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BART Police Violate Fire Code, Endanger Passengers To Prevent Protests
SPECIAL BULLETIN: BART Police have been using station exit barriers to physically shut down stations with hundreds of passengers still inside, trapping large groups of people inside with insufficient means of emergency egress. No Justice No BART will be pushing the Fire Marshall, SF supervisors, and BART Directors to address this new BART Police tactic because it seriously endangers passengers.
[video by dave id]
Yesterday and last monday, BART police exercised a great deal of control over protesters ability to enter and exit stations, by closing them based on the location of crowds of protesters above ground. They timed these closures based soley on protester locations above ground, so that as a group of suspected protesters approached a station, police and station agents would close all of the exits in a matter of seconds, and with no warning to passengers. They would THEN evacuate the locked down station, directing all BART passengers in the station to exit via a single, tighly guarded door. This created panicky crowds, pushing and shoving, and unsafe crowded conditions. The blocked exits were not attended, and were totally impossible to exit, due to a metal gates that had been lowered and locked.
A group of us witnessed this in person from inside the Powell Street station yesterday, and we noted how BART passengers panicked as they realized they were being suddenly trapped in an underground station with no apparent exit. It struck us that they had good reason to panic. What if there was an earthquake? Those metal doors are there to seal the station AFTER everyone is out. They are not there to use to limit people's ability to come into the station and hand out flyers. This particular tactic ILLEGALLY compromises the safety of everyone in the station, locking them inside, restricting their ability (their RIGHT, in fact) to exit the station in case of emergency, in order to prevent a few folks on the street from coming into the BART station with protest signs.
As with turning off cell phone service, preventing passengers from being able to dial 911, BART seems to be willing to use any tool, break any law, and go to any length, to prevent people from protesting their policies. This is yet ANOTHER illustration of how bad things are at BART, of how little thought their police and administrators give to passenger well being, of how willing they are to break the law, to endanger innocent passengers, to shut off cell phones, to arrest people for having a sign, all in response to our legitimate concerns being aired publicly inside a train station. These are violations of our basic civil liberties, they are civil rights violations because they are targeted toward the political content of our speech (sports fans can chant in stations all they want), and they are literally criminal acts that people lose their jobs and get thrown in jail over.