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Protesters Target BART For 3rd Straight Monday

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A commuter looks on as a BART train pulls into a station in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Police kept protesters in San Francisco corralled to sidewalks and outside of BART station fare gates Monday night, preventing any major traffic disruptions or station closures.

Two protesters were arrested at the Embarcadero station after the men crossed a fare gate.

One of the protesters who was arrested spoke to the crowd with a megaphone before crossing into the paid area of the station, announcing that BART administration, and not protesters, were responsible for the previous weeks’ station shutdowns.

The protesters had gathered surrounding the fare gates, which BART has said is a free-speech zone. The demonstrator addressing the crowd used a ticket to pass through the gates, and told the crowd he was about to “test” that principle.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

After briefly leading the crowd in a chant of, “No justice, no peace, disband the BART police,” he left the paid area and returned to the crowd.

After several minutes, BART police moved into the crowd to arrest him and one other man. BART released a statement tonight saying the two were arrested for “interfering with BART operations.”

BART closed no stations, and all trains ran on time.

The protest started outside the Civic Center station around 5 p.m. Monday, heeding calls by organizers not to gather on the Civic Center station platform, where BART police made swift arrests last week.

Protesters gathered in the plaza were wearing bandanas and masks and were waving signs against police brutality like, “Stop Killing The Poor.”

They attempted to march down Market Street, as they had last week, but San Francisco police blocked any attempt the crowd of about 50 made to move into the streets, keeping them on the sidewalk.

The crowd yelled, “pigs go home” at the officers keeping them confined to the sidewalk.

They marched east on the sidewalk on Market Street, and made stops at the Powell and Montgomery stations, protesting briefly inside the stations but outside of the fare gates. They did not attempt to enter the paid areas.

After the arrests at Embarcadero, there was a brief confrontation with BART police, who kept protesters from entering the station. They then left the station, and attempted to move onto Market Street, but were again blocked by San Francisco police.

Protesters then walked quietly back to Civic Center Plaza, where a few entered the Civic Center station, but they did not make any attempts to disrupt service.

For the third consecutive Monday, BART officials had warned commuters that stations may be closed due to this planned protest by the hacker group “Anonymous.”

The group had instructed protesters Monday to hand out fliers stating their demands instead of entering the stations.

Anonymous began its protests after BART shut down cellphone service at several stations during a separate protest over the shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill.

Protesters were chanting, “Charles didn’t have to die. We all know the reasons why, the whole system is guilty.”

Hill was fatally shot July 3 by BART police after he allegedly threatened officers with a knife and a broken bottle, police said.

Corby Sturges, who commutes to San Francisco from the East Bay, called the protests “misguided.”

“Interfering with the commute is not making much of a difference at BART headquarters,” Sturges said.

Kate Svinarich, who commutes to San Francisco from Oakland, called the protests “more irritating than convincing.”

Someone set up a Facebook page titled “Commuters Take Back BART.”

The page said there would be a counter-protest Monday.

“BART commuters are sick and tired of ‘protests’ interfering with our right to use public transit, so we can earn a living and get back to our families,” the site states.

Despite a few brief confrontations with bystanders, there were no signs of counter protests.

BART shut down cellphone service in the stations during a protest Aug. 15 and has closed multiple downtown stations in response to each protest.

Last Monday’s protest resulted in the closure of the Civic Center and Powell Street stations and the arrest of about 40 people by San Francisco police.

BART spokesman Jim Allison said, “We support peaceful protests so long as they’re outside the fare gates.”

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

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