When BART shutdown cell service last Thursday to prevent a rumored protest, the action prompted criticism from digital and civil rights groups, a hack of a BART-related website, scrutiny from the FCC and Mayor Ed Lee, and a demonstration Monday night that disrupted BART and Muni service at four San Francisco stations.

Since then, the tide of outrage seems to have crested, as civil rights orgs ACLU and EFF have decided against suing BART, a local TV station’s poll says Bay Area residents are supportive of BART’s decision to cut off cell service, and a Chron columnist takes free-speech advocates to task for failing to defend victims of the BART site hack.

Is this story all but over? Perhaps. But out of a sense of completionism (and because it is fun to look for contradictions — for example, one report has 200 participating in the protest, another says “a few dozen”), we sifted yet again through the coverage to bring you an overview of where the story is at this moment.

In the interest of conciseness, we’ve skipped a lot of the coverage that’s purely aggregation or reblogs, focusing on articles that bring reporting and analysis.

If you see anything that should be added, drop me a line or post it in the comments.

FCC, Others Continue To React To BART Cell Phone Shutdown

FCC, Mayor Lee, Train Operators Union All Scrutinizing BART [Appeal]

FCC: We’re monitoring BART’s cell service shutdown [KALW]
BART board president Bob “Franklin seemed unclear on exactly who had made the decision to shut down phone and wireless service, saying that it was either the police chief or the agency’s general manager.”

FCC reviewing SF subway cell shutdown [CNET]
After BART spokesperson Linton Johnson said the cell shutdown was done “to protect BART users’ ‘constitutional right to safety,'” CNET notes “There is, however, no right to safety in the U.S. Constitution, only a right to speak and assemble freely–which, some legal experts say, BART violated. The word ‘safety’ appears in the state constitution, but in a section that talks about individual rights, not police powers.”

Feds Probe BART’s Unprecedented Cell Phone Shutdown [BC]
“BART spokesman Linton Johnson said that the cell phone companies are like tenants and ‘part of their agreement was that during a safety sensitive or emergency situation we can turn off the service.'”

Phone Cutoff Stirs Worry About Limit on Speech [WSJ]
“‘It may be BART’s equipment, but that doesn’t mean that they have the freedom to do whatever they want to with it,’ said Michael Risher, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.”

Anonymous to BART: We Hack. We Organize, Too [NYT]
Says BART spokesperson Johnson “We are allowed to designate the time, place and manner of free speech.”

As criticism mounts, BART stays the course [Ex]
“‘It’s dangerous for activists to amass in a train boarding platform,'” said BART board member Tom Radulovich. ‘But to shut down cellphone service was a bit of an overreaction, and it has energized a whole new group of people to target BART.'”

Free-speech advocates silent on BART hacking [Chron]
both the American Civil Liberties Union and the EFF seem quite willing, by their silence on the matter so far, to tolerate the hacking of a BART website by an “anonymous” criminal organization and the “chilling strike” against 2,000 users of BART

Public Supports BART On Cellphone Shutdown Decision [CBS5]
“The poll of Bay Area residents found 58 percent thought BART did the right thing, 62 percent did not believe anyone’s rights were violated and 52 percent said no one was put in danger by the decision to briefly shut off access to cellphone signals and WiFi service in several underground San Francisco train stations.”

ACLU will not sue BART over cellphone blocking [AP via Ex]
“The Electronic Frontier Foundation, too, said it was unlikely to file a lawsuit over the disabling of wireless reception for three hours.”

Protest Monday Night Closes Four Stations, But Cell Service Stays On

#MuBARTek #OPBart Protest Briefly Disrupts BART, Muni Service (Slideshow, Video) [Appeal]

BART Protest Peaceful, Temporarily Disrupts Service [Appeal]

“Live” coverage of the protest: [ML@L] [Ex] [Weekly]

Operation BART protest [bluoz]

SF subway closes stations during peaceful protest [CNET]
“‘I’m not part of any group,’ said a college student who wanted to be identified only by last name of ‘Capurro.’ ‘I’m just disgusted by the violence we’ve seen from the BART police.'”

Waves of protest pound at BART, shutting down stations [SFBG]
“One protestor stood silently with a shirt that read, ‘Dear BART, you can’t take away our ability to call 911 while also making it a habit to shoot your riders.'”

Photos from OpBART protests, August 16 [IndyBay] [IndyBay] [IndyBay]

Photos from Monday’s Anonymous BART Protest [SFist]

BART Protest Shuts Down 4 Stations During Rush Hour [BC]
“Below the street, a well-organized group of as many as 200 protestors evaded police, forcing BART to close down four stations in downtown San Francisco in the midst of rush hour for about two hours.”

150 Protesters Create Havoc for BART Commuters [ML@L]
“At the end of the day, the main lesson from the protest seemed to be that it takes relatively few protesters to undo BART.”

Closures of San Francisco BART stations stymie protest [Ex]
“Two protesters stood in the doorway of an East Bay-bound train for about a minute. As police were heading to remove them, a BART rider shoved the two people out of the doorway and the train shut its doors and departed.”

Cell service stays on during BART protest in SF [Chron]
At a brief news conference after service was fully restored, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said, “Tonight our customers are angry and frustrated.”

Cellphone Service Stays On During San Francisco Subway Protest [Wired]
“a demonstration at a San Francisco subway station drew what appeared to be less than a few dozen protesters Monday.”

Scenes from #opBART [SFBG]

BART Protest Snarls Evening Commute (Slideshow) [Weekly]
If you have the patience to file through this one-per-page slideshow, you are a better person than me. That’s not a quote from the coverage

The Best of BART Rally Fashion [Weekly]
Way better!

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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