Wednesday, August 24, 2011
2011-08-22 Anonymous - "OpBART"
2011-08-23 "BART Hates Free Speech, Anonymous #OpBART Protest, Civic Center station, 8/22/11: video" by dave id from "Indymedia" newswire
In justification of BART's shutdown of mobile phone service on August 11th, the agency began to disingenuously claim that demonstrations against BART's police brutality were a threat to passenger safety, even though no one has ever been hurt during a BART protest. On August 22nd, at the second demonstration called by Anonymous, BART took this safety rationale to new heights, not only claiming that holding a banner was safety concern but additionally that even raising one's voice was an arrestable threat to safety. Apparently, any criticism of the agency within the BART system is now a safety issue, or at least BART believes that legal rationale relieves them of all obligations toward respecting Constitutionally-protected free speech.
In the video below, BART officer J. Conneely from the BART police department's "Tactical Team" steps up to three demonstrators holding a blue banner, starts to grab it, and tells them that they are subject to arrest for displaying the banner. "You are free to express yourself upstairs. It's a safety issue. You are not allowed to do that down here," he says. Conneely refuses to explain how the banner is a safety issue.
Within another couple of minutes, Conneely tells a demonstrator who is discussing the BART police killing of Charles Hill on July 3rd that she has to "keep [her] voice down… for safety reasons," and that by speaking loudly she is subject to arrest. Picking up on this strange BART police declaration, another protester announces that "if we raise our voices, we will be arrested." That demonstrator then leads a chant of "No justice, no peace, disband the BART police," and is promptly surrounded by BART riot police who proceed to physically remove him from the station for arrest. (Reports are that those arrested within Civic Center station have been charged with trespassing. Go figure.)
It is clear that BART's policy against "expression" within stations is not content-neutral. Four people were arrested in the Civic Center station on August 22nd for speaking out against the BART police, but a passenger who was yelling at protesters was not arrested nor even confronted by BART police, allowed to rant at length. And somehow a political banner has been determined by the agency to be a safety issue, yet BART stations are filled with commercial advertisements, across the walls and sometimes even on station floors and stairs.
BART refuses to hold its police accountable when they beat or kill passengers, and now the agency appears to be at wits end on how to deal with Bay Area community members that won't shut up about it. Being a public transportation system, BART simply cannot stop in-station protests, short of declaring itself an independent country and implementing martial law. And so the agency is grasping at straws, setting new Constitutionally-dubious precedents in its attempts to stifle free speech, from pulling the plug on mobile phone antennas to declaring that raising one's voice on a platform (if the speech is critical of BART) is an arrestable offense. The problem with BART's new approach is that as it futilely tries to ward off public criticism of its violent and unaccountable police force, and the managers and executives that look the other way or help to cover it up, BART has brought upon itself a wave of new critics, from civil libertarians to Anonymous, people who have never protested BART before yet are more than willing to join in the fight for civil rights in the battle against BART.
2011-08-22 "Video of the first arrest inside the Civic Center BART station in San Francisco" by dave id from "Indybay.org" newswire
2011-08-22 "BART arrests protesters for speaking out" by Shawn Gaynor from "San Francisco Bay Guardian" newspaper
Faced with yet another protest over BART's disruption of cell phone service on August 11 to preemptively disrupt a protest, and with lingering anger over the BART police shooting of Charles Hill on the Civic Center station platform on July 3, BART police stifled vocalizations of dissent with immediate arrests during an Aug. 22 protest on the Civic Center Station platform.
“Free speech is the best kind of speech,” said one protester on the Civic Center BART platform as the second protest called by the international hacker group Anonymous in as many weeks challenged the BART system at rush hour.
As a few protesters began to gather, surrounded by dozens of riot police and media, a uniformed BART police officer told a young African American man he would be arrested if he raised his voice. Chanting began in response among the small pack of protesters, and the man was promptly arrested by BART police.
As he was being led off the platform by police, a woman who stood in the center of the platform began verbally engaging a BART officer, saying, “BART police need to be reformed. Make BART Safe. Make BART safe.” She was apparently arrested for nothing more then her words. Deputy BART Police Chief Daniel Hartwig said he could not provide any information about what the arrestees would be charged with.
Shortly after, BART police declared the small gathering an illegal assembly. Riot police surrounded some 40 protesters for arrest as media was ejected from the station.
Civic Center station and Powell Station were both shuttered, blocking many transit passengers from their evening commute.
What started as a cell phone disruption has apparently escalated into BART arresting anyone expressing an unfavorable opinion of BART.
When asked if the arrested represented a new BART police policy for protests, Hartwig told the Guardian BART's policy remains the same. “This environment has to remain safe, and if that safety is jeopardized in any way, we will make arrests," he said. "We have a responsibility to maintain a safe station.”
Protesters said it was appropriate to protest on the Civic Center platform because it is the location of the July 11 shooting of Hill by BART police.
Earlier in the day, the National Lawyer's Guild issued a statement calling on BART to respect passengers' and community members' civil liberties during the Aug. 22 demonstration.
"First and foremost, the BART Police should provide transparency regarding the killing of Charles Hill and should stop shooting people, especially unarmed and incapacitated individuals," the NLG statement read. "Second, BART should apologize for its disruption of cell service on August 11th and not repeat this unconstitutional action. Finally, BART should recognize passengers’ right to freedom of speech on platforms and in trains."
Calls to the BART for the names of the arrestees and number of arrests had not yet been returned by press time.
2011-08-22 video by Shawn Gaynor
An unidentified man joins an organized protest by the group known as "Anonymous," after it shut down Bay Area Rapid Transit Civic Center Station, in protest of what they perceived was a violation of their First Amendment Right three weeks ago by Bart Police, In San Francisco Monday August 22, 2011. (Maria J. Avila Lopez) ( Maria J. Avila Lopez )
An unidentified man is arrested by Bay Area Rapid Transit Police, during a protest organized by the group known as "Anonymous," at Civic Center Station in San Francisco Monday August 22, 2011. The group say perceived that Bart Police violated their First Amendment Right three weeks during another protest. (Maria J. Avila Lopez) ( Maria J. Avila Lopez )
2011-08-23 "At least 40 arrested during BART protest, 3rd protest called for Monday" by "Bay City News"
San Francisco police said about 40 people were arrested during Monday evening’s BART protest, which shut down two downtown San Francisco BART stations at several points throughout the roving demonstration.
Protesters gathered on the Civic Center BART platform at 5 p.m. The protesters chose the platform to gather because Charles Hill was killed there by a BART police officer on July 3, after Hill allegedly attacked the officer with a knife. The shooting set off a string of protests that have shut down San Francisco BART stations three times since then.
San Francisco police Officer Albie Esparza said dispersal orders were given several times throughout the protest which started at the Civic Center and made its way east on Market Street and back toward the Civic Center throughout the evening.
Two people were arrested shortly after the protest began after disobeying dispersal orders, Esparza said.
At Fourth and Market streets one person was arrested on suspicion of igniting a flammable substance and when demonstrators marched to the first block of Grove Street, at least 35 others were arrested, Esparza said.
All protesters were arrested on suspicion of failing to disperse upon command of a traffic officer and pedestrian in the roadway, Esparza said.
Police also recovered a hammer from the demonstration.
Police said their goal is to accommodate demonstrators and allow them their constitutional right to protest while protecting lives.
Previous BART shut downs stemmed from the July officer-involved shooting. On Aug. 11, BART said it had intelligence that a disruptive protest was being planned and shut down cellphone service in several stations to prevent protesters from communicating in stations and tunnels.
That protest failed to materialize, leading BART spokesman Linton Johnson to declare the precaution was successful in disrupting the protest.
But blocking cellphone service angered the hacker protest group “Anonymous,” who has been behind many of the protests. The group called on their loose collective of members to hack BART websites, flood BART offices with emails, faxes and phone calls, and had called for another protest on Aug. 15.
Anonymous has established the hashtag #opBART on Twitter, on which the group called for a third protest Monday, Aug. 29 at the same time and location as Monday’s protest, which affected commuters, BART and Muni riders for the second week in a row.
Posted by Northbay Uprising Radio at 4:20 PM