On Wednesday, 14 leaders from diverse faith backgrounds were arrested after holding a sit-in at Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office in Oakland, demanding that O’Malley drop criminal charges against the Black Friday 14 who peacefully blocked BART trains last fall.
Faith leaders drew upon teachings of kindness and compassion that are fundamental to Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and many other traditions, according to a press release.
“It is not possible to ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ as both Jewish and Christian traditions mandate, and to allow our neighbors to be treated poorly in ways that we are not,” explained Nichola Torbett, Deacon at First Congregational Church of Oakland.
Instead of citing and releasing the 14 Black activists, O’Malley is pursuing criminal charges, even after BART decided it would not be pursuing charges against them.
The sit in, led by a broad group called the Interfaith Committee in Support of the Black Friday 14, is the latest in a string of actions, starting last week when labor leaders also occupied O’Malley’s office, demanding that charges against the Black Friday 14 be dropped.
“As the Buddha taught, when the mind is confronted with uncomfortable truths, it often runs for cover in rationalization, justification, and delusion. It is up to all of us to keep transforming the karma of slavery, by working for racial justice and insisting on true freedom for all beings,” said Katie Loncke, Co-Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
The Interfaith Committee includes representatives from the First Congregational Church of Oakland, Kehilla Community Synagogue, Shomeret Shalom, First Unitarian Church of Oakland, The Way Christian Center, Nafsi Ya Jamii, Plymouth United Church of Christ, Bay Area Christian Connection, Congregation Beth El, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Pacific School of Religion and Starr King School for the Ministry.