GoldenGateXpress: Bay area’s BART system under attack by protesters

Earlier this month San Francisco’s rapid area transit system cut off cell phone service temporarily to prevent underground communication of rallying groups, to the dismay of those groups in addition to the American Civil Liberties Union. The protest Monday resulted in 45 arrests.

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  • Recent police brutality has sparked ongoing protests against San Francisco’s public transportation system
  • Monday, protesters shut down several stations; 45 people were arrested

Protesters took to the streets Monday night in response to what they believed to be systematic problems with San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, including police brutality and alleged free speech violations. On August 11 the transit system briefly shut down subterranean cell phone service to help prevent BART protesters from coordinating plans to stop trains.

“It’s not just a few bad apples, it’s the whole f***ing barrel,” said James Foley, an Oakland resident who attended the protest.

Two protesters are knocked down by San Francisco police officers at Market street in San Francisco during a demonstration and march against BART on Aug. 22, 2011. Photo by Erik Verduzco.

Controversy remains regarding the shooting of Charles Hill by BART police on July 3. BART police reported that Hill lunged at officers, while some witnesses assert that Hill was unarmed.

Monday’s protest began on the Civic Center station platform. At approximately 5:27 p.m., police shut down the station, ordering protesters to leave or risk arrest. The protest then caused the closure of Powell and part of Montgomery stations.

At 6:15 p.m. marchers rallied from Embarcadero station back to Montgomery. The group started as 50 and swelled to about 150 as it continued back to the Civic Center station.

Not all who were in range of the protest were in support, however, as angry commuters shouted at protesters and got into verbal altercations with them.

“Police are here to protect people like us. They have jobs and families, too, just like us,” said Yvette Delozada, a 45-year-old resident of Daly City. “It’s unfortunate what happened to Oscar Grant and everything, but sometimes s*** happens and there’s nothing you can do. I’d feel safer near a cop with a gun than a cop without one.”

A protester is tackled by San Francisco police officers after attempting to start a fire in the middle of the street during a demonstration against BART on Market street in San Francisco, Calif. on Aug. 22, 2011. Photo by Erik Verduzco.

After protestors returned to Civic Center, they swarmed the street and blocked traffic, urging onlookers to join if they cared about people being murdered by police. The sheriff’s office arrived at the scene at 7:08 p.m. Protesters were allowed to continue demonstrating as long as they stayed on the sidewalk.

Police made 45 arrests and all stations reopened at 8:37 p.m.

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