SAN FRANCISCO -- Several dozen protesters marched down Market Street to three different BART stations Monday evening in the latest rally against the transit agency, its police force and policies, but commute trains continued to run without disruption.
First at Powell Street, then at Montgomery and Embarcadero stations, protesters walked inside the stations but did not pass the fare gates, instead standing outside the gates and chanting, "No justice, no peace, disband the BART police." BART officials had said that peaceful protests would be tolerated outside the gates. Two men passed through fare gates at the Embarcadero station and were detained by police.
"All stations remained open and all trains on time, and that's what our customers want," BART spokesman Jim Allison said.
BART had warned commuters earlier Monday about the group's plans after previous protests had halted trains and closed downtown stations. Anonymous, the group organizing the demonstrators, had requested that protesters not cause disruptions, sending out a message: "Let us be perfectly clear: The BART operation and the protests surrounding it should be focused on the continuing brutality and unaccountability of the Bay Area Transit Police."
It was the fourth protest since the July 3 shooting by BART police of Charles Hill, a 45-year-old homeless man, at the Civic Center station. BART police said Hill was intoxicated and disruptive when he threatened officers with a broken bottle and knife before being shot.
On Monday, a group of protesters gathered first at Civic Center Plaza, where they distributed fliers calling for the disbanding of the BART police, the firing of Linton Johnson, the head of the transit agency's communications department, and calling for free speech, a response to BART restrictions on cellphone service that had thwarted an Aug. 11 protest because demonstrators were unable to communicate with each other.
The cellphone restriction prompted technology groups to ask federal regulators Monday to declare that local governments may not block mobile-phone service.
Washington-based Public Knowledge and seven other groups said the Federal Communications Commission also should declare BART violated federal law when it interrupted wireless service at some stations Aug. 11. An FCC spokesman said the agency is reviewing the petition and collecting information about BART's actions. BART is cooperating with the investigation, Allison said.