Information about the upcoming Monday, August 29, 20011 protest at Civic Center BART station.
Video links that go with this post:
Video 1 of 3 – http://video.lisarein.com/OPBART-VIDEO/aug22-1of3.mov
Video 2 of 3 – http://video.lisarein.com/OPBART-VIDEO/aug22-2of3.mov
Video 3 of 3 – http://video.lisarein.com/OPBART-VIDEO/aug22-3of3.mov
After going to last week’s Monday, August 22, protest, and speaking with both law enforcement and BART employees over the course of the evening, it is my belief that BART is preemptively shutting down stations when there is a peaceful protest going on above ground, even though the protesters are not doing anything dangerous that would require a shut down for passenger safety.
People have protested outside Civic Center BART as long as it has existed. It has often been the starting point for many a protest/peace march.
The only difference now is that BART itself, or rather its police force, BART PD, is the subject of the protest – not just the meeting place.
These protests are about BART PD’s excessive police brutality. The cell phone service issue added fuel to the fire – but the police brutality was, and will continue to be, the main issue at hand.
These marches/sit ins are not violent. I can’t express enough how non-violent they are. It’s a bunch of people sitting around with their signs, looking frustrated, looking at each other, and kind of wondering what to do. There is no widespread plan of chaos that is unleashed on the station.
Outside Civic Center Bart At the Peaceful, Kinda Fragmented, OpBART Protest, August 22, 2011
(Video 1 of 3) I was filming in the area around the top of the BART station entrance for a while, and there really wasn’t much going on.
I had seen a few protesters enter the station on the north entrance, and I decided to wait for them, in good faith, by the south exit. I mean “In good faith” because I had a good faith believe that they were going to peacefully walk through the upper part (the “unpaid areas”) of the station – where people often walk through with signs or brochures to hand them out.
I was satisfied when the three protesters came up the south escalator. Right on time. They really were the ideal personification of the image that I like to present at a peace march – just quietly stating the obvious. One of them had a “I have to pee” sign, further protesting the fact that BART has closed a lot of the bathrooms in its stations over the last few years.
Next, right in the middle of nothing going on, we hear that the entrance we were at was being closed. I quickly moved down the escalator to ask the BART employee what exactly was happening, and why.
Me: “Excuse me sir. Why are you closing this entrance?
BART employee: “I have been told to.”
Me: “Is there some reason why you are closing this entrance?”
BART employee: “I have been ordered to close it, and that’s why I’m closing it. As far as the reason behind it is concerned – don’t know.”
Me: “Okay. Thank you very much.”
I move up closer to the grate, to get a shot inside the station. Nothing but disgruntled passengers coming up from the boarding platform, annoyed and confused about why the station was being closed, since there weren’t any protesters on the platform or anything else hindering service.
Then someone behind me says something about the whole station being closed, rather than this one entrance.
Then I hear him say to someone who asked about which stations were open “As of right now, I’m assuming Powell Street is closed also.”
Closed? No one had yet said that the whole station was closed.
Me: “Oh, I’m sorry.” I say to the employee, trying to get a quick clarification before he leaves. “Are you closing the whole station?”
BART employee: “Uh. I have been told to close this grill.”
We all ruminate for a minute, trying to figure out the last thing he said was “grille.” Which was not a confirmation of the whole station being closed. So I shout through the grille “is the station closed?” a few times. “Yes.” One of the employees inside finally shouts back.
Me: “Oh. Okay. Thank you.”
I continue to shoot through the bars, while other commuters, who were just about to enter the station, start asking about their options. “Are you closing 16th street?” On of them asks.
Meanwhile, commuters who were forced to leave the station, continue to exit up the stairs. They direct them to other exits than the closed grille that we were filming through.
There seems to be nobody but cops and disgruntled commuters inside the BART station, so I just continue to film. There’s a guy next to me with a still camera taking pictures through the grille, as I film through the grate.
Then I hear my friend say “Uh. Look behind you.”
That’s when a line of riot police come by and go through the door on the grille.
I continue to film them, asking “is everything ok?” as they walk by.
“Yup.” A policeman replies immediately, as the line walks by.
Two of the police men, when they see I’m filming, hold up peace signs. One held it high, the other proudly, but cautiously. Upon reviewing the video, it appears only the cop on the left was making a peace sign for me. The cop on the right was just motioning an order to the other cops with two fingers. The police man in between them clearly smiles at the camera.
A cop flashing a peace sign (see picture below for when the cop to the right of him smiles) - Before they all form a line and run us up the entrance stairs
After they’ve almost all passed us, one motions to the group and looks at us. Then another one does the same. They’ve decided to move in on us.
Cops: “Hey guys! You have to leave the station.” One of them shouts. And not in a super mean way, mind you. More like the way Mom tells you something for the fifteenth time, and you know you’re gonna get it from Dad, if you don’t listen soon.
“Hey, c’mon. We gotta get these guys outta here.” That same cop tells the others. They all turn and form a line on us.
Cop smiling - Before they all run us out of the entrance
“Everyone’s gotta leave.” He says. Then, to the man taking pictures. “Sir. You gotta start leaving now.” He gently turns the man with the camera around and pushes him a little.
Cop: “Let’s go. Everyone We gotta go.”
Cop: “Let’s go. We’ve asked you guys several times now.” (He’s pushing us up the escalator now. I keep filming, standing backwards.)
guy with camera: “Why am I being removed?”
No one answers him.
By this time, the crowd up top is booing, as we come up the escalator.
Then a few people start shouting, “pigs!” which is always so embarrassing for me when I’m at a protest. (Yelling “pigs” at cops at a protest is no better than if the cops started calling us “dirty hippies” in the middle of one. I don’t think it helps the situation or the cause or anyone or anything.) Sadly, I kept filming.
Then I filmed for a bit up top, just to make the point that it was still a peaceful, boring protest up top. As it had been from the beginning.
(Video 2 of 3) I spoke briefly to some Federal officers from Homeland Security that were stationed up top. They seemed very relaxed, and spoke to me freely when I asked what was going on. They were being very patient with someone who I decided was a little bit nuts after listening to him for a bit, but I waited my turn, and asked the officers if they knew anything. They didn’t.
Me: “I just wanted to ask you guys; Are you guys closing the station more as a precaution? Nothing happened right?”
Federal guy: “We’re not with BART PD. “
Me: “Oh you’re not with BART PD?”
Federal guy: “We’re Federal.”
Me: “Oh. So you guys are here just in case…but they told you they were gonna close the station, right?”
Federal guy: “Yeah. But they make that decision on their own.”
Me: “So you guys are here just in case, and you don’t even know what happened?”
Federal guy: “Yeah there are a lot of Federal Employees that come by here, as this is a Federal Building.”
Me: “Oh. Ok.”
Federal guy: “Yeah. We are just watching right now.”
Me: “Ok. Thank you very much.”
We walk for a bit down Market street, because we heard we might be re-aggregating at Powell. But when we got there, there was nothing but another closed BART station and angry tourists and commuters.
I went down to the entrance to ask the employee that was directing passengers up the escalator what had happened.
BART or MUNI Employee (to someone else ahead of me in line): “I don’t know if Muni’s open or not. I just know that BART’s closed. Montgomery and Embarcadero are still open. So, if you go up two blocks to Montgomery…two blocks up Market, yes?”
Me: “Do you know why they closed the station?”
BART or MUNI Employee: “They said the protesters are moving this way from Civic.”
Me: “Oh, okay.”
Next, we walked down to Montgomery station, just to confirm that it was open.
There were riot police in a line next to both sides of the turn styles. I approached the one closest to me as I came down the entrance.
Me: “I’m just coming to see if the station is open. It looks like the station is open.”
Cop: “The station is open.”
Me: “ and everything’s fine, right?”
Me: “Thank you very much.”
Cop: “Mmm hmmm.”
(Video 3 of 3) We walked further down market, just to get all the way to Embarcadero, when we saw a motorcade guarding a regular peace march that was making its way down market street.
A motorcade guarded the protesters as they marched peacefully, south, down Market Street, from the Embarcadero BART station, as it remained open
We filmed it for a bit, and then I confirmed with a police officer that the Embarcadero station was open.
Me: “Excuse me sir. The station’s open?”
Me: “Thank you very much.”
So we walk back to civic center. And I get some shots of all the news media vans there.
We see the crowd come back the other way down market street. My friend tweets for me, while I get a shot of the crowd returning.
Things had died down a lot at this point, and I felt I had got what I came for. So we left.
I’ll be putting time codes in this tonight – so it’s really easy for everyone to find whatever they want easily. Hi-resolution versions of any of these clips available upon request.
Please let me know about any bad links or typos: email@example.com
This license for this post only:
Video from August 22 OpBART Protest In San Francisco – Why I Believe BART Is Closing Down Stations Unnecessarily, and Blaming It On the Protests by Lisa Rein is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.