Protesters storm BART, slow commute out of San Francisco 

A group of protesters seeking to paralyze BART achieved their goal Monday by holding open train doors, climbing atop a rail car and ultimately forcing police to shut down three stations during the height of the evening commute.

Click on the photo at right to see a slideshow of photos from the protest.

Roughly 75 demonstrators gathered at the Civic Center station around 4:30 p.m. to protest the July 3 police-involved shooting death of Charles Hill and the 2009 fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III.

The demonstration quickly turned aggressive as protesters succeeded in preventing trains from leaving the station. BART police then forced them out of the trains and pulled one man off the top of a car. Transit officials subsequently closed the station to BART and Muni trains.

In response, demonstrators went aboveground and walked to the Powell Street station carrying signs and chanting phrases such as, “We are all Charles Hill. We are all Oscar Grant.”

Demonstration organizer Hannibal Shakur, 25, promised more such protests as anger builds.

“We want the BART administration to disband the police,” Shakur said. “And we wanted to demonstrate our power to cripple the system.”

At the Powell Street station, demonstrators stormed the platform around 5:30 p.m. as hundreds of commuters waited for trains.

Chanting “Oink, oink, bang, bang, every day the same old thing” and “No justice, no peace,” protesters boarded a train to the 16th Street station in the Mission district. That station was then shut down, forcing the crowd to walk back downtown along Mission Street.

Along a 2-mile route, demonstrators shadowed by dozens of San Francisco police officers took over two lanes of traffic, tipped over garbage cans and vandalized buildings with graffiti.

Protesters reassembled at Muni’s Powell Street cable car turnaround, where dozens of officers outfitted in riot gear held their ground until the demonstrators slowly dispersed.

Sgt. Michael Andraychak of the San Francisco Police Department said his agency arrested one person on suspicion of public drunkenness. BART spokesman Linton Johnson said BART police made no arrests. But Johnson  did say the demonstrators had accomplished their goal.

“BART police were forced to shut down stations in order to keep customers safe,” he said. “But protesters made it difficult for our customers to get home from their jobs, which they depend on.”

Around 9:45 p.m. July 3, two BART officers responded to the Civic Center station following a report of a “wobbly and drunk” person on the platform. Moments later, an officer shot Hill, who died at San Francisco General Hospital. The shooting was the sixth in BART’s 40-year history that led to injury or death.

The protest marked the third time since 2009 that a demonstration has turned ugly.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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