Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Scenes From a BART Non-Riot
A pair of us were let out early from a "Four Saints in Three Acts" rehearsal at SFMOMA on Monday afternoon because there were reports of a riot and mayhem coming to the BART system at Civic Center Station, where a street drunk was gunned down by a BART policeman last month.
This prompted a protest in the Civic Center BART station a week ago that was raucous, disruptive and very theatrical, staged for a media swarm who were loving every minute of it while officially tsk-tsking the protestors.
Blowing up this tiny incident into an international news item was the unintended fault of BART spokesman Linton Johnson who came up with the bright idea to turn off all mobile device service in the station so the protestors couldn't communicate with each other digitally. This is the kind of action the United States has been officially condemning when it happens in Egypt and China and other occasionally authoritarian regimes.
The action also got the serious attention of the worldwide hacking community, and so Anonymous and its loosely allied group of friends online have started attacking the BART bureaucracy until they apologize and make it official policy that they will never pull something that authoritarian again.
Walking through the middle of United Nations Plaza, I saw a few young protestor types in red T-shirts and a few V for Vendetta masks and also saw a large, fairly relaxed crew of police sitting and standing, waiting for orders.
There were also tour buses gliding through which added to the surreal feeling.
By the time I got home at 5:30, the police and protestors started a cat-and-mouse game down Market Street and it was the police who shut the four downtown San Francisco stations for two hours, bringing on BART commuter hell. And it looks like the hackers are just getting started (click here for the latest from the Bay Citizen).