Powell station shut down by BART protest

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A Sept. 8 protest called to test the limits of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agency's policies on freedom of speech inside BART stations ended in a cluster of protesters and journalists being coralled by nightstick-wielding BART officers, detained, and in some cases, arrested. The station was shut down at around 6 p.m. when police surrounded a group of demonstrators who had marched around the unpaid area of the transit station, as well as a group of media who were following them with cameras and voice recorders.

It was unclear at press time just how many arrests were made, but it is clear that things did not go as planned from the perspective of either the protesters or the transit agency. As the demonstration got underway, one of the No Justice No BART protest organizers, Christopher Cantor, told reporters, "We are here to test free speech limitations at BART, but more importantly, we're here to say we don't trust BART, we don't trust BART to protect us, we don't trust BART to interpret the constitution." He also said that none of them were there to get arrested.

Before the banners and bullhorns came out, BART spokesperson Jim Allison told the Guardian that if BART police deemed a gathering inside the unpaid area of the station to be dangerous, "we would ask people to disperse." If they didn't disperse, "we would declare an unlawful assembly." Allison said protesters were free to exercise their first amendment rights to protest inside the areas of the station that don't require a ticket to enter. He said people could do that as long as they were not "interrupting or interfering" with regular service. When the Guardian caught up with Allison after the protest by phone to find out why his statements about the dispersal order were contradicted by police activity, he refused to answer our questions, directing us instead to watch a press conference on the BART website.

"I'm going off duty," he said after calling the Guardian in response to a page, after being asked several times why BART police had not issued a dispersal order before surrounding people and arresting them. "I simply cannot devote the rest of my night to answering your questions."

Here's what Cantor said just before the march around the station got underway:

Before police closed in, the protest featured some 60 protesters chanting things like, "How can they protect and serve us? The BART police just make me nervous." One banner, from a group called Feminists Against Cops, read, "Disarm BART, Arm Feminists."

Things heated up when the protest got closer to the fare gates, at which point police may have determined that protesters were interfering with service. At one point, police tackled a masked demonstrator to the ground. However, when people were detained, they were not standing directly in front of the fare gates.

Police did not make any public statements indicating that the situation had been deemed unlawful before surrounding the group of detainees, nor did they issue a dispersal order. We were told that we were not free to leave.

While I was detained along with Luke Thomas, a reporter from the popular political Fog City Journal, and freelance reporter Josh Wolf, an officer told us that we were being detained on suspected violation of California Penal Code 369-i, which prohibits interfering with the operations of a railroad.

Thomas phoned Matt Gonzalez, former president of the Board of Supervisors and now a chief attorney with the Public Defender's office, to ask about that law. Gonzalez looked it up and told him that there was an exception to that law which "does not prohibit picketing in the adjacent area of any property" belonging to a railroad. So it would seem that the protesters, along with more than a dozen journalists, were being unlawfully detained. When we put this question to one of the officers who stood holding a nightstick and blocking us in, he refused to address the issue directly, repeating that we weren't free to leave.

Members of the press with San Francisco Police Department issued credentials were made to line up and present their press passes to San Francisco police officers, who had been called in to assist. The police officers took away media's press passes, saying it was SFPD property and could be retrieved later -- which meant that if journalists had opted to stay and cover any further police activity, we would have had no way of presenting credentials to avoid arrest. We were issued Certificates of Release and ushered outside of the station, where it was impossible to see what was happening, and therefore, impossible to do our jobs as reporters.

Just outside, San Francisco State lecturer Justin Beck was very concerned that several of his journalism students, whom he'd sent on assignment to cover the protest, were being detained. They did not have SFPD issued press passes and at that time were not being allowed to exit the station.

 

 

 

Comments

Is also known for her advocacy of "summer of mercy" positions, she has now begun advocating for other middle class rioters back form burning man. Bitter middle class whites left or right have never had a better apologist.

Posted by meatlock on Sep. 08, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

Great videos of Christopher Cantor wearing shades and shouting through a rolled-up newspaper, accompanied by a throng in front of the BART ticket gates.

One question, though:

Is he a mole for BART?

Because I can't imagine any image on the evening news that would do more to alienate commuters and average voters than this one.

Okay, maybe if he took a dump on the floor.

Keep it up, Chris!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 08, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

Please draw readers' attention to my post above. It's important.

Thanks.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 08, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

Now you are playing a very dangerous game Evans. Your comment above, which you went out of your way to call my attention to, looks all too familiar.

Readers should know, that beginning in the 1960's and all the way up to the present day, a key tactic that the FBI and CoIntelPro has used against grassroots organizers, is that of falsely accusing them in public of being infiltrators, moles, and/or agent provocateurs.

The tactic is used to get organizers to be suspicious of each other, in an attempt to cause infighting between organizers.

This tactic was used especially intensively against the Black Panthers, unfortunately to powerful effect.

Now, Arthur Evans, appears to be attempting to use exactly the same tactic against the BART protesters.

In light of the activism that Evans engaged in, decades ago, combined with the fact that periodically he so strongly alienated others in the movement in those times, and combined with his strange morphing now into his freakish reactionary persona here in San Francisco and on these blogs; we should strongly question just what is up, with his suddenly playing the 'mole' card, and strangely trying so hard to call attention to this.

Perhaps some of the people in the movement, who you have screwed over in the past, should reexamine you in the present Mr Evans.

Posted by vigilante on Sep. 08, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

Warns Vigilante:

“a very dangerous game”

“the FBI and CoIntelPro”

“his freakish reactionary persona”

Wow. You really should switch to Decaf.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 08, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

Go back to your hole, don't you know that you need to be in your hole?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

That was meant for vigilante, though I doubt he/she cares one bit about what "us" regular folks who use BART think or want. Go hug a tree, save a species, volunteer at a soup shelter, anything but disrupt "us" working class from getting home to our wives, children, loved one's. Go find a cause and leave us alone. Maybe if you didn't use tactics that alienate everyone besides you we would have sympathy for your cause! Unfortunately you don't have the social awareness and foresight to realize that you have no clue as to what an ordinary person thinks or wants. "Go back to your hole, don't you know that you need to be in your hole?"

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

Does it mean nothing to you that the BART police have violently killed innocent people? Does it mean nothing that they would so easily attack and undermine civil liberties to get their way.

Such behavior is exactly how the Third Reich started in Germany.

These protesters are fighting for the very future of your democracy.

And thankfully, they are doing a damned good job of it.

Posted by vigilante on Sep. 12, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

You do know that cop went to jail for killing Oscar Grant?

You do know that none of the shootings by BART police have been political and planned(conspiracy ravings aside)? While NUTZI violence was orchestrated and planned by the party at various levels.

Your screams of Nazi whatnot is offensive and childish, it shows a real serious lack of knowledge of how they came to power and how they used political violence.

You're just screaming to brow beat and daring anyone not to agree with your terms. This advice isn't meant to be abusive to you, but outside of like minded true believers at the coffee shop or wherever, that isn't an argument.

All your ravings about trolls crack me up.

Posted by meatlock on Sep. 13, 2011 @ 12:53 am

And Vigilante as well. It reads like a not-so-vaguely worded death threat and in light of what has happened to Arthur it deserves to be investigated.

In all of the back-and-forth that goes on here Arthur stood his ground. But he never threatened anyone - and this post is a threat.

I'm making a call tomorrow.

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Sep. 12, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

Marke & Guardian editors. This is serious business. A poster has just publicly accused me of making a death threat. Please delete her post and email her directly letting her know that some things are beyond acceptable.

In fact ms 'Snapples' making such a serious online accusation against another person is a very serious matter and can in fact get you yourself in trouble with the law. You might want to consider that as you contact the FBI.

Furthermore it is incredibly tacky and just plain extremely psychologically messed up, to be on such an ego trip that you actually use the occasion of someone's death as leverage to abuse another person online.

You have *really* stepped over the line 'sister'.

Posted by vigilante on Sep. 12, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

Ps: If this doesn't show all of you at the Guardian that you need to require people to strictly register and log on in order to post to these blogs I don't know what will.

One of these nutballs has finally gone too far.

Last week it was one of them slinging *really* fucked up accusations about complicity with the Bhopal massacre at people. and now this.

Enough, really is, enough.

Posted by vigilante on Sep. 13, 2011 @ 12:01 am

This is the problem, or the joy of posting on the Internet. You're accountable for what you write, even under a moniker like "Vigilante."

You said this to Arthur Evans last week:

"Perhaps some of the people in the movement, who you have screwed over in the past, should reexamine you in the present Mr Evans."

Innocent? Perhaps. But it's also threatening and in-line with the recent increase in the tempo and nature of your posts.

And now I'm in your sights. Well, everything here is being documented and if you really have nothing to fear then you shouldn't mind answering a few questions from the power-that-be exactly what you meant by your statement to Arthur. Now should you?

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Sep. 13, 2011 @ 9:42 am

If Arthur was a paid agent for whomever "they" are, they would be expecting something in return.

Agitating a handful true believers on the Guardian web page wouldn't rate 20 bucks a year.

These posts lately are really kind of sad in how out of touch they are.

H. Brown gives time limit ultimatums around him leaving if something he gets to do for free doesn't change to his liking.

Jorge and eric's rambling out about the stupid masses in relation to 9/11 conspiracies, and what we should all be outraged about.

Eric confusing a private web page's policies with the 1st amendment, which is a limit on government.

And Vigilantes odd mono-logs on the conspiracy(tm) and it's concerns about our local radical sect of talkers.

These views seem typical of many of our true believers.

Posted by meatlock on Sep. 13, 2011 @ 12:42 am

bump (ignore this, just bumping a troll post down the queue)

Posted by vigilante on Sep. 08, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

PO-lice love these protests.

An opportunity to collect more overtime pay on top of their good salaries and pension plans.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 6:45 am

was to "disrupt the operations of a railroad", how can the protestors argue that they have a valid defense to 369-i?

If their intent is really not to disrupt the railroad, then the solution is simple. Don't disrupt it. Peacefully picket outside on the street by the station entrances, while being careful not to obstruct commuters entering or leaving the station.

That would have the added advantages of them not being hated by everyone, and not appearing to be self-centered, self-absorbed, self-involved, petty, spiteful, vindictive losers.

Posted by Bob on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 8:08 am

It's the voters applauding the police for getting the upper hand over the BART disrupters.

Next step: D.A. George Gascon will announce a vigorous prosecution of those arrested. He will be elected overwhelmingly in November by a grateful electorate.

Step after that: Progressive candidates for mayor, D.A., and sheriff will defend the disrupters. They will be crushed in November.

Thank you, BART dirsupters, for your input in changing the election dynamic this year. You guys are the best!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 9:16 am

I'll never clap for these domestic terrorist thug pigs.
And I vote. Keep clapping, you nazi sympathizer.

Posted by Guest brian m on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 10:50 am

The SA, according to the trustifarians has their own little krystalnacht at the Glen Park station as of late.

Posted by meatlock on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 11:27 am

This couldn't be more spot-on. If you want to convince the people to act? Why do you piss them off by inconveniencing them? All those people know BART is messe d up. They take it every day! If you want to affect change and influence people, why don't you form a human chain around the building when the BART board meets or something?

Oh, wait, it's because you really just want lots of attention for yourself so you can feel good about contributing nothing to society? Well then carry on...

Posted by Juan Eduardo on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

After I posted this piece last night, I learned that BART deputy police chief Daniel Hartwig told reporters at a press conference held after I'd left the scene that people were warned that they would be arrested if they didn't leave. Here's a link to the BART press conference, which I did not attend because I didn't know it had been called:

For the record, I did not hear a dispersal order. Some other journalists who were corralled in there with me were also confused as to why we were being detained, and said they hadn't heard a dispersal order, either. I just spoke with Troy Dangerfield of SFPD media relations, who noted that members of the media he's been contacting today to get their press passes back to them were telling him they hadn't heard a dispersal order, either.

When I spoke with BART spokesperson Jim Allison by phone several hours after being detained and released, I asked him why BART police had not issued a dispersal order. In response, he refused to answer my question. He told me I should watch a video of the press conference, which at that point had not posted yet. He did not tell me that they had issued a dispersal order.

Yet BART deputy police chief Hartwig claimed at the press conference that they did so several times. It's entirely possible that they issued announcements that were inaudible. My theory is that they didn't want people to disperse, because they knew the protesters would only move onto the next station. By penning everyone in, they were able to fully control the situation.

Posted by rebecca on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 11:37 am

Bruce,

You get a good story like this and like every other single story that engenders an online discussion it is dominated by Arthur Evans and his troll friends. How much increased ad revenue do you get off their hits? Is it worth destroying your credibility?

Adachi for Mayor!

Go Giants!

h.

Posted by h. brown on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 11:50 am

Bruce,

You get a good story like this and like every other single story that engenders an online discussion it is dominated by Arthur Evans and his troll friends. How much increased ad revenue do you get off their hits? Is it worth destroying your credibility?

Adachi for Mayor!

Go Giants!

h.

Posted by h. brown on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 11:54 am

It's so annoying to have to see all the opinions that differ from those of h brown. Wouldn't life be a lot simpler if we all thought like him?

Then again, maybe simple-mindedness isn't the highest intellectual virtue.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

"these domestic terrorist thug pigs."

- Brian M

True, the disrupters were a threat to station safety, but I wouldn't go this far in describing them. Then again, who knows what they'll do the next time, right?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

up the Glen Park BART station after? Probably well over $15K in damages, not to mention additional delays for this morning's commuters.

You guys are the last spot in town giving *any* legitimacy to these protests. I realize it fits this paper's predetermined narrative, and I'm ok with that for a while. But at some point, you guys have to make a more honest assessment about what's really taking place here. This is no longer protesting for a purpose - it's a counterproductive disaster, and the people taking the brunt of it are regular citizens.

People like myself, who were once on the side of these demonstrators, have been completely turned off. Be honest.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

Is Matt Gonzalez being paid by the city while he is giving legal advice to these trustifarians?

Posted by meatlock on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

Bruce,

It seems that Marc Salomon and Eric Brooks have stopped posting here. I know why Marc doesn't post. It's because he's always looking for work and when potential employers do a Google search on him the results come up nasty things that Arthur Evans has said on your site. Don't know about Eric. I do know that though I often disagree with both of them that I always learn something from them.

How the hell can I get this through to you if it's possible?

You need to stop posting this herd of idiots. Otherwise you're just 'the Wall' at another e-mail address.

I took a week off when you said you'd remedy the situation.

You did nothing.

After promising you would.

I come back after a week and it's worse than before.

I'm gonna give you 2 weeks time-out this time to see if you're able or willing to dump Evans and the rest of these snarky useless snots.

Hey, we're getting into the homestretch of the campaign. Do you really want to be boycotted by the the smartest lefty political minds in town because you're busy protecting Arthur Evans' constitutional right to destroy your paper?

Giants still got a chance.

I don't know about you.

Weekly was 75 pages long this week.

You were at 50.

h.

Posted by h. brown on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

"I'm gonna give you 2 weeks time-out this time to see if you're able or willing to dump Evans and the rest of these snarky useless snots."

- h brown

Let's black-list everybody who disagrees with h brown, and call it progressive politics!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 09, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

If the cast and crew of The Guardian have any say in the matter, progressive candidates this November will be taking a public stand in support of the BART vandals.

That will be like coming out in support of the flat-earth view of the solar system. They will totally creamed at the polls.

With each passing election, The Guardian becomes more self-isolating and toxic to progressive candidates.

What's the problem here?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 10, 2011 @ 9:05 am
Posted by Billy Amberg on Sep. 10, 2011 @ 10:07 am

Most appropriate response to Ruthie's incessant, boring, repetitive ramblings.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MAqG6BObmc

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Sep. 11, 2011 @ 11:46 am