BART Police Arrest Journalists, Cite KGO, KTVU at BART Protest. Homeland Security Present

Thursday’s No Justice No BART protest–which shut down Powell Street Station in San Francisco–turned into an ugly attack on free speech and freedom of the press when BART police arrested between 25 and 30 people, a third of whom are reported to be journalists, including seven student journalists from San Francisco State University and the Chronicle’s Vivian Ho. Ho, and others were cited for interfering with transit; the student journalists were not cited. Also arrested: No Justice No BART organizer Krystoff.

During the event protesters and the press stayed outside the platform areas of the station. No Justice No BART had called for the demonstration to take place in front of the fare gates in an effort to force BART to open the emergency exits, allowing passengers walk out for free. The portion of BART stations before the turnstiles is considered to be, has been stated by BART to be, a free speech area.

Also on hand, the Department of Homeland Security.


BART police cited the local ABC and CBS news crews reporting on the protests, and some journalists had their San Francisco Police Department-issued credentials confiscated by the SFPD, who aided the BART cops.

The student journalists’ adviser/instructor Justin Becker–whose Twitter feed was instrumental in our reporting of the BART Board of Directors meeting last month–Tweeted

in response to:

Reporter Joshua Wolf–who spent 226 days in prison for protecting his sources, longer than any other journalist in U.S. history–was also detained, but was released and posted great photos. One student journalist tweeted that another was jabbed in the stomach with a baton when she tried to take a photo.

Police surrounded protesters then told them to leave or they would be arrested, a point one reporter brought up doing the press conference above. (During an earlier #OpBART protest, some protesters claimed SFPD arrested them for blocking traffic after ordering them off the sidewalk.)

Arresting journalists for doing their jobs? Arresting students for doing their homework? WTF, BART Police? Anonymous #OpBART said it best:

BART caused the ongoing BART protests and drew Anonymous’s wrath when they shut off cellphone service August 11 to prevent a potential demonstration by No Justice No BART–the organizer’s of Thursday’s event, supported by Anonymous–protesting the shooting death of Charles Hill at the hands of a BART police officer.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian reported that most of the arrestees were cited for:

violation of Penal Code Section 369i, which makes it a crime to disrupt rail service, outlawing activities that “would interfere with, interrupt, or hinder the safe and efficient operation of any locomotive, railway car, or train.”…

The professional journalists in the group have been released after being detained for about 30 minutes, and they’ve been shepherded into an area where they can no longer see the group of arrestees. But a group of three to five San Francisco State University journalism students who don’t have press credentials remain in custody, despite repeated appeals to the police by their faculty advisor Justin Beck.

The Homeland Security Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) unit

an anti-terror unit charged with protecting transportation infrastructure from potential acts of terrorism run by the Transportation Security Administration.

were also present at Thursday’s protest, as they were on August 30. The Department of Justice was present at all #OpBART protests, KALW also reports:

The United States Department of Justice also had personnel on hand for the recent protests by the hacktivist group Anonymous. Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, confirmed that DoJ sent a member of its Community Relations Service to all three OpBART demonstrations this month. CRS, formed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is DoJ’s “peacemaker” for conflicts and tensions stemming from racial or ethnic tensions or civil disorder. Hinojosa also confirmed that CRS staff were present at July and November demonstrations in Oakland over the conviction and sentencing of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Oscar Grant.

VinceintheBay snapped this shot tonight, a perfect expression of San Francisco. But with BART Police behaving as they did Thursday and on August 11, not to mention shooting people at BART stations–free speech is getting squelched, and with it the heart and spirit of San Francisco.

Vince also has raw footage of the protest on his YouTube. Here’s part 1

photo 1:  estimarlqk, via OpBART Twitter (estimarlq was also cited by BART Police)

photo 2: VinceintheBay, via OpBART Twitter

30 Responses to "BART Police Arrest Journalists, Cite KGO, KTVU at BART Protest. Homeland Security Present"
rabidbadger | Thursday September 8, 2011 10:12 pm 1

This reminds me of when SFPD Chief Dick Hongisto directed officers to perform early-morning raids confiscating hundreds of copies of the BAY Times, a free weekly featuring a a cover story criticizing his handling of post-Rodney King protesters. The SFPD has a long history of both abusing protesters and interfering with the press.

DonWilliams | Friday September 9, 2011 12:47 am 2

This is exactly why dependence on public transportation is a very bad idea.

Lisa Derrick | Friday September 9, 2011 03:07 am 3

Don, you care!

EFerrari | Friday September 9, 2011 06:16 am 4

Has anyone asked at what point DHS became involved because I’ve wondered if the cell phone shutdown was entirely BART’s idea.

Lisa Derrick | Friday September 9, 2011 06:32 am 5
In response to EFerrari @ 4

The Homeland Security VIPR teams are “force mutlipliers” who have been deployed more than 50 times since the program began in 2005, and regularly patrol New York’s Metro North and Long Island Railroad commuter system, increasing the terrorism deterrent effect. The VIPR team is part of the TSA, and their job is to protect transportation.

From a DHS point of view,a protest could provide cover for some nefarious action, not necessarily caused by the protesters, but by someone using them as a a distraction. And/or BART is freaked out.

EFerrari | Friday September 9, 2011 07:00 am 6

Hi, Lisa. The thing is, it has seemed to me that DHS has had a hand in this since before the cell phone shutdown because 1) Spokesmen don’t usually make security decisions and Johnson’s story that it was his idea is not very credible. 2) BART management has always been more conservative than that. It’s unlikely they’d shut down cell service without consulting the state or the feds for legal first. 3) BART had a slick video ready to go within 24 hrs of the shutdown. So when did they hire those actors, lol? 4) The FCC chimed in on the issue almost immediately and when does the FCC ever get to anything in less than a week?

The stuff about the press credentials being grabbed yesterday also seems new around here but definitely reminiscent of Minneapolis where the Feds also were running parts of the show.

It’s looked to me like the feds have been in this from the shutdown on, anyway.

fitley | Friday September 9, 2011 07:38 am 7

And cops continue to be pieces of shit. Some things never change.

yellowsnapdragon | Friday September 9, 2011 07:41 am 8

Glad to see this post on the front page. So, how many protesters were present yesterday? How can the DHS possibly justify its pesence at so small an action? The purpose of DHS is to protect against terrorism not prevent the free exercise of constitutionally guaranteed political speech. Jeeze.

edur | Friday September 9, 2011 07:46 am 9

Be sure to pour some Flowers in their bores!

Kevin Gosztola | Friday September 9, 2011 07:49 am 10

BART police are in a war with—guess who they are in a war with? Protesters. These aren’t thugs that are carrying out flash mob attacks on passengers. They aren’t fighting gangs that have turned BART transit into a zone for squaring off and settling scores. BART police is in a war against… Protesters, people who believe they have the right to peacefully assemble on platforms and exercise First Amendment rights.

That must be made clear. Secondly, BART police is the spectacle the media comes to see. The media is now being cited and obstructed from doing coverage. Journalism students are being corralled and arrested for being present to cover what I think is news for any community. The violation of press freedom is egregious and unacceptable. But, more importantly, BART is unwilling to just let the press be because if they do the protesters can claim victory.

Commuters are caught in a dispute about turf. That is what any pissed-off Bay Area resident must understand. It doesn’t have to be this ugly. BART is making the situation awful for everyone.

Good post.

Shoto | Friday September 9, 2011 07:51 am 11

So these cops are popping journalists now? In SF, no less? And Homeland Security, too? Seriously? This country’s goin’ off the rails (if you’ll pardon the expression). If there’s any redeeming quality at all to this thing, however, it’s that CBS and ABC affiliates were recipients of the police largesse, which might just give the story a bit of traction.

OK, I admit it. I was delusional there for a second. I’m all better now.

yellowsnapdragon | Friday September 9, 2011 07:56 am 12
In response to Kevin Gosztola @ 10

Nothing I’ve heard or seen on local news — including KTVU, whose journalist was cited — has included information that would put protesters in a positive light or indicate that the police have closed the stations rather than protesters. Molesting journalists like this will likely exacerbate the situation. BART & DHS are clueless.

nanb | Friday September 9, 2011 07:59 am 13

“Those who dont remember/learn from History…etc.”

How very interesting that the Homeland Security wear Black Shirts and arrest peaceful citizens exercising their right to assemble and protest.

Now, what was that about the Black Shirts of Nazi Germany ? What was it that they did so well ?

This is a preview of how our so-called Free Democratic National government will respond to so far legal non violent public demonstrations ? How Dare those (Terrorists?) threaten Commerce !!

alan1tx | Friday September 9, 2011 07:59 am 14

They should just shut down the whole station.

Denn | Friday September 9, 2011 08:04 am 15
In response to Shoto @ 11

Our journalists will be just fine once they’re all absorbed by the new Ministry of Truth. This will all disappear into the memory hole. Nothing to see anyway, and all that.

yellowsnapdragon | Friday September 9, 2011 08:06 am 16
In response to alan1tx @ 14

… or maybe BART police should just stop killing people. That would work too. And it would be much more convenient for commuters.

nanb | Friday September 9, 2011 08:07 am 17
In response to nanb @ 13

sorry…duh..I did the forgetting . The Black Shirts were the Italian Fascists …not German, who were Brown Shirts. n.

arcadesproject | Friday September 9, 2011 08:08 am 18

I thought the USA was a ‘free speech area’.Silly me.

Denn | Friday September 9, 2011 08:10 am 19
In response to nanb @ 13

Was just talking with a colleague about personality disorders. He mentioned the lack of color in their wardrobes: everything was either black or white. Cops like the black because it’s intimidating; even here in inland SoCal, where it normally reaches triple-digit temps, they insist on wearing unpractical black.

Denn | Friday September 9, 2011 08:15 am 20
In response to nanb @ 17

The German SS wore black. The Brownshirts were the early street thugs who were later absorbed into the military when they had accomplished their political function.

eCAHNomics | Friday September 9, 2011 08:21 am 21

Police state.

Shoto | Friday September 9, 2011 08:27 am 22
In response to Denn @ 15

Ministry of Truth. I like that. They’ll probably have their own cable channel before we know it. Wait: They already have three. I stand corrected.

Denn | Friday September 9, 2011 08:35 am 23
In response to Shoto @ 22

I miss the good old days when Orwell was merely a warning, not a manual.

Lisa Derrick | Friday September 9, 2011 09:33 am 24

No Justice No BART has much more aggressive protest techniques compared to Anonymous, NJNB are direct action, hardcore. Their protest July 11 included someone climbing on a train, and they shut down BART services that day for a couple hours. Since then, BART and the SFPD have gotten more forceful with protesters and journalists (note surrounding protesters then telling them to leave, while the protesters were in fact in a free speech area).

However, NJNB is annoying the BART riders, which may not be the best tactic. Remains to be seen. Alienating one’s base is not a good thing, Obama.

I feel safer with some security on platforms and in stations. But for goodness sakes, armed with tasers and pepper spray maybe and not guns. Or train them in Krav Maga! The reality is that police don’t have to macho overbearing goon squad members to do a good job, but sadly that’s what has happened (google Fullerton police beating and for Anonymous’ response, OpFullerton)

I will be in SF on Monday covering the OpBART-5 with a the number of the National Lawyers Guild on my arm in indelible ink, a video camera and FDL business cards. Expect me.

darkcycle | Friday September 9, 2011 09:38 am 25

Harsh treatment for protestors is the new official policy. This is Obama’s policy Nationally, not just the SFPD.
The protests in the Eurozone and the Arab World are coming here, and the O-fascist doesn’t want large public spectacles….at all. Holding the Tar sands protestors on federal orders was the mildest sort of thing we can expect. Batons and crushing police assaults are the new normal. Here’s a clue…if we had any sense at all, we’d be approaching these protests like the North Korean Youths do every September. Bricks, Masks, and Molotov cocktails.
Rolling over and be beaten while my wrists are being handcuffed, only to be ignored by the MSM isn’t my style. We should be prepared for clashes with this new police state. Otherwise they will be PAINFULLY one sided. Let’s not all freak out and succumb to “normalcy bias”, if this were “normal” times I’d have never suggested such a thing. But the time for saying “no more” is gone. It’s time to push BACK.

ottogrendel | Friday September 9, 2011 11:07 am 26
In response to yellowsnapdragon @ 8

“How can the DHS possibly justify its pesence at so small an action?”

They want the practice.

ottogrendel | Friday September 9, 2011 11:11 am 27

Or how brutal police tactics continued in Germany in the ’60s after the government stepped all over the country’s new post-war constitution.

yellowsnapdragon | Friday September 9, 2011 01:05 pm 28
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 24


laurastrand | Friday September 9, 2011 04:36 pm 29
In response to Denn @ 15

The revolution WILL NOT be televised.

gannonguckert | Friday September 9, 2011 06:49 pm 30
In response to ottogrendel @ 27


“continued” since when?

You’re equating the Gestapo with 1960′s (West) German police?


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