Thursday, September 8th, 2011 at 9:54 am in BART.
As BART prepares Thursday for a sixth protest against its police force in two months, the transit agency reports that has it spent about $300,000 in overtime for police and other staff to deal with the first five protests in downtown San Francisco.
Most of the cost was overtime for police officers, said BART spokesman Jim Allison. He said the costs were necessary to protect public safety during the protests, which started after a transit police officer on July 3 fatally shot a knife-wielding homeless man at the Civic Center station. In the first protest on July 11, protesters delayed the evening commute by holding open train doors. BART has tried to keep demonstrations out of stations, with transit officials saying it’s unsafe to have protests on crowded station platforms next to moving trains and the electric third rail that powers them.
“We would have preferred to spend the money on other investments in our train system,” Allison of BART said, “but safety is our first priority.”
In the protest scheduled for 5 p.m. today at the Powell Street station, a group called No Justice No BART has announced plans to try to block the gates to the station. The goal is to spur BART to open the emergency exits and let riders in for free, organizers say. They call it a “spare the fare” event aimed at drawing attention to the group’s demands that BART disband its police force.
BART Board President Bob Franklin said he thinks riders will have little sympathy with attempts to block station entrances and exits during the peak of the evening commute.