Monday, August 22, 2011

2011-08-22 "Protesters gather on BART's Civic Center platform in San Francisco" from "KFSN" television news

KGO-TV SAN FRANCISCO, CA contributed to this report.
SAN FRANCISCO (KFSN) -- BART officials prepared to react quickly during a planned protest for Monday's rush hour commute at the Civic Center station in San Francisco. This protest was organized by Internet hacking group called "Anonymous".
BART said they would allow protesters to demonstrate outside the fare gates, but not inside. When the protesters gathered on the platform, authorities closed the Civic Center station. BART ran trains through the station, but would not stop trains there.
Around 5:40 p.m. the group of protesters started to march toward BART's Powell Station. At that time, BART closed the Powell Station as well.
Muni said as of 5:27 p.m., the metro service would not stop at the Civic Center Station due to the BART protest. In addition, service on the Powell Street portion of the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde cable car lines were being provided by Muni bus shuttle.
Many commuters left work early so they would not get delayed by the protest.
Earlier, BART Board President Bob Franklin said, "I think we're prepared for Monday and we'll see what's in store."
Franklin also said BART's priority has always been the safety of its passengers. However, when BART shut down cellphone service at several San Francisco stations to thwart a protest last week, it opened up a can of worms.
In retaliation, Anonymous defaced BART's website and planned more protests including the one for Monday night.
"When BART cut off wireless communication at those three stations -- that was a dumb move. It just adds fuel to the fire," said Peter Sealey of the Sausalito Group.
Public relations consultant Peter Sealey said BART's CEO and police chief should have been conducting damage control, early on.
"The senior person at a company has to get in front of the story and take responsibility. BART hasn't done that," said Sealey.
BART says pulling the plug prevented protesters from communicating and kept train service running.

2011-08-22-1910 "BART officials arrest at least four, close two stations amid protests" from "Los Angeles Times" newspaper
Bay Area Rapid Transit officials have made at least four arrests and closed two subway stations as protesters gathered at the height of the evening commute for the second Monday in a row, according to the agency and local news accounts.
About 100 protesters who gathered at 5 p.m. this evening outside stations and on train platforms were from two organizations. One group is angered by fatal officer-involved shootings over the last two years, and the other by the agency's move earlier this month to thwart a demonstration by shutting off cellphone service.
According to local news accounts, BART officers arrested four people on the Civic Center Station train platform not long after Monday's protest began. Some witnesses reported shouting matches between angry commuters and protesters who have snarled the busy commute three times now since July 11. BART is used by hundreds of thousands of regional commuters to cross the Bay from San Francisco to points east.
By 5:30 p.m., BART reported closing San Francisco's Powell Street and Civic Center stations. Protesters began marching down Market Street, the city's main diagonal artery, toward the Ferry Building, blocking traffic in places.
Both subway stations were reopened shortly after 6 p.m., then closed again.
Officials with the San Francisco agency that operates municipal buses and cable cars also closed its Civic Center station, which shares an entry area with BART, and has replaced the storied Powell Street cable car popular with tourists with a shuttle bus.
Some who gathered in the stations were with a group known as No Justice No BART, which is protesting two fatal officer-involved shootings, most recently that of a transient named Charles Hill who was intoxicated and armed with a knife. Backers of Anonymous, the loose organization of hackers, had gathered outside the stations to demonstrate.

2011-08-22-1948 "Transit police arrest 4 in San Francisco protests" by PAUL ELIAS from "Associated Press"
SAN FRANCISCO -- Police have arrested at least eight protesters and closed two downtown San Francisco subway stations during the evening commute.
About 100 demonstrators on Monday were protesting the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency's decision to cut wireless service in its San Francisco stations earlier this month to quell another demonstration. BART's action touched off a worldwide debate over free speech and prompted retaliation by hackers.
BART police arrested four protesters shortly after 5:30 p.m. at the Civic Center station for protesting on the subway platform. BART police said other arrests were made as the protesters roamed up and down San Francisco's Market Street as night fell, prompting the opening and shutting of stations.
As of 7:30 p.m., the Civic Center and Powell stations were closed.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
Transit police arrested at least four protesters and briefly closed two subway stations during the evening commute Monday during a small demonstration over the Bay Area Rapid Transit's tactic of cutting wireless communication to quell a previously planned protest.
It was the second such protest in seven days at the same Civic Center station, where transit police shot and killed a transient July 3, which was the original target of demonstrators. Both protests were over the BART action.
The protest Aug. 15 was larger, noisier and prompted the closure of four downtown stations as more than 300 protesters marched through downtown San Francisco. That day, a phalanx of police officers and several helicopters protected businesses that shut early along the protest route on Market Street.
The latest protest drew about 100, but there was no police phalanx guarding the fast-food restaurants, payday loan store and other establishments that remained open above the station.
"I don't care about the cell phone stuff," said Tony Wallace, a homeless man standing in front of the payday loans store watching the protesters after BART police closed the station below and forced everybody on the streets. "I do care about them shooting people. They are out of control, for sure."
Despite the smaller turnout, transit police showed less tolerance and patience than the previous demonstration.
"This has been an ongoing process," BART Deputy Chief Daniel O. Hartwig said of the decision to make arrest protesters for the first time.
Hartwig said the four will be charged with trespassing on rail transit property. BART prohibits demonstrations on its platforms, citing safety concerns.
Carey Lamprecht, a volunteer with the National Lawyers Guild observing the protests, said those arrested will most likely be cited and released. She said the charges are minor infractions or misdemeanors most likely punished with a fine if found guilty.
The two closed stations were reopened after about an hour.
The social activist group Anonymous called for the protests Monday and last week in response to BART shutting wireless service at four of its stations Aug. 11.
The transit agency cut wireless service that day after learning organizers of a protest of the transient's shooting death were planning on issuing last-minute instructions through social networks and text messaging designed to disrupt the rush-hour commute.
The Aug. 11 protest failed to materialize after the BART tactic was implemented, and the commute went smoothly. But the transit agency drew worldwide criticism and is now at the center of a heated debate over free speech, social networks and public safety.
"I don't even own a cell phone, but what BART did was wrong," said David Kubrin, 72, of San Francisco. "We are seeing elements of a police state more and more everyday."
The nine-member BART board of directors has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday to discuss the policy. BART police kept the wireless service on during the last two protests.

2011-08-22-1953 "BART protest spills onto Market Street, briefly closes roadway in front of Civic Center station" by Denis Cuff, Kristin J. Bender and Robert Jordan from "Contra Costa Times" newspaper
SAN FRANCISCO -- The second BART protest in seven days to disrupt train service during the evening commuted spilled over from the Civic Center station into the street Monday with two dozen protesters forcing the brief closure of Market Street directly in front of the station.
San Francisco police and sheriff's officers arrested at least six protesters for failing to disperse from the middle of Market Street.
Protesters -- some wearing masks of a character in the "V for Vendetta" movie -- walked up and down Market Street in between the Powell Street and Civic Center stations, chanting "Whose street? Our street!" as police looked on. The protesters blocked Market Street for about 20 minutes, halting all traffic and forcing police to use motorcycles to help disperse the crowd.
Earlier, the protesters forced BART to close the Civic Center and Powell Street stations twice Monday in the span of two hours and arrested four people at a protest.
The protesters were arrested for interrupting railway transit shortly after 5 p.m., said Dan Hartwig, BART's deputy police chief.
"We are not going to tolerate disruptions on the train platforms," Hartwig said.
BART closed the Civic Center station shortly after -- at 5:30 p.m. -- followed quickly by the Powell Street station, where about 100 protesters, some chanting "No justice, no peace, disband BART police," headed after leaving Civic Center.
"BART police are definitely out of line," said Mario Fernandez, a student from Oakland who was protesting Monday.
"This was a peaceful assembly," he said. "We are not taking violent tactics. We are just expressing ourselves."
BART reopened both stations just after 6 p.m. before closing them again at 6:30 p.m.
Frustrated commuters were left to seek an alternate way to get to their destinations.
"How am I going to get home tonight?" said Lily Vu, a Fremont resident who works in San Francisco and tried to get on at the Powell Street station. "I rely on BART to get home and now I can't get into the station."
Vu left the station disappointed prior to it reopening 20 minutes later.
Brian Daof was trying to make his evening class at San Francisco City College at the Powell street station.
"I planned my day on BART's schedule and now I can't get in," Daof said. "This is a big inconvenience."
The protest was the third to target BART since a police officer shot to death a knife-wielding homeless man, Charles Hill, on July 3.
BART critics loosely allied with the group Anonymous called for the demonstration to protest the transit agency's decision Aug. 11 to shut down cell phone service at four underground stations in San Francisco to thwart a protest over Hill's shooting. That protest failed to materialize.
The BART board is scheduled to meet 9 a.m. Wednesday in Oakland to discuss developing a policy on whether and when cell phone service could be cut again in underground stations.
In the most recent protest Aug. 15, between 100 and 200 demonstrators marched between the four downtown San Francisco BART stations -- Civic Center, Montgomery, Powell and Embarcadero. In response, BART closed down the stations temporarily during the evening rush hour to keep protesters from reaching station platforms where officials said clashes and crowding would create a safety hazard near trains.
The shutdowns inconvenienced many BART riders, but transit system officials said the closures resulted in only a modest 3.3 percent drop in overall ridership on the transit system that day. Some 326,900 riders rode BART on Aug. 11, compared to 340,700 on an average Monday at this time of year, BART officials said.

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