San Francisco, Communication, Protest

August 19, 2011 § 22 Comments

The story about the BART incident from Amy Goodman, followed by interviews with Davey D, Catherine Crump, and “Anonymous”.

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§ 22 Responses to San Francisco, Communication, Protest

  • Alex Mandel says:

    First of all I think it was wrong for the SFPD to kill the homeless man in the BART station. To learn they have a track record of doing so did not help the case against them. However the real argument here is whether or not it was okay for the BART authorities to shut down. Anonymous premise’s are that the internet is used to communicate and assembly, the constitution guarentees our right to assembly and by shutting down the internet the government is violating a constitutional right. Despite the fallacies and rhetoric surrounding arguments on both sides, I agree this. Turning off cell phone service on public property to help control the protesters is unconstitutional. The argument that it was in the name of public safety doesn’t make sense because protests have gotten out of control way before the use of the internet and will not become out of control because it is banned. On the other side anonymous posed ad hominem, circumstantial and abusive fallacies when framing the argument in a way that attacked the BART officials, police, and set up the premises so that it couldn’t be argued any other way. I think this weakened his argument. He also used an appeal to pity when describing the situation.

  • lauracava says:

    I would have to side with the “Anonymous” group that hacked into the Bart’s systems. They were retaliating and showing that they have weaknesses as well. Attacking the people by taking away the cell phone networks and making them believe that it was for their safety was wrong. That is an act of the government being unfair and overbearing. The government is there to protect the rights of the people and enforce the law. It is unsettling to hear when there are law enforcements acting in an abrubt manner. For a government to take away what is rightfully owned by the people and decide what is good for them is when they start to question their incentives. What are they really trying to accomplish by taking away peoples privileges? We trust the government that they know what they’re doing and that their doing what’s right for the citizens of that country. There have been so many protests in the past years because people are beginning to see that governments are doing what’s good for them, not for the people. It is disheartening to find out that the government isn’t always the good guy. I believe the government does what it has to and says what it has to to keep itself running. Although they may seem wrong at times, without one there is a large opportunity for chaos among the people. There may be times where it is necessary for people to try and overthrow a corrupt government, but a protest through the internet is much more efficient. Getting a point across without violence shows a side of sensibility and maturity in the people. There is a better chance at persuading the government that they are being unfair and need to make a change.

  • Kathy Wu says:

    I don’t quite understand what the protesters are trying to achieve with these protests. Are they trying to raise awareness or do they want BART to release the footage of the shooting?

    It’s incredible how large these protests have become. A few years ago, we could only watch from the sidelines. Nowadays, we could actively participate no matter where we are, if we wanted. The censorship issue in Egypt has been top news for the past few months and I never thought that we’d face the same problem here in America. With all the ways to communicate, it would be impossible to completely censor people and I’m shocked that BART would even try. Large amounts of people in confined spaces are dangerous, as we’ve seen in the past with people getting trampled and etc., but the decision to turn off cell phone towers violated the constitutional right to assembly and free speech. If they were really concerned about public safety, they could have shut down the stations like they did before. When I first heard about this, I thought they were acting strongly due to the riots in London. It also seems that the protesters are reacting strongly because of fear of becoming like Egypt.

  • prj32 says:

    I definitely think that BART police’s actions are well deserving of all the criticism they’ve ignited. According to the article and the interviews, the officer was forced to kill the homeless man because he had a knife and a vodka bottle, which threatened the officer’s safety. I think it’s a little absurd to hear this from a police officer given the fact that they have probably been involved in more dangerous scenarios in which they were able to tackle the situation without having to make use of their weapons. Thus, I do not think that shooting the homeless (and to some extent harmless man) was a little too extreme.

    In regards to the shutting down of cellphone services, I completely agree with “Anonymous” and the rest of the protestants. By shutting down the cellular services, BART police is clearly violating our right to communicate and assembly as it is stated in the Constitution. Moreover, I think that this measure simply allows people to have more to talk about the actions being taken by the BART. As one of the interview participants mentioned, it would have been much simpler if the BART had agreed to post the videos for people to see what had actually happened. If they were talking the truth and the video showed why the policer officer was forced to kill the homeless man, why not make it accessible to the public? Wouldn’t that be easier and put an end to all the criticism and speculations? I think the bigger issue here is not what is being done, but rather how it is being done. After all, police officers and government officials are there to ensure public safety, but then again are trying to do so by killing homeless people and violating our rights?

  • jeromiharris says:

    This to me is just another example of how we have given our government too much power. Additionally, the fact that BART has a track record of in my opinion “abusing” their power goes to show that the San Francisco government needs to reevaluate this program. I also want to say, I agree with Davey D, that the officers will construe a story to make their actions look justified. This story actually reminds me of a story that happened in New York with Sean Bell. When the New York Police Department hailed 50 bullets at an unarmed man in an apartment building because they believe he was a threat, yet they had no proof and the officers who shot him were found not guilty. Also, I agreed about how suddenly BART chooses to shut down cell service after this controversial event, and not doing it when Davey D gave specific examples such as Raider fights after a football game.

    I feel shutting down cell services can be a good idea if it is not to prevent protest, only if they have emergency phones somewhere in the stations. I say this because if too many signals go into a cell tower signals cannot be go out. Thus, if a dangerous situation happens victims need to have access to some form of communication to get help. Or have emergency stands similar to those found on college campuses. Now on the other hand, if BART did shut down cell services to prevent protesting is in my opinion is unconstitutional and if BART has not place some kind of emergency help then, BART is putting the general public at risk.

  • smb366 says:

    This is a prime example how the government is often given too much power. The fact that the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) was able to shut off cell phone service in the subways boggles my mind. I understand that they wanted to prevent a protest, but did they really think that these protesters would have used a cell phone? I think that Davey D, the hip hop journalist mentioned this in his interview with Amy Goodman. He stated that the people protesting have been doing this for years and that they are on their game and would not have needed a cell phone.
    I do see the resemblance between the choice of BART to shut down cell phone service and the President of Egypt shutting down internet to quell protests. I do not see how in America a decision can be made to turn off cell phone service that easily. Do we not live in a democracy? How is a decision like this made so simply? Hearing what BART was able to do make me nervous for the future. Will it be easy for an agency like BART to shut down cell phone service?
    I also wanted to talk about the “Hacktivist” group, Anonymous. In reaction to what BART choose to do with cell phone service, Anonymous went into BART’s website mybart.com, and then shared personal information of over 2,000 BART users that had signed up to create an account with BART. While I do think that it was sort of funny how Anonymous was able to hack into the main BART website, and shut it down for six hours, I did not see the sharing of personal information of BART users was necessary. I think that the choice to do that kind of overshadowed the whole reason why they did it. It was supposed to be in reaction to BART shutting down cell phone service for no real apparent reason. I think that Anonymous just brought this situation into an entirely different direction. What they did was wrong by sharing that information. Those users on mybart.com had nothing to do with BART’s decision to shut down the internet, they were just innocent people who had an account and now a lot of their personal information is out in the public.

  • Steve Ford says:

    This is a very surprising article and makes you think how nice it is to live in a country like America. I find it unbelievable that an organization can completely shut off cell phone towers. This is a huge slap in the face to freedom of speech. Americans take many luxuries for granted. I like the fact that there are groups helping these people with dial-up phone accounts. Protesting is becoming more dangerous. I also am curious about BART because they are getting themselves in a fight they cannot handle if they want to start sabotaging things in the United States.

  • Tinamarie Rintye says:

    I will agree with many of my fellow peers claim that it was wrong for DART police officers to shoot a homeless man dead, for they could of did other things to apprehend him. This article is not about the senseless killing, but the censorship as retaliation against protesting. To me it seems that both DART and the hacking group Anonymous actions were both wrong. One DART should have allowed the protest with cell towers function unless it was to distribute commuters getting to trains and such. For protest is protected by the first amendment of the constitution. Also those cell towers must be important to public safety, so I can’t believe they got authority to shut them down! There seem to be something missing fact wise, but I digress. Then for a hacking activist group to become involve with this issue is a bit extreme! Granted their claim of “not hurting anyone” is valid, but does that justify their actions of shutting down a website and exposing people personal information? Not really. Although one can say it fairly simple to get people information and marketing companies do sale the information doesn’t make it ok to steal it. I understand the group wants to show that compare to what DART did to the communication system they could do worst and that fine, but where does it stop! I agree we need watch dogs to keep an eye out for censorship because it can lead down a very dangerous road. I support them it that sense, but I do not agree with the theft. To me both sides could have taken a better action to handle the situation.

  • davidhanaway says:

    I thought this article was pretty interesting. It really intrigued me that the hacker was able to shut down BART’s website and also to get the information of 2,000 customers How does BART police website not protect their information.I wonder what else the anonymous hacker is able to do. Its scary to really think how technology is opening up another way of engaging in a war or commit crimes. I heard something about the possibility of a hacker unlocking all of the jail cells. Its scary to think that we can do such things now a days., I agree that the people should have rioted against the BART police force. Its insane that the guy only served 7 months in jail even though he killed the homeless man. He should have been held to a higher standard as a police officer and should have served the normal sentence.

  • annaychin says:

    BART authorities defended their decision to shut down cellular-service towers because they claimed it was done to protect public safety. I think their decision to shut down the towers was more dangerous than any planned protest, because like Catherine Crump of the ACLU “cellphone networks are something we’ve all come to rely on.” And “people use them for all sorts of communication that have nothing to do with protest.” There could have been an emergency, violent crime, robbery, or medical emergency happening in the area where the victim/bystander/person would not have been able to send a cellphone call for help due to the service being shut down. In my mind, that is a bigger problem for public safety than a protest disrupting services because from what I also read it did not say anything about the July 11th major protest being a “violent” protest, only that it shut down the station. Halting services may have been an inconvenience for BART but not being able to send cell phone calls during an emergency or crime isn’t an inconvenience, it’s potentially life-threatening. I think BART got what they deserved, having their site shut down and exposed. If they want to act as if their authority is superior by killing homeless people without imminent danger or shutting down cell phone towers to avoid a public protest than they should be exposed for their vulnerabilities in security. It’s eye-opening and it should’ve taken them down a notch from their high horse.

  • taylorlnolan says:

    There are a lot of different arguments being made within this one news story; the wrongful shooting of a homeless man, the hacking of BART’s website, and what the most focus is on, the turning off of cell phone reception during a protest on the platform of one of BART’s stations. A key part to this is what BART describes as “public safety”. According to them the protesters were endangering the safety of others by being on the platform, and because of their location BART had the right to keep other citizens safe. Where was the issue of public safety though? And how does not letting people use their cell phone help in making people safe? This whole concept is just extremely weak. If the protest were to turn violent than the police have the responsibility to deal with that accordingly, but even then it still doesn’t make sense that cutting off communication is the way to do that. In the issue of public safety the lack of cellular reception just does not make sense as an appropriate response.

  • Cheng-Hua Wang says:

    What BART did seems to be a violation of first amendment rights. The right to assemble and peaceably protest is protected by the constitution. The turning off of the cell phone towers was clearly meant to hinder the spread of information and prevent protest. I am curious as to what justification BART police had for turning off those towers. They obviously cannot say “We wanted to prevent people protesting.” I suppose they could say that they feared an unruly crowd, but it is doubtful many people will buy that excuse. I believe the comparison between the Mubarak situation and this situation are similar, however this is on a much smaller scale and in America, the supposed “land of the free.” The punishment of over seven months of prison for a public execution of a restrained individual seems to be too lenient to me. It appears to me that the BART police may be pushing their bounds to see what they can get away with.

  • Anqi Li says:

    It surprised me a lot that the BART police killed the homeless and then cut off cell phone service was happened in U.S. For me, this kind of things are usually happen in develop countries and some countries in mideast. They are common, and happen everyday, everywhere. However, when this happened in America, it’s obviously to see the people and the taxpayer have already gave the government too much power. Fortunately, the government finally tell everybody the truth of the whole thing, they are honest and bravely.

    Another example, the Telecomix, really makes me moved a lot. Everyone has the right to know the truth, they know the truth by media, witness, and other ways. Telecomix give media workers the chance to tell the truth. I can’t imagine how Telecomix volunteers work under such a high pressure, but their courage is incredible. This world need truth, people need truth, although the government has a huge power, it shouldn’t deprive the right of knowing the truth, no matter from which situation.

  • rdl37 says:

    What BART has done to quite protest should be considered inexcusable. Limiting peoples right to free speech when they are not infringing on anyone’s rights is illegal and immoral. Bart should be punished by the FCC and an example should be made. Furthermore, the execution of two defenseless homeless individuals should be treated with swift and just action. The BART security is seemingly out of control and needs to be corrected. This however does NOT give anonymous the right to hack their website and expose personal information of 2k people. Working in the world of internet security I have become familiar with the group anonymous. They infect and attack anyone they feel jeopardizes the rights of people. This is not their right to decide. No one has elected them, or approved them to take such action. Furthermore, there has been accounts of attacks made by this group against USA government agencies because they were charged with hunting them down. This has nothing to do with their “mission” and proves that they are self glorifying.

  • First of all, I am actually very surprised that this can happen in America. Given how clearly the constitution protects the right to gather, the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. For a government agency to go against all this and claim to be protecting people. The people that organized the protests did not say they were coming to riot they just wanted to be heard. The measure BART took in this incident did the opposite of what the aimed to do, instead of solving the problem they created a bigger problem. They painted a target on their back, which resulted in retribution, in form of Anonymous. It is also hypocritical that one arm of the government paints Mubarak in Egypt as an animal, demanding him to leave while another arm of the government does some of what he is doing.

  • This situation is outrageous, it is one to kill someone in self defense but to kill someone while they are restrained is very very wrong and there was good reason for the protests. But when public safety is an issue I find that it is okay to act in the interest of the public and the passengers. If they needed to shutdown the platform like they had to a few years earlier then there would be a problem. So to protect those people they shut down the cell phone towers and prevent the protest. I believe that this is in the best interest of the people even though it does can be related to the dictator in Egypt when he cut off communication to the outside world by shutting down the cell phone communication and the internet. But I feel the situation is different and this situation is more for protection. Now as a reaction to shutting down the cell phone towers hackers decided to shut down the BART website and I feel that it is getting out of hand and that these people need to get a life.

  • sfh35 says:

    There has always been a fine line when it comes to police authority and use of excess force. There have been a number of situations in our nations recent past where police actions have been questioned and have resulted in riots and protests. The question then becomes what actions must authorities take to squash such uprisings? What is the limit of action the authorities can/must take? According to BART, they have the right to shut down Internet and cell phone service in an effort to thwart public protest and the disruption of rush hour traffic. I tend to agree with this action and strongly disagree with the connection to Mubarak’s decision to shut down cell service and the Internet in Egypt. Internet and cell service on the subway is a luxury provided by BART. Because of this BART retains the right to shut off those services if they fell it will help protect the public and insure a smooth evening rush hour. This in no way is similar to the shut down of Internet and cell service in other foreign countries in an effort to discourage public protests. The shutting down of a city or countries Internet is absolutely an infringement of civil rights. That is censorship at its core. BART turning off cell phone service on the subway is like your parents telling you to turn off the TV when you’re at the dinner table. Which is totally different than not having television at all.

  • sm939 says:

    I completely agree that the police should not have shot the homeless man and that there were many other ways to go about that. That was the most extreme thing that they could have done and it was not called for. The fact that BART shut off cell coverage was ridiculous. They had no right to take that away from the people. Plus I think it was ineffective since protests will happen anyway even if there are no mobile ways to communicate so there was really no reason for this to happen. Also, while I think that exposing peoples’ names and information was maybe not the best way to handle the situation I do agree with X when he said that how else were people going to know for sure that it was so easy to break BART’s security. The hard evidence was necessary and while some might argue it was against everyones’ privacy, I think it was effective.

  • Lan Nguyen says:

    BART is in weak standing in this battle.
    First, history incidents have put doubt on BART’s statements since BART police attacked 2-3 people within a year and there were no transparency in the evidence that BART used to support their stance. Multiple incidents raised a question in validity of BART’s argument. Would it be reasonable to have that many attacks toward BART police? Even if granted it is reasonable, people will question what BART police does to make people attempt to bring them down.

    Second, the movement to shut down cellphone access in the subway system is overboard. Cellphone is one of the most popular technology devices which is served the purpose of communication, entertainment, information, etc.
    Cellphone could be denied for a legitimate reason. For example: when I go to the pre-screening of a movie, all the camera devices are denied due to copyright safety. However, the reason BART provided is not legitimate “to protect public safety”.
    David Hill brought up a good example that they did not shut down cellphone use when there were flash mob and such. So what do they mean by saying protect public safety? How do they do that by shutting down the cellphone use?

  • The killing of the homeless man by the police was wrong and a fine example of police corruption in today’s society. But the fact that BART shut down the cell towers in the subway as a means of stopping a protest, which is free speech and illegal to stop, was completely out of proportion. The Westboro Baptist Church is constantly protesting and yet nothing is done to them because they are not protesting something government related. The hacker group Anonymous’ attack on the BART website has to be applauded. Most of what Anonymous does is to stop corrupt or otherwise unfriendly organizations and that was seen here. The fact that BART shut down the cell towers in defense against this protest and nothing else is a good enough example of a corrupt system.

  • As others have mentioned in the above posts, this incident reeks of hypocrisy and bad decision making on the part of the BART administrators. In a country like America where the rights of the people are protected beyond any other luxury and by any means necessary, even potentially taking those rights away from the public is destined to result in a backlash. Whats even more troubling about this incident is that it was a calculated decision that was made by the BART officials and they dangerously underestimated the American public. What stood out to me the most was the fact that the officer that executed to the arrested man in 2009 only served 7 months in prison. While I don’t try to diminish or belittle the bravery and service that the police provide to this country, their like of work only means they enforce the law, it doesn’t entitle them to be above it. 7months in prison for what is essentially murder, on a defenseless and suppressed individual? Exactly what threat was he imposing on the police officers with his face down on the ground and hands cuffed behind his back? That is murder, plain and simple. Shutting down the cell towers was obviously a poor decision to make and it has only brought more attention to the story than it otherwise would have garnered on it’s own, essentially doing the very opposite of what it was intended to do. This incident should be investigated by a civillian inquiry organization and those responsible should be put under review.

  • melvinjboban says:

    I am actually fully supporting the “people” with the actions that BART and literally the government has done in San Francisco. Shutting down a telephone service in my opinion is absolutely crossing the line, especially given the intention’s that they have had in the past with the killings within their train platforms. Its one thing to be in a country where dictation has been set and run throughout many years. Its another be in a country like the U.S. and see dictatorship being carried out by a simple train police force.

    Incidents like this is what I think lead to governments, even the U.S. government to be con-artists and fakes. The idea of freedom, and the idea of security is only placed in our heads as people. In truth, maybe it is a big brother type of nation in which we are believed to have freedom to protest and stand for what we believe when in essence, we are just puppets to higher power and authority.

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