BART police arrested two protesters at the Embarcadero station in San Francisco tonight after the men crossed a fare gate. Protesters had gathered at the Embarcadero station after walking from the Civic Center station. They also made stops at the Powell and Montgomery stations during their march. They were waving signs, chanting and asking for the disbandment of BART’s Police Department, but they were following organizers’ requests to stay off of train platforms until just before 7 p.m. After the arrests, protesters headed back in the direction of the Civic Center station. For the third consecutive Monday, BART officials had warned commuters that stations may be closed due to this planned protest by the hacker group “Anonymous.” The group had instructed protesters tonight to hand out fliers stating their demands instead of entering the stations. No stations had been closed as of about 7 p.m.
Protesters wearing bandanas and masks were waving signs reading, “Stop Killing The Poor.” After they tried to march into the street and were stopped by police, they chanted, “Pigs Go Home.” The group began its protests after BART shut down cellphone service at several stations during a separate protest over the shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill. Protesters tonight were chanting, “Charles didn’t have to die. We all know the reasons why, he whole system is guilty.” Hill was fatally shot July 3 by BART police after he allegedly threatened officers with a knife and a broken bottle, police said. Dr. Rupa Marya, a former doctor of Hill’s, was expected to be in attendance at today’s protest aiming not to disrupt commuters “but to educate a population that may need to pause and think about the value a human life has,” she said in a post on her Facebook page.
Corby Sturges, who commutes to San Francisco from the East Bay, planned to leave work early to make sure he could get out of the city before the 5 p.m. demonstration began. He called the protests “misguided”. Interfering with the commute is not making much of a difference at BART headquarters,” Sturges said. “The more effective protest would be focused at BART headquarters (rather) than commuters.” Kate Svinarich, who commutes to San Francisco from Oakland, called the protests “more irritating than convincing.” Someone set up a Facebook page titled “Commuters Take Back BART.” The page said there would be a counter-protest against the Anonymous event tonight.
“BART commuters are sick and tired of ‘protests’ interfering with our right to use public transit, so we can earn a living and get back to our families,” the site states. “Let’s take back BART from these misguided protesters and show them they are way outnumbered and will not shut down BART again,” it reads. There have been no signs of counter protests. BART shut down cellphone service in the stations during a protest Aug. 15 and has closed multiple downtown stations in response to each protest. Last Monday’s protest resulted in the closure of the Civic Center and Powell Street stations and the arrest of about 40 people by San Francisco police. BART spokesman Jim Allison said, “We support peaceful protests so long as they’re outside the fare gates.”
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