News

BART protests fizzle after swift police action

Police kept protesters in San Francisco corralled to sidewalks and outside of BART station fare gates Monday night, preventing any major traffic disruptions or station closures.

Two protesters were arrested at the Embarcadero station after the men crossed a fare gate.

One of the protesters who was arrested spoke to the crowd with a megaphone before crossing into the paid area of the station, announcing that BART administration, and not protesters, were responsible for the previous weeks' station shut downs.

The protesters had gathered surrounding the fare gates, which BART has said is a free-speech zone. The demonstrator addressing the crowd used a ticket to pass through the gates, and told the crowd he was about to "test" that principle.

After briefly leading the crowd in a chant of, "No justice, no peace, disband the BART police," he left the paid area and returned to the crowd.

After several minutes, BART police moved into the crowd to arrest him and one other man. BART released a statement tonight saying the two were arrested for "interfering with BART operations."

BART closed no stations, and all trains ran on time.

The protest started outside the Civic Center station at around 5 p.m., heeding calls by organizers not to gather on the Civic Center station platform, where BART police made swift arrests last week.

Protesters gathered in the plaza were wearing bandanas and masks and were waving signs against police brutality like, "Stop Killing The Poor."

They attempted to march down Market Street, as they had last week, but San Francisco police blocked any attempt the crowd of about 50 made to move into the streets, keeping them on the sidewalk.

The crowd yelled, "pigs go home" at the officers keeping them confined to the sidewalk.

They marched east on the sidewalk on Market Street, and made stops at the Powell and Montgomery stations, protesting briefly inside the stations but outside of the fare gates. They did not attempt to enter the paid areas.

After the arrests at Embarcadero, there was a brief confrontation with BART police, who kept protesters from entering the station. They then left the station, and attempted to move onto Market Street, but were again blocked by San Francisco police.

Protesters then walked quietly back to Civic Center Plaza, where a few entered the Civic Center station, but they did not make any attempts to disrupt service.

For the third consecutive Monday, BART officials had warned commuters that stations may be closed due to this planned protest by the hacker group "Anonymous."

The group had instructed protesters tonight to hand out fliers stating their demands instead of entering the stations.

Anonymous began its protests after BART shut down cellphone service at several stations during a separate protest over the shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill.

Protesters tonight were chanting, "Charles didn't have to die. We all know the reasons why, the whole system is guilty."

Hill was fatally shot July 3 by BART police after he allegedly threatened officers with a knife and a broken bottle, police said.

Corby Sturges, who commutes to San Francisco from the East Bay, called the protests "misguided."

"Interfering with the commute is not making much of a difference at BART headquarters," Sturges said.

And Kate Svinarich, who commutes to San Francisco from Oakland, called the protests "more irritating than convincing."

Someone set up a Facebook page titled "Commuters Take Back BART." The page said there would be a counter-protest tonight.

"BART commuters are sick and tired of 'protests' interfering with our right to use public transit, so we can earn a living and get back to our families," the site states.

Despite a few brief confrontations with bystanders, there were no signs of counter protests.

BART shut down cellphone service in the stations during a protest Aug. 15 and has closed multiple downtown stations in response to each protest.

Last Monday's protest resulted in the closure of the Civic Center and Powell Street stations and the arrest of about 40 people by San Francisco police.

BART spokesman Jim Allison said, "We support peaceful protests so long as they're outside the fare gates."

Comments

Posted by Julia, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 31, 2011 at 11:56 am

Very good work BART Police...keep the protestor's in line.

Thank you for listening, Julia Pardini, from Alamo

PS...I hope my comments meet with the Danville Express's protocol. Lately my comments have been bounced. Some times the truth need to be said...but you go ahead and continue to remove comments...I have no problem with that. The losers are the folks that are denied the truth.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Moneyball, the Sequel: Billy Beane for President!
By Tom Cushing | 6 comments | 966 views

Spedowfski Announces run for Livermore City Council
By Roz Rogoff | 1 comment | 861 views

Planning the "Pleasanton way"
By Tim Hunt | 8 comments | 811 views

Take Full Advantage of Free Standardized Testing Opportunities
By Elizabeth LaScala | 0 comments | 319 views