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SF Protest Over BART Police Shooting Disrupts Service

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Members of the group “No Justice, No BART” crowded onto a BART train at Civic Center station on July 11, 2011. The group was protesting July 3, 2011 shooting death of Charles Hill by BART Police officers. (CBS)

Members of the group “No Justice, No BART” crowded onto a BART train at Civic Center station on July 11, 2011. The group was protesting July 3, 2011 shooting death of Charles Hill by BART Police officers. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Bay Area Rapid Transit service has returned to normal Monday night, hours after it was disrupted by protests at several San Francisco stations.

Shortly before the start of Monday evening’s commute, close to 100 demonstrators gathered at Civic Center station.

BART and San Francisco Municipal Railway service was temporarily suspended at that shared station after the protesters attempted to prevent an East Bay-bound BART train from departing there.

The demonstrators then moved between the Powell and 16th Street stations, and the agencies instituted full and partial closures, inconveniencing hundreds of transit riders.

The group No Justice, No BART, which organized the protest, said it is demanding that the BART Police Department be disbanded after BART police officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man at the station last week.

The group is also demanding that both of the two officers involved in the July 3 shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill be fired and criminally charged if it is found that the shooting was not justified.

The dwindling group of demonstrators took to Market Street just before 7 p.m. and marched from Civic Center to Powell Street, where San Francisco police officers blocked about a dozen protesters from traveling up Powell Street.

About as many police officers had formed a line to block the protesters’ path.

Monday’s protest was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on the platform of the Civic Center station. Several dozen people had gathered at the station by 4:45 p.m., and BART safety officers in green vests had a notable presence on the train platform.

>>Auditor To Investigate SF BART Police Shooting

BART police in riot gear monitored the situation and had non-lethal weapons ready.

By 5:15 p.m. the crowd had thickened and began chanting “No justice, no peace, disband the BART police” and “Cops, pigs, murderers.”

Once one East Bay-bound train had inched into the station, some protesters boarded the train and began banging on the train’s windows. After about 10 minutes, safety officers and police were able to close the train’s doors and the train departed the station.

Shortly afterward, around 5:20 p.m., the station’s LED message boards displayed messages informing passengers that no trains would be stopping at Civic Center station.

By 5:30 p.m., Muni announced that its service had also been suspended at the station.

By 6 p.m., some of the group had moved to Powell Street station where they were chanting and screaming on the BART platform. At some point before then, the platform had temporarily been closed because of overcrowding related to the influx of passengers displaced from Civic Center station.

It appeared that all of the protesters boarded a Daly City-bound train at 6:17 p.m. Although some of them attempted to block the doors and prevent the train from leaving the station, the train departed a few minutes later.

All BART service returned to normal by 8 p.m.

Earlier on Monday BART spokesman Linton Johnson said such a protest would be illegal.

“Disruptive protests like this planned on small platforms with fast moving trains and large crowds are against the law because they put … riders, BART workers, journalists and protesters at serious risk of injury or death,” he said.

After the disruptions, Johnson criticized the demonstrators’ actions.

“These fringe groups have apparently shown no regard for the work of their fellow citizens and, of course, the customers on the train, the elderly—all those folks who need Civic Center station open and rely on the station,” he said.

Johnson said that the station was closed “to maintain safety at an inconvenience to the elderly, the disabled” and all other customers because of the demonstrators’ actions.

Johnson said that BART police had not made any arrests as of 6 p.m.

Hill was wielding a knife and a broken alcohol bottle before BART police shot him on the train platform, Johnson said.

BART police said Hill was aggressive and combative and did not comply with orders. One of the officers suffered minor cuts during the confrontation, BART officials said.

A Facebook page has been set up for the rally, and as of Monday morning, more than 370 people had indicated they would attend.

No Justice, No BART was formed in response to the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant III. Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward resident who was unarmed, was shot and killed by then-BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale station in Oakland.

>> Photo Gallery: The Shooting of Oscar Grant

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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