Police Arrest BART Protesters

Several dozen protesters faced off with riot police.

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BART riot police engage protesters. (Google)

News One is reporting that several dozen protesters faced off with riot police at a downtown Bay Area Rapid Transit station Thursday in the latest demonstration against the transit agency and its police department, leading to a two-hour shutdown of the station during rush hour and as many as 30 arrests.

Protesters had promised to block the fare gates at BART's Powell Street station in an effort to force the agency to open the gates and allow passengers to exit for free to avoid a crush of people. Police instead blocked the gates before demonstrators could get near them and began ordering the crowd to disperse as nightstick-wielding officers advanced in formation to force everyone out of the station.

Police later said that they had determined the situation at the station had become unsafe for passengers.

"We could not maintain a safe atmosphere with the station open and with patrons walking around and trying to get through the traffic that was created," said BART Deputy Police Chief Daniel Hartwig.

Police were still compiling the exact number of arrests, but Hartwig estimated the number to be between 26 and 30, including some members of the media. He said that all were arrested on suspicion of interfering with the safe operation of a transit system.

The now near-weekly protests at BART stations that started over the summer initially stemmed from anger over the fatal July 3 shooting of a 45-year-old transient whom BART police said officers shot after he lunged at them with a knife. Last month BART cut cellphone service to some stations to curtail demonstrations, a move that touched off an outcry among free-speech activists and led to cyberattacks against the agency by the hacker collective Anonymous.

Is this America or China? Cutting phone service is not cool and should be protested. The mayors of Oakland and San Francisco need to come together and do something about all of the drama with the BART police and the public. Clearly, it is out of hand.

Read more at News One.

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