150 Protesters Create Havoc for BART Commuters

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Some 150 protesters stranded hundreds of commuters on Monday evening as BART partially closed stations at Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery and Embarcadero from 5:15 p.m. to somewhere near 8 p.m., according to our reporters on the ground.

As commuters left work and tried to get home, they found BART entrances blocked off, trains passing their station and a small group of protesters shouting slogans against BART police and officials. “No justice, no peace. Disarm the BART po-lice,” some chanted at Civic Center.

The group remained relatively small throughout the evening, but effectively created enough commotion to stop BART. At the end of the day, the main lesson from the protest seemed to be that it takes relatively few protesters to undo BART.

“Montgomery BART station now open while Powell and Civic Center remain exit only,” tweeted a Mission Loc@l reporter at 6:30 p.m.

Often, BART officials closed off the station entrances but allowed the trains to stop and passengers to exit. Officers prevented commuters from entering the stations, leaving them stranded — at times angry and at others consigned to their fate.

“Who wants to split a cab?” asked an angry commuter at the Embarcadero station at around 7:15 p.m.

When a tourist appeared befuddled by the protesters at Embarcadero, an officer asked, laughing, “Do you want to go shop or do you want to protest?”

At other stations, such as the one at 16th Street, trains moved through without stopping.

By 5:45 p.m., BART had closed down Civic Center station and moved the protesters out, and shouts of “16th Street, 16th Street, came from the group. But instead of moving toward the 16th Street BART station, the protesters marched east on Market Street, headed for the Ferry Building.

The protest was planned after one that was scheduled for last Thursday fell apart when BART cut off cellphone service to four downtown stations. The August 11 demonstration had been planned to protest the July 3 incident in which BART police shot and killed 45-year-old transient Charles Blair Hill on the Civic Center platform.

The suspension of cellphone service prompted outrage from protesters and civil liberties groups, and over the weekend a group called Anonymous hacked a BART website and published some customers’ information. The Anonymous website also built some support for Monday’s protest. Cellphone service appeared to be unaffected during Monday’s action.

During the protests, Mission Loc@l experimented with Storify, pulling tweets from our reporters and others as well as photos and articles. We also live-streamed from Civic Center for more than an hour using Qik. Later, we tried again at Embarcadero, but you can see from the brief video that the cellphone reception there was difficult.

7 Comments

  1. Jay

    If these folks really wanted to change things, they’d change their tactics. You know, things like not alienating the very people they’re supposedly trying to get support from by ruining their commute and posting their personal data online. But change has never really been their goal.

    First and foremost, this is a social event for them – a lifestyle choice. Second, this is cathartic – a means of dealing with the frustration of not being heard. They will, of course, tell you otherwise, but that’s just them lying to themselves.

    If they actually wanted to change things, they might petition City Hall, talk to their supervisor, make it part of the mayoral debate or even choose a realistic goal instead of completely disbanding the police. What a waste of time and energy.

    • TC

      I couldn’t agree with you more.

      I posted on here earlier but it seems like missionlocal has reserved the right to censor postings that they either don’t like goes against what they stand for. Now I know that all comments on here are carefully picked by the missionlocal staff and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the people that are regular visitors to their blog.

  2. rick fields

    We we would be so much better off without police. I can’t wait until we can all live in a state of anarchy where we kick it old school in bartertown and disputes get resolved in the thunderdome. Without fear of consequence you kids would eat each other alive. The pigs head in the jungle isnt really talking to you, you are just losing it. The marines will meet you at the beach.

  3. dmh

    I saw the protests through the webcam, and I have to say I think BART WAY overreacted by shutting down all the stations. There were maybe a couple of dozen protestors, and none of them were disrupting traffic. Calling out tons of riot police like they did was just pure mismanagement. If they just ignored the protests, there probably wouldn’t have been a story whatsoever. BART management played gave the media that showed up a big show, and now it’s a big political situation. For the money that BART spent trying to quell the speech of a few protestors and go on a big PR campaign, they could have provided training to the police on how to NOT gun people down and actually solved a problem. wtf bart.

  4. Rachel

    What’s with the biased headline Mission Local? It should read, “BART shuts down BART.” That’s the facts, it wasn’t the protestors. Ugh, BART does not get it, paramilitary police, shooting people, “pulling a Mubarak” by preventing free speech.

  5. Local SF Resident

    Anonymous released everyone’s MyBart name and password here: http://www.djmash.at/release/users.html

    Please change your password ASAP!

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