Anonymous-led protest against BART becomes violent

United States, San Francisco : Bay Area Rapid Transit police arrest a demonstrator during a protest on the platform at the Civic Center station on August 22, 2011. (AFP Photo / Justin Sullivan)
Activists with Anonymous got real angry at San Francisco authority this week, causing Monday night’s protest against the city’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police to turn violent and leaving dozens of demonstrations behind bars.

Around 100 activists began this week’s demonstration at the Civic Center BART station at around 5 p.m. San Francisco time on Monday, rallying into the city for hours after. It was on a platform at the Civic Center station that Charles Hill was shot and killed by a BART police officer on July 3 after authorities say the man attacked him with a knife. Hill’s killing came barely a year after BART cops shot and killed Oscar Grant, an unarmed man who laid face down, at another San Fran station.

After gathering at the Civic Center station on Monday, demonstrators dispersed throughout the city, eventually abandoning peaceful protests in exchange for violence. Though two people were arrested early on in the demonstration for disobeying dispersal orders, at least 35 others were arrested throughout the evening, Officer Albie Esparza tells Bay City News.

The San Francisco Examiner adds that demonstrations escalated in intensity by dusk as protestors began lighting stink bombs and launching them at police. Other participants shattered glass at city bus stops and hurled garbage cans, reports suggest. Esparza confirmed that dozens were arrested for failing to disperse upon command of a traffic officer and pedestrian in the roadway, though violent escalations between protestors and would be BART-riders were also reported, and police also recovered a hammer from one participant.

Around three-and-a-half hours after the demonstrations first began, police had arrested upwards of 40 individuals and had to close and reopen two BART stations a handful of times, disrupting city transit service.

Not interrupted this week, however, was cell phone service. Fears of a mob amassing through cellular contact and social networking prompted officials to suspend cell service at BART stations during last week’s protest, which has only opened a new can of worms in the unrest aggregated towards BART authority.

Recent rallies against BART have been organized in part by the hacktivist group Anonymous. A data dump last week revealed the private information of hundreds of BART officials, though Anonymous has since denied involvement in the hack.