The system kept fighting against the people, but the people refused to be silenced.
A group of hackers calling themselves Anonymous led a rally earlier this week protesting Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). The shooting death of a homeless man by BART officers is currently undergoing an internal investigation.
Anonymous held peaceful protests at the Civic Center Station and three other stations. The group wore shirts stained with “blood” to remember those who were killed by BART police. The group also took credit for hacking BART’s website on Sunday BART issued an alert late Sunday saying it may be forced to temporarily close some stations and suspend wireless service again due to the rally, and that passengers should prepare an alternative plan during the rush hour.
Last Thursday, BART suspended cell phone service during the three-hour block of time organizers initially planned on protesting at several BART stations to prevent them from communicating. BART Chief Communications Officer Linton Johnson spoke with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin about the situation and said that the organization chose the rights of the consumers over the rights of the protesters.
“I had no idea what was going to happen next,” said Johnson. “Landing on third rails…glass windows breaking. We made a gut-wrenching decision that was forced upon us by these protesters.”
What was forced on them? “They made us choose between people’s ability to use their mobile phones and our customers’ right to safety.” A public statement released by BART late last week emphasized that point.
“BART’s primary purpose is to provide, safe, secure, efficient, reliable and clean transportation services,” the statement read. “BART accommodates expressive activities that are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Liberty of Speech Clause of the California Constitution (expressive activity), and has made available certain areas of its property for expressive activity.”
However, BART may be in trouble with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC is investigating BART’s decision to suspend wireless service and determine if they put the public safety at risk in order to stop protesters. Neil Grace, an FCC spokesman, said that the agency is continuing to collect information on the matter, and it “will be taking [steps] to hear from stakeholders about the important issues those actions raised.”
Back in July, BART Officer James Crowell was identified as the man who shot and killed Charles Blair Hill, a knife-wielding homeless man, during one of his last shifts as a BART officer. Crowell initially resigned amid the hoopla, but later rescinded his resignation and returned to duty.
Crowell was planning on becoming an FBI agent, and Harry Stern, Crowell’s attorney, last month said he will eventually join the FBI after he is cleared of wrongdoing.
Crowell shot Hill, 45, after Hill advanced on him and a partner with a knife with a 4-inch blade as he wound up to throw the weapon, BART said.
Much of the protests at BART stations recently are a result of the Hill killing and of the acquittal of officers who shot and killed Oscar Grant, an unarmed Black man, on New Year’s Eve 2009.