BART Questioned Over Cellphone Service Disruption

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Bay Area Rapid Transit officials are having to answer questions about tactics they used to quell Thursday’s planned demonstration at the Civic Center station in San Francisco.

Cellphone service was purposely disrupted for hours at several San Francisco stations after officials received intelligence that a large demonstration might take place, protesting the killing of a man on the Civic Center platform by BART police last month.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

With public safety in mind, BART spokesman Jim Allison said in a statement that they decided to ask wireless carriers to temporarily disrupt service at the select stations.

BART Deputy Police Chief Benson Fairow said they also flooded stations with officers, hoping to stop any possible demonstrations from getting out of hand.

“Our fallback is always, what would I want if one of my loved ones was on the train or on the platform,” he said.

But the move to cut off cell service has been questioned by many people.

“I do think this does raise serious questions about whether or not First Amendment rights were violated,” said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

KCBS Technology Analyst Larry Magid said he has never seen a situation like this before.

KCBS Technology Analyst Larry Magid:

“I understand why protesters would want to use the technology. I understand why BART would want to block it,” he said. “But it does bring up a lot of important issues.”

Allison said that BART police were present on the platforms of the select stations and white courtesy phones were available in case of an emergency.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Mark Seelig
  • Protesters Suck!

    Cell phone coverage underground is not a constitutionally protected right, sorry. It is a perk that was not available until a few years ago. BART did not jam cell phone signals, they just had the power to the underground repeaters turned off.

  • Jmasters

    Good job BART.. Glad it is just repeaters so you can control your property.

  • Bob

    My right to safely use public transportation trumps the rights of any idiot who wants to use their cell phone (or anything else for that matter) to endanger my being. Awesome job BART and BART police. Keep it up.

    • Malia

      Completely agree. Well said. Underground cell service is a perk not a right. If jamming cell service prevents idiots from disrupting service and keeps the passengers safe, I am all for it. These protesters (and I use that term loosely) are only there to cause havoc and incite more violence. They want BART police disband, but would be the first to file a law suit against BART if they had been assaulted by the same knife wielding drunk. No win situation for the cops. Just my 2 cents.

  • hugo poppernuts

    whats the matter, doesn’t anybody know how to use a pay phone anymore?

    • JMasters

      Can’t Text Twitter or Facebook from a pay phone.

  • Jim Bob Duggar

    who is questioning this, the liberal media hoping for violence to be incited and have a story to sell. Way to go BART, they are doing there job of making sure I am safe while in there system, if people don’t like there measures of safety, then don’t use BART, if you don’t like what they do, then don’t use it.

  • Josh Stewart

    Whether or not BART did the right or wrong thing in this is not the question. I think the real question is, what does it mean for a government entity to have the power and leverage to order such a shut down in the first place? I am extremely worried about this!

  • Nikosan


  • Nikosan

    Life is Better in PORTLAND….SUCKA’S

  • Nikosan

    PROPS TO THOSE WHO QUESTION THE AUTHORITARIAN POLICE STATE. EVERYONE ELSE ARE SIMPLY SPINLESS-SHEEP. Where did BART get thier information? Was it illegal espionage? A tipster/Narc? Or a perception? Why did they feel threatened if they felt they were not guilty? Don’t you people question this stuff? America will never standup like others around the world have and are doing. But yet we send our young to DIE in wasted 10 year wars that is bancrupting and dividing us. LOOSERS!

  • Nikosan

    But get ready Somewhere in America people are going to say ENOUGH! Detroit, Miami,Philly, LA or your own back yard…. Unemployment, Poverty, Fascism, Racism, Religous Zelots ect ect, will soon drive a community over the edge. Can you not see it coming?

  • Nikosan

    Oy Vay! Get up, stand up…Don’t give up the fight…Stand up for your rights! Don’t be the other word for a CAT that starts with a ‘P’

  • Denise Selna Nelson

    Certainly the cell shut off raises many questions. I am happy we are learning from recent riots and demonstrations around the world to keep us a bit safer. We all have the right to protest, but where does it say we have the right to protest while updating our Facebook status?

  • asd

    GOOOOOOOOOD job BART Police- Take these idiots down.

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