Protesters disrupt BART during evening commute

July 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Angry protesters gathered during the peak of rush hour Monday evening to call attention to last week's shooting death of a 45-year-old man by BART police officers.

The demonstration began like any other, an organizer on a bullhorn to get the crowd going, but things quickly escalated when a protester climbed on top of an eastbound train. BART employees pulled him down. The tension, however, continued to mount.

Half the group boarded the train in an effort to get their message out.

"We have flyers, we'll be going on and off trains, we'll be educating people as we move," protest organizer Cat Brooks said.

The protest was in honor of Charles Hill, the knife-wielding man who was shot and killed by BART police July 3. Organizers are demanding that the BART police force be disbanded.

"BART's conduct is outrageous, these people have no business going around in public with guns and killing people," protester Kim Rohrbach said.

In all, three BART stations were forced to shut down: Civic Center, Powell Street and 16th Street.

Reaction from BART riders was mixed.

"You know it's their right, but at least, like, do it somewhere else," BART rider Andrew Javier said.

"Inconvenient, but it comes with the territory," BART rider Robin Compton said.

Later in the evening, a splinter group marched on Mission and Market streets. On the way, one protester broke the glass of a Muni bus shelter on Otis Street.

Things finally came to an end at the cable car turnaround at Market and Powell, where protesters came face to face with police in riot gear. While there was a lot of yelling and name calling on the part of the protesters, San Francisco police officer chose to wait it out, and one by one, the protesters left. In the end, only one person was arrested.

Those who were involved in the demonstrations had no regret over the disruption they caused.

"What about the disruption by all the families of loved ones who've been killed by law enforcement? Nobody seems to cover that," protester Mesha Irizarry said.

Also Monday, BART unveiled plans for greater oversight of its police force with a citizen oversight committee and an independent police auditor.

BART's police auditor announced Monday his probe into last week's shooting will parallel those being conducted by BART police, San Francisco police and the district attorney.

Load Comments