Fresh from our "Is this China or Egypt?" file, Jorge Rivas of ColorLines is reporting that the BART train system came to a halt at its four busiest stations during rush hour Monday as demonstrators protested a decision by agency officials last week to cut underground cellphone service in an effort to stifle an earlier police-brutality protest.

Protesters have been scheduling occasional demonstrations since the July 3 shooting of Charles Hill by BART police officers. Reports say Hill approached police with a knife in his hands, but protesters say police officers used excessive force by fatally shooting him.

A video released by the BART administration in July shows BART officers exiting a train and 25 seconds later shooting Hill. He had a knife with a 4-inch blade and was approaching officers "menacingly," according to BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey. The video shows a knife flying through the air toward one of the BART cops, but it missed him, reports the San Francisco Examiner.


Hill's death came three weeks after former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle's release from prison. Mehserle shot and killed unarmed train rider Oscar Grant on New Year's Day 2009.

But at last Thursday's scheduled protest, BART officials shut down underground cellphone service to quell demonstrators from connecting with one another and prevent social network updates. The decision to  shut down service sparked an even bigger protest Monday, and now hackers are taking park in the actions.

Wow, cutting off cell service to stop a protest. What is this? China? Egypt? No, this is America, where it is a First Amendment right to protest, so cutting off cell service is a no-go. The more we point fingers at other countries, the more we find instances in this democratic society that mimic those in countries that frown on democracy. How sad is it that protest is being stymied by the powers that be? How great is it that protesters are finding ways to circumvent the agencies, as was the case in China and Egypt?

We won't even touch fatally shooting a man who no longer had a knife in his possession, and so soon after the Oscar Grant case? To borrow a phrase from the film classic Gone With the Wind, it looks like "Frankly, they don't give a damn."


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story suggested that Charles Hill is African-American. Mr. Hill is Anglo-American. We regret the error.

Read more at ColorLines.

In other news: Chiwetel Ejiofor Tapped for 'Twelve Days a Slave.'

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