Staying on message can be a tough task for a protest movement with no central authority, especially one that may be losing public support.
A website claiming to speak for some members of the loosely organized hacker group Anonymous released a statement in advance of today’s scheduled protest of BART asking protesters to focus not on station closures but police brutality.
Recent media accounts have depicted BART passengers as increasingly annoyed with the protesters disrupting their commutes. Consequently, some in the protest movement have suggested carrying signs asking police not to close the stations.
The alternative Anonymous plan? Gather at 5 p.m. outside the Civic Center Station entrance, so BART police “would have no justification for shutting down the station, and would be unable to reasonably blame us.”
A statement posted online Saturday at OpBARTSF.tumblr.com criticized the group’s prior focus on station closures. “This is incorrect and counterproductive, and further illustrates the main problem with OpBART: It is replete in revolutionary fervor, but severely lacking in focused ideology.”
The message urged protesters to focus on “the continuing brutality and unaccountability of the Bay Area transit police.”
Protesters — including but not limited to self-proclaimed members of Anonymous — have gathered at Civic Center Station on recent Mondays to protest the July 3 shooting of a homeless man by BART police. Police have said 45-year-old Charles Hill appeared drunk and attacked officers with a bottle and a knife.
The subsequent decision by BART officials to counter protesters by shutting down cellphone service in its downtown stations was a valid issue to protest but secondary, the statement said — although it was actually that decision that attracted the group’s attention in the first place.
BART warned Sunday that protesters “may attempt to disrupt BART service” during today’s afternoon commute, and advised that it may need to close some stations temporarily and make other service adjustments.