Saturday, August 13, 2011


The operators of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system temporarily shut down cell service last night in four downtown San Francisco stations to interfere with a protest over a shooting by a BART police officer, a spokesman for the system said today. "BART staff or contractors shut down power to the nodes and alerted the cell carriers," James Allison, deputy chief communications officer for BART, told CNET. The move was "one of many tactics to ensure the safety of everyone on the platform," he said in an initial statement provided to CNET earlier this afternoon.

Activists had planned to protest the fatal shooting of Charles Blair Hill, who BART police said went after them with a knife before an officer shot him on July 3. "Organizers planning to disrupt BART service...stated they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART police," said the original BART statement. "A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees, and demonstrators."

The initial statement from BART said the subway system had asked the wireless carriers to suspend the service in the stations, but Allison later said BART itself pulled the plug and notified the providers after the fact.

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