Apparently, even protesters take the holidays off.
Labor Day appeared to thwart online hacker group Anonymous’ efforts to hold a fourth consecutive Monday protest of BART. However, community groups took the opportunity to promote a larger demonstration planned for Thursday.
Representatives from No Justice, No BART; the Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant; and Feminists Against Police Brutality emphasized their demands for the transit agency, which include disbanding its police force.
“There’s an epidemic of police brutality in our communities,” said Cat Brooks, an organizer for the coalition.
The activist groups say they are specifically protesting the fatal shootings of Oscar Grant III on New Year’s Day 2009 at Oakland’s Fruitvale station and Charles Hill on July 3 at the Civic Center Station. Anonymous has taken issue with BART’s decision to shut down cellphone service during a planned protest in July.
Krystof Cantor of No Justice, No BART stopped short of saying the community groups were not associated with Anonymous, but said the hacker group got involved in bigger issues than it expected.
“Anonymous stepped into something that’s been going on for a long time,” Cantor said. “They stepped in because of cellphone service, but they soon realized that squashing the First Amendment rights is the least of BART’s offenses.”
Anonymous has not reached out to No Justice, No BART to organize demonstrations, according to Cantor.
For Thursday’s protest, the community groups are asking participants to meet at the Powell Street station.
For Monday’s planned demonstration, though, the holiday seemed to have an effect. Nearly a dozen protesters gathered silently in U.N. Plaza for roughly 30 minutes before many left. Media and San Francisco police officers outnumbered the demonstrators.