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BART Protest Leads To Temporary Station Closures

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Police in riot gear stand watch at BART's Embarcadero station. (CBS 5 viewer photo)

Police in riot gear stand watch at BART’s Embarcadero station. (CBS 5 viewer photo)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Dozens of protesters gathered on Bay Area Rapid Transit platforms in downtown San Francisco on Monday evening in response to the agency’s interruption of cellphone service to prevent another protest last week.

About 50 protesters stood on the Civic Center station platform at the foot of an escalator chanting “no justice, no peace.” They also swarmed a BART train, trying to prevent its departure, prompting the station’s temporary closure.

At various points, BART also closed the Powell Street, Montgomery Street and Embarcadero stations temporarily due to what agency spokesman Jim Allison termed “dangerous overcrowding.”

The San Francisco Municipal Railway also briefly suspended service at those stations because of the BART protest. The two agencies share the stations.

Rush hour commuters on their way home from work audibly expressed anger at the protesters over the inconvenience caused by the service disruptions.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig:

Cellphone service was still available on the Civic Center station platform during Monday evening’s protest. Several people associated with the protest paced the platform while speaking loudly into their cellphones, repeatedly saying, “Can you hear me now?”

Other demonstrators held signs reading, “Protect free speech,” “I believe in free speech,” and “You can jail a revolutionary, but you cannot jail the revolution.”

The hacker protest group “Anonymous” apparently organized the protest, and was also taking credit for a cyber attack that resulted in the release of personal information for at least 2,400 users of the agency’s myBART.org website over the weekend.

BART officials have said that their decision to cut cellphone service last Thursday due to a threatened protest over a BART police shooting case was made out of concern for passengers’ safety. The move was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union and others.

On Monday evening, as some commuters made angry gestures and shouted back at the crowd of demonstrators, one protester responded, “What’s more inconvenient: missing your train or getting shot by a cop?”

KCBS’ Bob Melrose:

Updates on service disruptions due to the protest were being posted at www.bart.gov and www.511.org.

People reporting security or safety issues on BART trains or stations were asked by officials to call 911, BART police at (510) 464-7000, use the train intercom, or call San Francisco police at (415) 553-8090.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

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