- "BART's shut-off of subterranean
cell phone service in its downtown San Francisco stations may have prevented
a protest Thursday, but it sparked accusations Friday that the action stifled
free speech and smacked of the kind of government intrusion employed by
Middle East dictators.
- k) BART is a federal commuter-agency not a locally owned
transportation agency. It's filthy, its equipment is out-ofdate and
its schedules along with its so-called services are a joke. It wants its
passengers "to keep BART clean," because they fired all the janitors,
and it does not provide bathrooms in the subterranean stations (Serving
320,000 people a day; because of terrorist bomb threats).
- There are no station agents for the stops in San Francisco,
more money-saving at the expense of the public. BART Police tend to think
of themselves more as storm-troopers rather than peace officers and are
also not visible in the stations or on the trains. This is primarily because
most of them are huge and cannot maneuver on the trains. If they were to
try and present "a presence" in the stations here, that might
cause violence rather than assisting to keep the peace, because they are
generally nasty and just spoiling for confrontations. The elevators and
the escalators are for the most part unreliable and during rush hours the
station platforms are over-filled to the point of bursting.
- In this environment to shut off cell phone service to
the public, is begging for disaster. What happens if there is one or more
medical emergency? There is no one in charge either at the stations or
on the trains, the only way to get help is to use the cell phone and when
BART cuts that off they are endangering lives to appease some paranoid
and illegal action to prevent the public from being fully involved in whatever
might be going on beyond the completely insular world of Fascist-BART.
- "All over the world, people are using mobile devices
to protest oppressive regimes, and governments are shutting down cell phone
towers and the Internet to stop them," said Michael Risher, a staff
attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
"It's outrageous that in San Francisco, BART is doing the same thing."
- BART officials acknowledged Friday afternoon that they
had switched off the transit system's underground cell phone network, which
runs from Balboa Park Station through the Transbay Tube, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Thursday to prevent protesters from coordinating plans to stop trains.
- A cluster of groups under the "No Justice, No BART"
banner said on websites that they planned to protest the fatal July 3 shooting
of a knife-wielding man, Charles Blair Hill, by BART police. Protesters
briefly shut down the Civic Center, Powell Street and 16th Street Mission
stations July 11. Trains ran through the stations without stopping.
- "Organizers planning to disrupt BART service stated
they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities
and communicate about the location and number of BART Police," the
transit agency said. "A civil disturbance during commute times at
busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding
and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators."
- "Contrary to some speculative reports, BART did
not jam wireless signals or ask cell phone providers to shut down towers
near stations. BART owns and controls the wireless network strung through
its subways, and BART police ordered it switched off, after receiving permission
from BART interim General Manager Sherwood Wakeman, former general counsel
for the transit district."
- k) BART did not have the permission of the general public
to shut down anything; and federal agency or not they do not have the right
to do this as it involves prior restraint among other crimes by both POLICE
and BART officials.
- Benson Fairow, BART's deputy police chief, said he decided
to switch off the service out of concern that protesters on station platforms
could clash with commuters, create panicked surges of passengers, and put
themselves or others in the way of speeding trains or the high-voltage
- "It was a recipe for disaster," he said. "The
fact that they started to conspire to commit illegal actions on the station
platform was our concern. I asked myself: If my wife, mother or daughter
was on that platform, would I want them to be in that situation?"
- Civil libertarians questioned the constitutionality of
BART's decision and predicted legal action, or at least serious investigation
by the Federal Communications Commission.
- "The most pertinent right in question is the right
to free expression," said Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney for
the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group. "BART
makes the point that a few years ago you couldn't even use your cell phone
in the stations, but that's beside the point. At this point, they have
made a policy of allowing it on the platform.
- "To withdraw that ability to express yourself ...
under a desire to prevent particular political speech between protesters
was a shocking disregard of the free speech rights of every BART passenger
and, indeed, was a prior restraint on any expressive activity they would
otherwise have engaged in."
- While BART owns and controls the wireless network in
its tunnels, it might not have the right to shut it off to halt a protest,
ACLU's Risher said.
- "Once BART opens a forum for expression, their authority
to close it down becomes a little more limited," he said. "As
far as I know, no governmental entity in this country has ever done anything
- k) Maybe since the Federal Government just spent $200
Million to equip 358 of San Francisco's city buses with full-body X-Ray
scanners and facial recognition scanning equipment: Perhaps they want BART
to become part of the new spying agenda for San Francisco, as part of some
national Petrie Dish to protect the public from the Terrorist's that are
supposedly going to strike San Francisco? This is obscene and a horrible
waste of money that could be put to far better uses' anywhere else!
- BART spokesman Jim Allison said this was the first time
the transit agency shut down the underground wireless system because of
public safety concerns.
- Fairow said that BART considered the free speech implications
posed by the cell phone shutdown but decided that those rights were outweighed
by the need to protect the public.
- "It's the constant juggle," he said. "The
courts have ruled that some inconvenience is OK (to protect free speech)
but the courts have also ruled that public safety takes priority."
BART allows free speech - from protesting to proselytizing - outside the
paid areas of stations. But it's not suitable inside the fare gates, and
especially on the train platforms, he said.
- But even some BART riders thought the tactic seemed very
- "We don't want the government turning off cell phones
in Syria, and we don't want them turning off cell phones here," said
Patricia Shean, 72, of San Francisco. "We deal with things differently
- k) We need to get the FEDS out of public transportation
in San Francisco, and take our city back from the privatized-thugs and
the real terrorists in Washington D.C., PROTESTING BART and all of its
practices might be a start for ending these continuing abuses of the public
that still needs decent public transportation!
- What's next? CHECKPOINTS on City Streets: Because if
that happens in combination with these two massive invasions of our public-private
lives then for me at least, that would be war!
- 1) BART admits halting cell-service to stop protests
- 2) DHS Funds Real Time Spy Cams on SF Buses http://www.infowars.com/dhs-funds-real-time-spy-cams-on-sf-buses/