BART Says No Free Rides

The group "No Justice, No BART" is gearing up for another protest at 5 p.m. today at the Powell Street station in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, BART is planning to staff its downtown San Francisco stations with extra police and personnel to help ensure on-time service and passenger safety, BART spokesman Jim Allison said today.

No Justice, No BART announced Monday that it would stage a protest in front of the Powell Street station fare gates today.

The group, which is protesting the July shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill by BART police, said it would continue to protest until BART disbands its police force. Hill was allegedly wielding knives and a broken bottle as weapons when he was shot, police said.

Allison said BART has spent about $300,000 on increased manpower and overtime expenses during the protests that have taken place at San Francisco stations over the past two months.

"It's money we would rather spend on things like making sure the system's in a state of good repair or reinvesting in the infrastructure, but if we have to spend it to make sure trains are on time and people are safe during these demonstrations, we do that," Allison said today.

Some 80 BART volunteers are also set to staff downtown San Francisco stations during today's protest to help passengers and possibly direct them to other stations or alternative forms of transportation, Allison said.

No Justice, No BART has dubbed today a "Spare the Fare Day," during which they encourage passengers to ride for free. The group's spokesman, who goes by Krystof, said Monday that BART regularly opens the fare gates during large-scale events, and that today's protest could prompt the same response.

Allison said that while BART has opened fare gates "for safety reasons" during large events that draw spontaneous crowds, such as the San Francisco Giants' victory parade last fall, any plan to block the fare gates would be illegal.

"We don't have a problem with them demonstrating outside the fare gates, as long as they're not blocking people from getting on the trains," he said.

Organizers have said that if BART police disrupt today's protest, they plan to move to other stations or onto train platforms inside the fare gates.

No Justice, No BART originally formed in 2009 to protest the BART police shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland.

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