San Francisco Free Speech? Not So Much

Lisa Derrick has some photos and a couple of short videos from the BART protest, which began in response to BART police killing a homeless man. The photos and videos, images of helmeted, armor-wearing officers wielding batons and arresting protesters for what appears to be nothing but loud speech, does not bode well. If this is how city authorities, or in this case BART authorities, intend to suppress citizens’ “petition for a redress of grievances,” we are probably in for some violent times.

UPDATE: this NYT article makes it clear that the troubles with BART police are not new, nor are they being addressed as was legally mandated after their last killing. (There have been six killings since 1972, two in the past two years.)

UPDATE: Kevin Gosztola has details. Here are a couple of them:

SF Weekly reports suggest there were not many protesting but there were plenty of reporters and camera crews seeking to cover the protest. Also—get this—protesters were told not to chant by police or they would be arrested.

This reaction at the protest likely stems from a rule that BART has decided to institute:

No person shall conduct or participate in assemblies or demonstrations or engage in other expressive activities in the paid areas of BART stations, including BART cars and trains and BART station platforms.

(Bolds editorial.) So it appears BART has instituted a policy of suppressing free speech, and intends to enforce it. In this day and age, they’ll probably get away with it.

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Comments

  • MandT  On Tuesday August 23, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    The BART police are a paramilitary unit that operate with very little accountability…..same might be said for the Oakland police force in general. General rule: they kill first and get exonerated later. I’d rather hide in the bushes than ask one for help. CA has its own Blackwater in great measure thanks to Jerry Brown.

    • Steve  On Wednesday August 24, 2011 at 10:53 am

      MandT, I’ll take your word for it. I’ve been in SF twice in my life, each time for about a week, and found BART to be a perfectly satisfactory mass transit system for a tourist. But I had no encounters with the BART police; that probably would have changed my opinion of the experience!

      Jerry Brown has certainly changed since his younger days, hasn’t he?

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