There have been 2 days of protests inside the BART system. On Thursday Aug 11, protests got off to a slower than anticipated start when BART turned off the cell phones in all the downtown stations, making Flash-Mob style organizing impossible. Today, protesters roamed around downtown, causing BART to close all the stations from Civic Center to Embarcadero.
On Thursday, protesters tried to forcibly disrupt train service in protest to all the recent BART police killings. More about that later but I say that disruptive actions like this should certainly not be the first act of a civil disobedience group. It shows a lack of maturity, strength of character, and moral high ground.
Now let’s discuss all the recent BART police killings.
The No Justice No BART website has this on their homepage
DISBAND THE BART POLICE!
No Justice No BART is a campaign of protests targeting the BART system. We are fighting for justice for Charles Hill, Oscar Grant, Fred Collins, Bruce Seward, Jerrold Hall, Robert Greer, and all victims of BART police violence and murder. We demand that BART disband its murderous, inept, corrupt police department.
Who are all these victims? Let’s find out. Tell me how you feel about BART after reading their stories.
(much of the text below was lifted directly from the mentioned news outlets)
Charles Hill was shot and killed July 3. The BART survellence video shows the officer shooting and then a knife with a 4″ blade skittering across the floor at the officer. I would conjecture that Mr Hill was holding the knife high and the shock of being shot caused him to throw it down forcefully. I don’t know how close Mr Hill was to the officer but the video implies the officer did the right thing as a dangerous attacker approached the uniformed officer wielding a knife despite being told to drop it.
Oscar Grant was shot and killed Jan 1, 2009. BART officer Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two years, minus time served. He served his time in the Los Angeles County Jail, occupying a private cell away from other prisoners. He was released on June 13, 2011 and is now on parole. Video of the shooting shows Mehserle and the officers around him very surprised and distraught immediately after the shot; it didn’t look like Mehserle intended to shoot him, he likely thought he was reaching for his Taser. A horrible, tragic mistake.
Fred Collins was shot and killed on Saturday July 19th, 2010 by Oakland and BART police officers after charging against them with knives in each hand … The incident began when a 911 call alerted Oakland police to a man wielding a knife in the 3200 block of East 12th Street… Upon seeing the BART police officers approach him, one witness said, Collins began screaming “shoot me, shoot me, shoot me” and took off running, Thomason said… Oakland police Officer Jeff Thomason said Collins had been arrested in the past for prior incidents of assaults on officers, terrorist threats and resisting arrest.
Officer David Betancourt, a 22-year law enforcement veteran, shot a naked Bruce Seward outside the Hayward BART station before dawn on Memorial Day in 2001. Seward, 42, was asleep on a bench and appeared unconscious. After calling for an ambulance, Betancourt approached when Seward woke up, grabbed the officer’s nightstick and swung, smacking the patrol car, police said. Betancourt used pepper spray on Seward, but it had no effect, police said. Family members and mental health advocates decried the shooting, but a BART review cleared Betancourt of wrongdoing.
A tragic story of a boy who was possibly murdered by a BART police officer and the corrupt coverup where the officer got away… November 15th, 1992.
Robert Greer… I can’t find any information about him
And there is one more they left off the list, shot by SF Police while getting off the Muni:
Shot and killed by San Francisco police July 16th, 2011 after getting off a Muni train.
Convicted of trying to force a 14 year old into prostitution, wanted for questioning in connection with a recent murder in Seattle, he ran from police and shot at them when they questioned him for fare evasion. The police returned fire but he may have accidentally or intentionally killed himself. Officers were firing .40 caliber bullets but he was killed by a .380 bullet and they found a .380 caliber bullet in his jacket, the gun was stolen from the scene (because, hey, free gun!) so they don’t know. Read the article.
Correct me if I’m wrong but it looks like the score that No Justice No BART is trying to settle is:
* Drunk guy threatening officer with a knife gets shot in 2011
* Crazy guy with a knife attacking people gets shot in 2010
* Mistaken use of a gun by an officer, paid for with a year in jail in 2009
* Crazy guy swinging a club at officer is maced and shot in 2001
* A very suspicious, corrupt shooting by an officer in 1992
* Robert Greer ???
It doesn’t seem like a very high score.
Have you seen how violent San Francisco and Oakland are and what the police deal with? Take a look at Crimemapping. From March 1 til today, there were at least 75 reported murders in the Bay Area. Over the three day July 4th weekend there were some 200 assaults (I would try to measure a longer period but the mapping website can only put a maximum of 800 dots on a map). To be clear, I am not saying anything like “come on, give the police a break”, I am saying that we are living in a violent, dynamic world and we shouldn’t be surprised when we see violent, dangerous behavior met with strongly.
If you disagree with where I’m going with this, all I ask is that you counter my argument with facts. And if I have swayed you, tell a friend.
(I wrote most of this yesterday but updated enough that I want you to notice this is a new version, hence “Redux” in the title.)