BART allows cellphone service amid new protests
This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.
A modest group of protesters converged on a Bay Area Rapid Transit District station in San Francisco to criticize the fatal shooting of a man by police as well as BART's decision to shut off cellphone service last week during an earlier demonstration.
BART workers in bright vests worked to keep passageways clear, and riders were getting on and off trains unobstructed as the protest began.
Cell, email, text and Internet service was fully functional in BART trains and downtown stations as the evening commute began Monday, though there was a heavy police presence.
One 19-year-old man who would give only his last name, Capurro, wore a white T-shirt spray-painted with red splotches. His sign said "Stop Police Brutality" on one side and "Protect Free Speech" on the other, and he turned it depending on his audience.
"It’s frightening whenever the government tries to cut communication, particularly nonviolent communication," said the man, who said he goes to college in Southern California and is working a landscaping job in Pleasanton for the summer. "I am here to say I want to protect free speech and I am disgusted with the violence of the BART police force."
“It’s no longer a BART issue, it’s a nationwide issue and the public has to weigh in on it,” said Bob Franklin, who confirmed that BART has contacted the Federal Communications Commission to explain its rationale. “That’s the difference between our country and other countries. We will have a public dialogue on this and talk about an appropriate use, if it is appropriate.”
The protest came a day after a hackers group attacked BART's website.
On Monday morning, BART was attempting to contact more than 2,400 customers to inform them that their personal information had been obtained and published by a group of hackers.
The security breach was perpetrated by the hacker-activist group Anonymous, which launched cyber-attacks Sunday against BART and the Fullerton Police Department in retaliation for deadly confrontations between police and homeless men.
The cyber-attack against the Fullerton police did not appear to be successful, but officials at the San Francisco-area mass transit authority were forced to shut down MyBART.org, a marketing website designed to encourage riders to use the system for travel to leisure events.
The hacker group posted the names, home and email addresses, and phone numbers of thousands of Bay Area residents, but a BART spokesman said the website held no sensitive financial information.
For the record, 7:44 p.m. Aug. 15: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to Bob Franklin as Bob Jackson.
-- Maria La Ganga in San Francisco
Photo: Scene at Civic Center station. Credit: Maria L. La Ganga /Los Angeles Times