California: BART caught organizing and scripting “spontaneous” citizens demanding repression

BART spokesman Linton Johnson arranges "citizen demands" for political repression; says people have no rights when in transit system

BART spokesman in hot water for staging support

Justin Berton, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO — The head of BART’s Board of Directors on Wednesday denounced an attempt by the transit agency’s chief spokesman to stock a news conference with riders critical of activists who have staged rush-hour protests in downtown San Francisco stations.

The spokesman, Linton Johnson, sent an e-mail to BART colleagues hours before a planned protest Aug. 11 in which he outlined a strategy to win over public opinion by showcasing “loyal riders” at a news conference. The riders were to say that protesters were putting their safety at risk.

Johnson planned for two sport utility vehicles to bring 10 to 15 riders to the news conference at the Powell Street Station in San Francisco, where they would read from scripts that the spokesman wrote. The scripted statement concluded, “We riders demand an immediate end to these illegal acts that make us late and put our lives at risk.” Continue reading

Homeland Security systematizing-federalizing the police repression of BART protests

August 30, 2011


Justice Department, Homeland Security personnel present at #OpBART protests

Officers from a Department of Homeland Security Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response unit in the Civic Center BART station on August 29, 2011. photo by Geoff King

Amongst the dozens of riot gear-clad San Francisco and BART police officers that have packed Downtown San Francisco streets during the OpBART protests for the past three Mondays, you may have spotted some officers wearing khaki slacks and bulletproof vests, a far cry from the heavy duty helmets and body armor worn by officers from other agencies.

Those lightly-clad officers were part of a Department of Homeland Security Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) unit, an anti-terror unit charged with protecting transportation infrastructure from potential acts of terrorism. VIPR units are run by the Transportation Security Administration. According to the TSA’s website, VIPR teams are terrorism deterrents that “a random, announced, high-visibility surge into a transit agency, in addition to enhancing agency resources during special events.” VIPR teams have been deployed more than 50 times since the program began in 2005, and regularly patrol New York’s Metro North and Long Island Railroad commuter systems. Continue reading

San Francisco: BART backs off tactic of cutting cellphone service to thwart protests

After taking heat from the ACLU and being hacked by Anonymous for shutting down cellphone service to four stations last week, the Bay Area’s BART kept cell service on during Monday protests.

(BART police officers push back a protester at the Civic Center station in San Francisco, Monday, Aug. 15. Cellphone service was operating as protesters gathered at a San Francisco subway station during rush-hour several days after transit officials shut wireless service to head off another demonstration. Photo by Jeff Chiu/AP)

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer, Christian Science Monitor

August 16, 2011

Officials at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) decided Monday that cutting cellphone service to thwart another planned protest would cause more trouble than the protests themselves. Instead, four stations were temporarily closed, creating a chaotic rush-hour commute.

About 50 activists protesting two BART police shootings managed to disrupt local train service Monday evening as transit officials closed several central stations to commuter travel. Continue reading

BART Officers Kill Man at San Francisco Train Station

by Bryan Gerhart

July 6 2011

As of Sunday night, two men have died at the hands of BART police in less than three years. At 9:34 p.m. on July 3, two officers responded to a call about a man with an open bottle of alcohol at San Francisco’s Civic Center station. Eleven minutes later the BART police arrived on the scene. Within one minute, the man described by a witness as a “wobbly drunk” had been shot in the torso. An hour after that he was declared dead at San Francisco General.

It’s easy to want to compare the incident to that of Oscar Grant’s murder on New Year’s day in 2009, but the details are little different. Grant was unarmed and shot at point blank while lying face down on the Fruitvale station platform. Sunday’s victim (police are withholding his identity until they can contact family) was holding a knife as well as a bottle, which he allegedly hurled at the two BART officers upon their arrival. Grant’s killer, former officer Johannes Mehserle (who was released after serving half of his two year sentence for manslaughter) claims his intent was to use his Taser, not his pistol, on the subdued BART rider. This weekend, despite being in a crowded public place, discharging three bullets was no accident; one officer carried a Taser but never reached for it. Oscar Grant was a young Black male. The man killed on the eve of the 4th of July was white. Continue reading

SF Chronicle: Oakland, BART police kill man near station

[The reader of this story will see that the journalist took a statement from the police, did not question any aspect of it, took no statements from other sources, and wrote it up as if it was the truth and the whole truth.  There will be no way to find out if this is an accurate or complete story until other voices are heard.

But if one assumes that the basic story given may be true, it still raises the question:  When wild animals or escaped zoo animals threaten others, they are often tranquilized, but not killed.  Is there no way that the police know how to stop someone ‘out of control’ than by having 5 officers pump bullets into him until dead?-ed.]

John Coté, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, July 18, 2010

(07-17) 16:11 PDT OAKLAND — Oakland and BART police officers shot and killed a man Saturday morning near the Fruitvale BART Station when, authorities said, he charged the officers holding a knife in each hand after leading them on a chase for blocks.

Five officers opened fire on the man when he threatened an officer after police unsuccessfully tried to subdue him with a Taser stun gun, Oakland police Officer Jeff Thomason said.

“He had one knife in each hand and charged toward one of the officers,” Thomason said. “That’s when the other officers opened fire.” Continue reading

Prosecution rests in trial of cop who killed Oscar Grant

A BART police officer before he resigned from the force after executing Oscar Grant, Johannes Mehserle arrived at the Fruitvale BART platform that night to join two officers already there who had detained Grant and his friends. Two and a half minutes after his arrival, Mehserle stood over Grant as he lay face down on the concrete and shot him to death. – Video frame: ABC7

June 21, 2010

by Thandisizwe Chimurenga

The prosecution in People of the State of California v. Johannes Mehserle has rested its case. Mehserle has been charged with murder in the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant. The trial was ordered moved to Los Angeles last fall due to extensive pretrial publicity and concerns about the fairness of jurors.The day’s final witness was Sgt. Charles Spruill with the Vacaville (Solano County) Police Department.

Spruill, an expert witness in group dynamics and crowd control techniques, testified briefly as to the various classes or groupings of people and the emotional and psychological dynamics at play that officers need to be aware of.

Asked by Deputy District Attorney David Stein what officers are taught when they see a fellow officer “losing control,” Spruill replied, “It’s important that we not make our jobs harder. We are responsible for each other. That’s basic learning; cadets don’t leave the academy until they master this.” Continue reading