Edited at 9:58 AM to clarify information on last week’s arrests.
BART police took two protesters into custody and the dozens of demonstrators participating in what has become a weekly protest ritual briefly blocked traffic on Market Street, but no BART stations were closed, San Francisco police made no arrests, and Monday’s Anonymous-organized protest did not affect BART’s rush hour commute, according to authorities.
The protesters — one of whom appeared to be organizer Krystof Lopaur — were taken into custody at Embarcadero Station shortly after 6:30 p.m. following public addresses via megaphone at Powell and Montgomery street stations. The two protesters were arrested after they had crossed the fare gate to demonstrate in the paid fare area, according to BART.
“They went in and grabbed the instigators,” said protester Michael Edminster, 27, of San Francisco. “They grabbed everyone who was organizing things.”
Other than that one example, protesters largely heeded organizers’ calls to stay off of station platforms to avoid a repeat of last week’s fracas, in which over 40 people were arrested after protests on BART platforms. A crowd of perhaps 100 people assembled at UN Plaza near Civic Center station and moved up Market Street towards Powell Street at around 5:40 p.m., following Lopaur and other protesters with megaphones, with a column of SFPD officers in riot gear on either side of Market Street moving with them.
“We got tired of the BART police blaming us for closing the stations when really we gave them no reasons to do so,” said a woman wearing a black Guy Fawkes mask and black clothing emblazoned with red crosses who identified herself as an “AnonMedic,” who carried first aid supplies as well as a video camera with which to record proceedings. “So we decided not to give them a chance this time.”
Market Street near Sixth Street was blocked for about two minutes as a group of about two dozen protesters moved into the middle of the street, surrounded on three sides by the SFPD officers in riot gear. After a few minutes, they moved back onto the sidewalk and headed towards Powell.
The goal of San Francisco police was to make sure protesters “exercised First Amendment rights” safely and damaged no property, said Deputy Chief Kevin Cashman, addressing reporters at Civic Center at around 7:30 p.m., shortly after the protests had fizzled out. “And largely, they did that,” Cashman said.
No BART stations were closed Monday. And indeed, the system had more ridership than during last week’s protest — 304,000 people boarded the system Monday to 294,000 last week, according to a release from BART.
The demonstrators’ causes ran a gamut, from free speech and Internet censorship activists to anti-police and anti-state advocates to communist and other political organizations, according to interviews and signage present at the demonstration.
Not everyone was sympathetic to the demonstrators. “Go home,” two men smoking cigarettes outside the Sutter Station bar told the protesters. “Go home.”
That doesn’t appear likely, with Web attacks promised as well as more demonstrations next week. “There hasn’t been any concessions, so Anonymous — who is everyone, who is us — needs to figure out how to respond next,” Edminster said.
“We don’t have spokespeople and we don’t have organizers, so it’s impossible for me to say,” said the AnonMedic, “but I sure hope it goes on every week until BART does something… the shootings of Charles Hill and Oscar Grant were so unbelievably excessive — just messy, you know?”
“They [BART police] clearly don’t have their ducks in a row. Something needs to happen, and BART hasn’t done anything about it.”