Despite assurances from BART that it would shut down cellphone service only during major emergencies, protesters are still planning to jam up the evening commute Monday, and some activists said they won’t stop until the agency’s police force is disbanded.
BART has weathered international criticism for its decision to shut down cellphone service Aug. 11 in an effort to prevent a planned protest. Commuters have suffered the brunt of that anger, as activists have used peak-travel times to stage their protests, forcing lengthy delays and station shutdowns.
BART has justified shutting down stations as a safety precaution, saying overcrowded platforms would put passengers and protesters at risk.
The agency’s board of directors discussed the cellphone decision at a special meeting Wednesday. Some members, such as Lynette Sweet and Tom Radulovich, said the agency overreacted on Aug. 11.
“We’ve made a mistake and we’re sorry,” said Sweet. “Right now, we don’t know how we’re going to get rid of protesters, because they’re protesting for the right reasons.”
The majority of the directors said that cellphone service should be shut down only in the wake of serious events, such as bomb scares or terrorist threats.
That stance would not meet the demands made by Anonymous, a shadowy activist group that has led the most recent BART protests.
The collective has scheduled another protest for 5 p.m. Monday, and there was no indication that Wednesday’s meeting would change those plans.
“We’re not done yet,” read one post Wednesday on YourAnonNews Twitter feed, a site that has attracted many followers of the group.
Two other main Anonymous feeds — AnonyOps and OpBART — made posts indicating that Monday’s protest would proceed as planned.
A separate activist group — called No Justice, No BART — said it would continue to protest until the agency disbands its police force. The eight BART board members present Wednesday said that would not happen.
Anonymous said it would protest until BART fires spokesman Linton Johnson and police chief Kenton Rainey, apologizes for shutting down cellphone service and opens a new investigation into the July 3 shooting of Charles Hill by BART officers.
Members affiliated with Anonymous posted a lewd photo of Johnson online on Wednesday. Johnson, who played a major role in BART’s decision to shut down cellphone service, has been on leave from the agency due to a family emergency.
Timeline of events
- July 3: Charles Hill shot and killed in scuffle with officers.
- July 11: Protesters hold open doors, climb atop cars and force closure of three stations.
- Aug. 11: BART shuts down cell phone service in downtown stations to prevent protest
- Aug. 14: Hackers access MyBART.org and reveal data of thousands of riders.
- Aug. 17: Hackers post personal information online about BART police officers