Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BART cuts cell phone service, then has to shut down stations due to protests

This week, Operation Empire State Rebellion has set its sites on San Francisco.
On Sunday, Anonymous hacked into the MyBART website and published the contact info of its customers. The group called for a protest at the SF Civic Center BART station, where BART police officers murdered a "wobbly drunk" homeless man after he threw a knife on July 3.
Two BART officers approached 45 year-old Charles Hill on the Civic Center platform and shot him dead within 23 seconds of their arrival. They did not claim to mistake their guns for tasers...because only an idiot would do that.
At least one witness has publicly stated that Hill was neither running away nor lunging at the officers. BART station video of the shooting shows an object (allegedly a knife) sliding along the ground past an officer's feet (after it was thrown against a train) as he fires his weapon. Several people are seen slowly walking away from the scene, clearly not fearing for their lives. However, they begin to hurry away once the police start shooting.

Allegedly, Hill had first thrown a bottle at the officers, although there is no video evidence. This naturally begs the question....if a "wobbly drunk" throws a bottle and then a knife at officers, is he still a threat? He had no weapons on him when he was shot, so how can the police claim "self-defense?" Why did they opt for guns instead of tasers?
Having any object tossed at you is certainly cause for alarm, but IMHO, it doesn't justify murder/manslaughter/death-related-to-an-officer-involved-shooting.
BART seems to think it does though, as neither officer has been disciplined. One of them has actually been hired by the FBI, who is obviously impressed with his police work (murdering a drunken homeless man within 23 seconds of encountering him).

Two weeks later, and just a few days after the SFPD murder of Kenneth Harding over transit fare evasion, a protest shutdown 3 BART stations in downtown San Francisco. Protestors held open the doors of a train, and one man attempted to climb on top of a train.
On August 11, another protest was called for at the Civic Center station. BART officials got wind of it, and shut off cell phone service in all of the downtown SF BART stations.
This was the same week that the UK government talked openly of cutting off internet service amidst nationwide rioting in response to the police murder of Mark Duggan.
The tactic by BART succeeded in thwarting the protest for that day, but it opened up a whole new can of worms for the transit agency.
Anonymous got involved, hacked the MyBART website, and called for a 3rd protest on Monday, August 15. That protest only temporarily closed down several stations, but passengers were frustrated by the lack of communication from BART about where and when service would be restored.
For the better part of two hours, passengers were allowed to disembark trains and stations, but were not allowed to enter them, forcing commuters to seek other ways home. Some sat on the steps down to the BART stations, simply waiting out the chaos. Others walked from station to station, chasing rumors — many originating from BART officials themselves — that they had reopened.
-SF Examiner

Cell phone service was not interrupted this time.

Here's a great video of BART mouthpiece Linton Johnson defending HIS decision to cut off cell phone service on August 11...even though he initially denied that BART had done it, and then blamed subordinates for the decision once it became clear that BART was responsible.

You can't really get more spineless than that.

Both the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced today that they have backed off from threatened legal action against BART over the denial of service.