4:06 PM (Bay City News): BART will “staff accordingly” at the Civic Center station with the possibility of a protest this afternoon, BART authorities said.
BART put a warning on its website for passengers to be “advised that protesters may attempt to disrupt train service during August commute periods beginning as early as Thursday, August 11, 2011, in downtown San Francisco BART stations.”
Protesters disrupted rush hour commuting on July 11 in response to the killing of Charles Hill by BART police a week earlier. BART police arrested a number of protesters and temporarily closed San Francisco’s Civic Center BART station, among others.
BART is most concerned about the safety of the protesters and commuters.
“(Something) as simple as a blow horn and interrupting announcements creates unsafe conditions,” BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. “An illegal protest on narrow platforms with fast trains and (electricity); it can make for a deadly combination.”
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency also announced it shut down regular cable car service on the Powell Street portion of the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines at 3:30 p.m. as a precaution of possible disruptions from a protest.
Muni shuttles will be available in their place.
San Francisco police will also have officers on stand-by.
Johnson encourages BART passengers to have their eyes and ears open as they commute over the next month.
“Report unsafe behavior, do not confront protestors,” Johnson said. “Stay out of harm’s way.”
BART encourages anyone who sees unsafe behavior to contact (510) 464-7000 or locate an intercom.
2:20 PM: The Chron spoke with BART’s deputy police chief, who said “We do anticipate a group of people are going to try to disrupt service (tonight), and we’re going to try to do our best to prevent that.”
The paper also acknowledges the since-removed blog post from No Justice, No BART, noting that protesters say they will “try to mobilize without public announcement beforehand. This will allow us the element of surprise, and BART will not be able to call in their police force to harass our event.”
Officials, the Chron points out, say that “disrupting transit service is illegal.”
Meanwhile Alert SF, our text messaging notification system, says “Be advised of a potential BART demonstration at the Civic center Station between 4:30-7:30 pm.” So they’re taking the deleted blog post somewhat seriously, too.
1 PM: SFist has sleuthed out more details of the possible protest — according to a deleted (but still cached) post on the site of activist group No Justice, No BART, protesters are being encouraged to assemble “Thursday, August 11, from 4:30-8pm. Starting inside the Civic Center BART station, on the platform.”
According to the cached post, protesters are urged not to “have any signs or banners visible as you enter the station or wait on the platform, as we wish to remain inconspicuous until the action begins at 5 pm. We will congregate at the center of the platform (next to the elevator). One of our organizers will have a ‘Justice for Oscar Grant’ patch on his backpack. If you approach him, he will give you a flyer that has information about the action, and watch for his cue to begin the action at 5 pm *sharp*.”
Does this mean a protest is certain, or is this a bluff by activists? Your guess is good as ours — but we suggest you figure out another way home, just in case.
9:20 AM: Taking BART anytime soon? Potentially prepare for some vague delays. Though BART tends to be decently reliable and very vocal about any delays that may occur on a day-to-day basis, the short and sweet notice posted last night that protests might disrupt service “as early as Thurs., Aug. 11” comes as a strange surprise.
One could speculate that BART’s reasoning for keeping things quiet on the unspecified civil action might have to do with the last protest it faced one month today. As previously reported, July 11th protesters took to the Civic Center BART station in an attempt to shut down service and bring awareness on the fatal shooting of Charles Hill, 45.
BART officers responded to a report that Hill appeared intoxicated and had an open container of alcohol with him. The also swift confrontation ended with Hill’s fatal shooting amid allegations that he was wielding a knife and broken bottle at the time.
Publications including KCBS and SF Weekly are assuming that today’s vague threat of protests is related to those from last month, and they’re probably right — according to ABC7, “A group called “No Justice – No BART” had previously hinted about an action sometime in early August.”
But even BART’s media line says nothing of the proposed protest today, instead playing a message recorded late Monday night about an operations control center computer outage that was righted that night. The outage, which is still being investigated, started at around 7:32pm on Monday and saw normal service resumed within three hours’ time.
In any case, BART warns that today (or in the undetermined future) they “may need to close some stations temporarily or make other service adjustments on short notice….We encourage you to take the time now to plan your alternative transportation options.”