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Group Organizing BART Protests Vows To Continue Fight

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Members of the loosely organized hacking group "Anonymous" said they would continue protests at Bay Area Rapid Transit stations in San Francisco, after disrupting the evening commute for the second straight week on Monday.

BART Police Commander Daniel Hartwig said they will continue to deploy extra officers as long as the protests are held.

"We have more officers on duty tonight," Hartwig said following Monday's protest. "We are supported by a larger number of San Francisco officers as well as San Francisco sheriffs."

San Francisco Police said about 40 people were arrested during Monday evening's BART protest, which shut down both the Civic Center and Powell Street stations off and on for well over an hour throughout the roving demonstration.

The shutdowns delayed thousands of evening BART riders with many passengers expressing increasing frustration over the delays as they tried to get home.

KCBS' Tim Ryan Reports:

Protesters gathered on the Civic Center BART platform at 5 p.m.  The protesters chose the platform to gather because Charles Hill was killed there by a BART police officer on July 3, after Hill allegedly attacked the officer with a knife. The shooting set off a string of protests that have shut down San Francisco BART stations three times since then.

San Francisco Police officer Albie Esparza said dispersal orders were given several times throughout the protest which started at the Civic Center and made its way east on Market Street and back toward the Civic Center throughout the evening.

Two people were arrested shortly after the protest began after disobeying dispersal orders, Esparza said.

At Fourth and Market streets one person was arrested on suspicion of igniting a flammable substance and when demonstrators marched to the first block of Grove Street, at least 35 others were arrested, Esparza said.

All protesters were arrested on suspicion of failing to disperse, Esparza said.

Police also recovered a hammer from the demonstration.

Police said their goal is to accommodate demonstrators and allow them their constitutional right to protest while protecting lives.

BART Board President Bob Franklin said that after three protests, the agency is no longer tolerating the demonstrations on BART platforms.

KCBS' Holly Quan Reports:

"When a protest is happening on a BART platform, it's clear the station closes. But unlike a week ago, the station reopened quickly," Franklin said. "It closed and opened a couple more times but it wasn't closed for a long block of time. And it was just two stations. The last protest, it was four stations that were closed. So we're moving in the right direction."

Previous BART shut downs stemmed from the July officer-involved shooting. On Aug. 11, BART said it had intelligence that a disruptive protest was being planned and shut down cellphone service in several stations to prevent protesters from communicating in stations and tunnels.

That protest failed to materialize, leading BART spokesman Linton Johnson to declare the precaution was successful in disrupting the protest.

But blocking cellphone service angered the hacker protest group "Anonymous," who has been behind many of the protests. The group called on their loose collective of members to hack BART websites, flood BART offices with emails, faxes and phone calls, and called for another protest on Aug. 15.

Anonymous has established the hashtag #opBART on Twitter, on which the group called for a third protest Monday, Aug. 29 at the same time and location as Monday's protest. Organizers told KCBS that the protests will continue until "we get what we want."

Exactly what they want is still uncertain at this time.

BART's Board of Directors was scheduled to meet Wednesday morning to consider adopting a policy when, if ever, it may switch off its wireless network. 

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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