SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – More than 20 protesters were arrested at San Francisco’s Powell Street station Thursday evening at a rally organized by a group whose goal is to disband the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department.

An estimated 25 to 30 protesters were arrested by BART and San Francisco police officers on suspicion of interfering or disturbing the safe operation of a railroad after they were corralled together in a circle outside the fare gates, shutting the station down for about two hours, according to BART police Deputy Chief Daniel Hartwig.

The group “No Justice, No Bart” organized the protest, which drew dozens of supporters who are angry about the fatal shooting of Charles Hill, 45, at Civic Center station by BART police officers on July 3. Hill was allegedly wielding knives and a broken bottle as weapons when he was shot, police said.

Protesters filed into Powell Street station carrying signs reading “Disband BART Cops” and chanting “How can they protect and serve us? BART Police just make me nervous!” around 5 p.m.

The group marched around the concourse before huddling together outside the fare gates. At this point, BART police officers told protesters to disperse and many left the station, except for about 25 people.

Officers circled the remaining protesters, who cried out, “I’m being arrested for what BART administration told me to do.” At about 5:30 p.m., officials closed the station’s gates at Hallidie Plaza and blocked off all entrances. Passengers still exiting trains at the station were ushered out.

A couple of protesters pushed against police officers and were arrested and taken away in handcuffs. Most of the remaining protesters who were arrested would be cited and released, Hartwig said. Members of the media were also asked to leave the station.

Dozens of protesters and onlookers remained outside the station, including some who chanted “Let them go!” and others who yelled at officers blocking the escalators leading down the concourse.

“BART police are not there to protect the public,” said Callie Maidhof, a spokeswoman for No Justice, No BART.

BART spokesman Jim Allison earlier Thursday said that shutting down the station would be a “last resort” and would happen only if the safety of travelers was threatened.

“We don’t have an issue with protests,” Allison said. “We have an issue with them interfering with people who wish to take the train home.”

KCBS’ Chris Filppi Reports:

Allison said BART has spent about $300,000 on increased manpower and overtime expenses during the protests that have taken place at San Francisco stations over the past two months.

“It’s money we would rather spend on things like making sure the system’s in a state of good repair or reinvesting in the infrastructure, but if we have to spend it to make sure trains are on time and people are safe during these demonstrations, we do that,” Allison said.

Maidhof said protesters were within their rights to gather outside of the fare gates.

“People shouted and had signs and police came in and arrested them,” she said. “(Do) they think coming in and arresting people just for shouting will improve their image?”

The Powell Street station was reopened at 7:25 p.m. and no other stations were closed during the protests. No significant train delays were caused as a result of the rally.

No Justice, No BART originally formed in 2009 to protest the BART police shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland.

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

Comments (20)
  1. Kodiax says:

    yeah thats real smart… lets cause trouble at BART until they get rid of the people hired to prevent trouble on BART………

  2. W says:

    bunch of idiots. Get a life already and leave us working people alone!

  3. jen says:

    And today Obama suggested rabid transit across the country. Gee, the elite left protesters could shut down transportation at a new station daily for the rest of their lives. What fun!

  4. Bobby says:

    When are these people gonna realize that they are only hurting the hard working people of the Bay Area. This isn’t hurting BART. These guys are worse than the idiots that caused the original problems, the thugs that BART police try to keep us safe from.

    1. Darwin says:

      They do not care that they are hurting the normal commuters. Commuters should start kicking the bejeezus out of these fools! It would be great stress relief!

  5. amused bystander says:

    Well done, protesters. You are succeeding in your mission to line the coffers of Bart Police with overtime pay.

  6. Bay Area says:

    man, I hate bandwagoners. They are totally wasting everybody’s time and money. Stop the protest!!!

  7. NO BART says:

    KEEP PROTESTING! People who dislike you are slaves to the system or they benefit from it unlike all of us! No justice, no BART!!!!

    1. W says:

      And please please don’t ever take Bart again! Bart will not miss you. And you’re an idiot!

      1. TRC says:

        Its not just BART that wont miss them. The regular riders wont either.

  8. Justice for Rabble Rousers says:

    “(Do) they think coming in and arresting people just for shouting will improve their image?”

    Yes because everyone wants you to shut up and get out of the way.

  9. Usuck says:

    CBS News is on the side of the protestors. I keep trying to post my comments about protestors and they refuse to post.

  10. Peace says:

    STOP GIVING THESE LOSERS WITH NO JOBS ATTENTION. These protestors have nothing better to do and they love the attention. The meldia is the cause of this in my opinion. Stop reporting it and stop adding more officers. Please let the good commuting people do as they will to these protestors in order to get on Bart and ride safely.

  11. WHY says:

    Callie Maidhof is mentally disabled so he doesn’t understand what she is saying.

  12. fefaewfe says:

    Hey Callie Maidhof, How dare you start a movement to remove protection from Bart. If you do not like Bart then DON”T RIDE IT! You are truly evil.

  13. smarter says: they claim to have vandalized the Glen park station.

  14. Ben says:

    Right message, wrong approach. I’m guessing they won’t go away until BART actually does something to prevent extreme over reactions by BART cops. Oh, and BTW, why doesn’t SFPD arrest cyclists at critical mass demonstrations? Kind of a double standard, don’t you think?

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