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Indybay Feature
Wed Jun 29 2016
BART to Target the Homeless with Police Interrogations, Database, and Fines
BART Creates a New Way to Become a Criminal: The Vicious Crime of Seat Hogging.
In April, the BART Board passed a law making it illegal to occupy two seats during rush hour on a BART train. The law was not to take effect until the BART police presented their implementation strategy. At the most recent BART Board meeting on June 23, BART police presented how they intend to enforce the new law.

Despite BART police and Board members claims to the contrary, this will criminalize the homeless, who are one of the obvious targets of the law and whom will be among those most likely to run afoul of it. If a homeless person — or anyone else — without ID is stopped, BART police will drag him or her off the train and detain them until they can somehow prove their identity, because the law demands that a name be entered into a new database for every interaction. The law will thus create a database of "miscreants," whose only "crime" is putting a backpack on a seat or falling over asleep. Fines of up to $500 will ensure that those least able to afford it become debtors, potentially subjecting violators to criminal warrants and further harrassment.

Longtime BART director Joel Keller admitted he wants police to target the homeless. “We at some point need to get serious about whether BART is a homeless shelter or provides transportation,” Joel Keller said regarding his annoyance at seeing people sleeping on trains.

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