The busy evening commute out of downtown San Francisco gave way Monday to a chaotic cat-and-mouse game between police officers and roving protesters who lashed out at the transit agency for temporarily shutting down underground cellular phone service last week.
BART closed all four downtown San Francisco stations - Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery and Embarcadero - soon after the protest began at 5 p.m. Officers in riot gear blocked entrances as many train riders fumed on the sidewalks and tried to figure out how to get home. All stations were reopened by 7:30 p.m.
Muni Metro stations at the same locations were closed in tandem with the BART stations.BART's action last Thursday - which ignited an international debate about technology, free speech and public safety - was an effort to diffuse an antipolice demonstration. But it spurred an even larger protest Monday that was organized online by a loose-knit band of computer hackers known as Anonymous.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
San Francisco has unexpectedly become the center of a civil liberties beef after BART, the local transit agency, shut off cellphone service in some of its stations to disrupt protesters last Thursday. Over the weekend, the Wiki-leaks ally Anonymous hacked into BART's website, and today there were more protests seeking to disrupt the trains again.
Isn't it amazing, how a group of "international hackers" could so quickly learn about a local transit agency's prudent decision to turn off its wireless service for a couple hours? When people talk about the international left, this is what they mean.
Lost in all of this fooferall is the reason for the original protest that led to the cell-phone shut off. The protesters were down in the stations last Thursday because (they say) they were upset over the shooting of one Charles Blair Hill, a drunken bum - sorry, transient - who attacked BART police officers with a knife. Hill had no redeeming qualities that I can see, plus he was shot over a month ago, so it's hard to see what the big deal is. But, ever since the Oscar Grant shooting, the BART police have become the new fascist brown-shirts of fevered progressives' imaginations. Here is the picture of the classy guy for whom San Francisco commuters have had two evening commutes disrupted:
We are a long way away from Medger Evers, people.
Anonymous has also made a habit of adopting dubious causes. They were a big Wiki-leaks defender, attacking Amazon and Pay-pal after those companies refused to continue hosting Julian Asssssange's document dumps. They also played a role in the Jessi Slaughter v 4Chan battle of last year, which made no sense until someone explained that Jessi was an 11 year old girl, and 4Chan was - at least in part, a message board for pedophiles. They're one of those groups where you can comfortably find your position on an issue by taking the exact opposite one adopted by Anonymous.
Supposedly, these are all examples of the decentralized "leaderless" protest movements of the modern era. Come on. Someone decided that there needed to be a protest on BART last Thursday, and that the protest should focus on the flea-bitten Hill. Someone decided that it was Very Important to protest BART's shutting down its cellphone service. And, someone decided further protest was needed today, in case we didn't get the message that it's bad for the transit police to shoot deranged lunatics who are coming at them with a knife. It's hard to see how all of that develops spontaneously. In fact, it's not spontaneous at all. These people simply remain in the shadows, and then act with impunity because they know that it's highly unlikely that they will get into real trouble.