Police make arrests during SF bay transit protest

August 30, 2011 - 10:15 AM
Transit Wireless Cut

Bay Area Rapid Transit Police stand guard inside of the Civic Center BART Station to protect against a planned protest of the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency's recent shut down of cell phone service during a rally to protest a police shooting, in San Francisco, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Darryl Bush)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco transit commute went smoothly for the first Monday in two weeks as demonstrators — acknowledging that disruptive protests of the two previous Monday nights have angered commuters — stayed away from train platforms, where protests have been barred for safety reasons.

About 75 protesters gathered above the Bay Area Rapid Transit system's Civic Center station shortly after 5 p.m. and marched on the sidewalks down San Francisco's Market Street. The busy downtown corridor runs over the BART tracks and the protesters briefly gathered in front of three other BART stations to chant slogans and yell at police.

Two protesters were arrested in BART's Embarcadero station, outside the fare gates and a floor above the platform.

As demonstrators were taunting police and chanting slogans, one of the organizers went through the turnstiles with a megaphone and chanted an anti-police slogan. The scene turned chaotic as the dozens of police in riot gear pulled out their night sticks and pushed protesters, reporters and commuters away from the two arrestees.

The two were arrested after they protested in prohibited areas, BART spokesman Jim Allison said. San Francisco police arrested four others on Market Street for allegedly impeding traffic and refusing orders to leave the street and stop blocking traffic.

Demonstrators were protesting the July 3 shooting death by BART police of a transient, as well transit officials' decision to shut off wireless access at its San Francisco stations to quell a planned protest Aug. 11.

BART police said they and the San Francisco Police Department and San Francisco District Attorney's office continue to investigate the shooting death of Charles Hill, 45, who police have said lunged at them with a knife at the Civic Center station.

The BART Board of Directors said last week it would develop a policy that empowers police to cut wireless service at its stations only in rare circumstances when public safety is in jeopardy and there are no other alternatives.