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Monday, August 22, 2011

BART Closes Stations; Five Arrested

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 6:31 PM

click to enlarge Commuter crush - MICHAEL SHORT
  • Michael Short
  • Commuter crush

Update (6:30 p.m.) BART says all station are open and trains are running on time. Well, that was quick. Go home!

Update: (6:06 p.m.): BART officials have reopened Powell Street station. Civic Center remains closed.

As expected, commuters were shut out of the BART stations as of 5:30 p.m. when the transit agency halted trains as protesters gathered to disrupt the evening commute.

Police were staged along the Civic Center platform well before the 5 p.m. protest was scheduled to begin. By 5:15, it appeared to be a weak demonstration, with more reporters and camera crews than actual protesters. The chants were also sparse, in part because police told protesters they would arrest them if they chanted.

But things picked up by 5:25 p.m., when commuters were not allowed to get onto the BART trains, because protesters were threatening to block the train doors; the trains just passed through the station without stopping. Police in riot gear tried to shoo people out of the station, threatening arrests.

The station was cleared out by 5:45 p.m., and while some protesters said they were headed to Powell Street station, SF Weekly reporter Dean Schaffer, who has been on the scene of the protest, says it appeared the momentum was fading and nobody but commuters were headed to the next station. 

By the time Schaffer left Civic Center, five protesters had been arrested and the Powell Street station had also been closed down.

"The police are rampant and out of control," says Ktey, a protester who wouldn't give us her last name. "It's time for them to end their free reign."

The protest was organized in response to the July 3 shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill, a transient who was fatally killed by two BART police officers. Last week's protest created a commuter nightmare for San Francisco, as BART was forced to halt trains at three stations.

While the agency warned of more protests to come today -- and possible station closures -- some commuters still opted to take BART to work today. "I'm here for the street performance," says commuter Jason Harrison. "It's a substitution for high-priced television."

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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