S.F. subway system admits cutting cellphone service to stop planned protest
Demonstrators shut down a BART station in July to protest the shooting death of 45-year-old Charles Hill.
August 13th, 2011
07:36 PM ET

S.F. subway system admits cutting cellphone service to stop planned protest

In a controversial move that has riled up free speech advocates, San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system said it cut off cellphone signals at “select” stations in response to a planned protest this week.

“BART temporarily interrupted service at select BART stations as one of many tactics to ensure the safety of everyone on the platform,” the transit agency said in a statement on its website Friday.

BART said it took the actions because protesters said they “would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police.”

Demonstrators had planned a rally to bring attention to a number of transit police officer shootings, the latest one resulting in the death of 45-year-old Charles Hill, who was shot last month after a confrontation with officers.

The transit agency said protests during rush hour endangered the safety of commuters and employees.

“A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators,” the agency said.

The incident happened Thursday, the same day that British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed a crackdown on social media to quell riots.

"Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media," Cameron said Thursday during an address to Parliament. "Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them."

Protesters in San Francisco have used websites and social media to organize demonstrations, including a rally last month that shut down a subway stop.

On Saturday, a BART director said the cellphone shutdown was not authorized by higher-ups and was under investigation, according to the Bay Citizen newspaper. “This is a transit agency, and our job is not to censor people,” BART official Lynette Sweet was quoted as saying.

The ACLU also denounced the cellphone shutdown, likening it to strong-arm tactics used by other governments.

“Shutting down access to mobile phones is the wrong response to political protests, whether it’s halfway around the world or right here at home,” the ACLU of Northern California said on its website.

The petition site, Care2.com, started an online petition titled “BART: Stay Out of Our Cell Phone Service!” On Saturday evening the site had more than doubled its signature goal of 1,000.

Also the hacktivist group Anonymous said it would be targeting BART on Monday to retaliate, several news sites reported Saturday.

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • San Francisco • U.S.
soundoff (486 Responses)
  1. Silver Wraith

    "...take you at your word," not "at your work."

    August 14, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. King of the Sodomites

    I've been with well over one thousand men from the Bay area over the last 30 years. I'm not bragging. Magic Johnson claims to have had over 3,000 different partners, so he's the real king. But it's sort of strange the way people see gay couples, getting married with flowers and honeymoons, as the norm. If not for your tolerance, how could I possibly get away with being in bed with your own sons and daughters? Most of us are bi btw. You didn't know this? We sleep around just like you do. So don't get all huffy about it.

    August 14, 2011 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. King of the Sodomites

    Have I been tested for aids? Have you? Neither have I then. It's not like there is someone following every every encounter and keeping score. There's no telling how many people have aids. I'm just like most you in that I enjoy being in bed with hotties. I really really do. Thanks for you tolerances.

    August 14, 2011 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Silver Wraith

    @ King of the Sodomites:
    You made some interesting points, but I don't understand the relevance of s-
    ex to cell phones.
    Did this service interruption interfere with your cruising?
    I'm sure that your inconvenience is regretted.

    August 14, 2011 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. King of the Sodomites

    You straights are no better than me, so stop looking down on people like me. You cheat on your wives as much or more than I cheat on my partner. So give it a rest. Self righteous basterds. And stop blaming aids on us. You got it too now.

    August 14, 2011 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. King of the Sodomites

    And screw you for trying to make us your new token to replace black people. It makes me sick when my rich friends invite me to a party just so they can show how politically correct they are. I make it a point to try and get their sons drunk and into bed, and I have on several occassions, just like straight men do with your daughters. Am I different? No, we are the same, only backwards.

    August 14, 2011 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. Silver Wraith

    @ King...:
    "There's no telling how many people have aids (sic)?"
    In my experience, any person who has AIDS finds out about it fairly soon after its onset.
    Don't worry so much: it takes care of itself.

    August 14, 2011 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. King of the Sodomites

    1,200 men and boys under my belt. Boys? Did you really think that sodomites like me are any better than priests? Get real. Many straights have relations with 17 yr. old girls, so what's the matter with a few boys? Oh, I get it. You tolerate my kind as long as it isn't your boy. Well it is your boy. And thanks to your tolerance, I will have more.

    August 14, 2011 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. King of the Sodomites

    @silver wraith. Really? So everyone who has aids is fully aware, even those like me who have never been tested? So, without the test, how does one know if they have aids or not? I haven't been tested. Have you? The vast majority don't even check for cavities, let alone aids. How many books about aids have you read? Oh yeah? Name one. Gotcha.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Silver Wraith

    King, I always go over our guest list: the MOST important part of a party is putting together a good group.
    I know your mind now.
    We do invite gay men and lesbians to our parties, in couples, and singly. They're fun, that's why–not because it's PC. Neither of us is PC at all.
    Don't worry about your having to serve as a token at one of our parties.
    As for your sedu-
    cing either of my straight sons, I doubt that it'll happen: they don't drink that much.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. Silver Wraith

    King otS,
    You reading comprehension is better than you pretend: you know that I didn't say that.
    You know from our other masked incarnations that I won't be manipulated by your questioning.
    BTW, I extend my fond greetings on this early morning.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. Silver Wraith

    Let us see now...
    Chi sara'?
    Who writes, as if obsessed, about his perception of the immorality and waste of war, both human and material?
    Who writes frequently about HIV and AIDS in relationship to gays?
    This Coors is for you, buddy. Oh, does that have a possessive apostrophe? I dunno–I don't drink very often, and certainly not beer.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. Slash

    If this happened in Saudi Arabia or Iran, most Americans would be denouncing it as acts of tyranny.

    Push is going to come to shove sooner or later if these idiots don't learn their place. We don't work for them, they work for US.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Silver Wraith

    Hi, Brizzle.
    I'm not sure that I can agree with your premise that wicked actions exist.
    Actions exist: we agree on that.
    Not all actions can be blamed on man–no matter what Al Gore says.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
  15. King of the Sodomites

    Well, you don't speak for the rest of America. We like to get drunk and screw. You might not, but we do. Hats off to you if your children never get drunk or do drugs or have intercourse while doing so. But keep in mind, you are in the minority. I can almost always count on bedding down a young man when I get invited as a token. And ya know what? Most parents don't even mind. That's how tolerant they are now. I for the life of me cannot understand why they would invite a man like me to a party with young men running around with all that temptation, unless they don't mind if I end up in bed with one of their own sons or two of thei daughters. We cheat on each other just like most do. Our divorce rate will catch yours once enough of us get married.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:39 am | Report abuse |
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