Anonymous Plotting Another BART Protest Tonight

By Chris Roberts
|  Monday, Aug 22, 2011  |  Updated 10:57 AM PDT
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Anonymous Plotting Another BART Protest

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A demonstrator wears a mask during a protest inside the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Civic Center station on Monday. The hacker group "Anonymous" staged a demonstration at a BART station this evening after BART officials turned off cell phone service in its stations last week during a disruptive protest following a fatal shooting of a man by BART police.

Another week, another protest, another standoff between riot-masked police and othe rpeople in masks.

A letter from top BART officials sent Saturday morning -- in which the transit agency defends its decision to shut down cell phone signals on Aug. 11 and station platforms in response to protestors -- appears to have triggered another protest, with members of the hacker group Anonymous, which organized last week's protest, calling for a demonstration at 5 p.m. today, according to the San Francisco Appeal online newspaper.

As of Sunday morning, several hundred people on Facebook had pledged to attend today's demonstration, according to reports. Today's action is also planned for the Civic Center station, where BART police shot and killed a homeless man in early July. Civic Center has been the site of two protests since.

Anonymous has reacted strongly to BART's decision to cut off cell phone communications in a preemptive response to an aborted protest on Aug. 11. Since then, people associating themselves with the group have hacked into multiple BART Web sites, leaking information and disrupting service.

But whether these and today's action are linked is unclear. Anyone can join Anonymous's "hacktivist" movement, and not everyone within the group participates or even necessarily endorses a "hacktivism" action taken by another member. It's anarchy (hackarchy?)!

There does not appear to be a clear strong link between Anonymous's actions, dubbed OpBART, and No Justice No BART, which scheduled the Aug. 11 protest. No Justice No BART was formed following the Jan. 1, 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant on an Oakland BART platform.

Anonymous -- or some unknown folks within Anonymous -- has pledged to keep it up until BART apologizes for the cell phone snafu, which has become international news and has riled more respectable free spech advocates such as the ACLU.

BART's board of directors is scheduled to discuss the transit agency's protesting situation at its Wednesday meeting.

BART's brass, from Interim GM Sherwood Wakeman and BART Board President Bob Franklin, are making things worse, according to BART Board member Lynette Sweet. "What we ended up doing is giving these same people another reason to come back and protest us," she said.

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