Earlier Thursday Facebook removed the page for the planned “BART Friday: No Business as Usual” event.
The protest is expected to possibly shut down BART transit across the Bay Area as demonstrators arrive at Montgomery station's platform.
But the Facebook event page, which now has over 400 people who have promised to attend the protest, was closed down by Facebook earlier today.
“Free speech is continually under attack by corporations, legislators and the National Security Agency,” Amai Freeman, a spokesperson for the protest, told The Examiner. “I think Facebook definitely demonstrated its willingness to suppress people's ability to organize. By shutting down the event page a day before our action, I believe our free speech was definitely violated.”
The page was restored only minutes after news reports surfaced about the page being removed.
“This was definitely a political action on behalf of Facebook, protecting BART,” Freeman claimed. “Given that the page was restored seconds after news reported on it, we're pleased to see Facebook retracted its initial action after press pressure.”
A BART spokesperson told The Examiner that it did not contact Facebook to take down the page. When asked if BART took down the page at the urging of any government or law enforcement agency, Facebook was direct.
“The answer is no,” a spokesperson said.
“The event has been removed until the administrator can verify his or her account,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote to The Examiner. “We have personally reached out to the administrator to explain the steps that can be taken to verify their account so the event can be restored.”
Though Facebook said the event was taken down due to a verification issue, the protesters argue that the page was restored only after pressure from journalists.
The protesters are demanding that the BART police be disbanded, that low-income persons be given discount BART tickets, and that BART drops charges and the $70,000 requested restitution fines against the “Black Friday 14” protesters who blocked BART trains in November.
BART General Manager Grace Crunican has asked the Alameda County district attorney to charge the “Black Friday 14” with community service as an alternative, and no new developments have yet been announced.