SAN FRANCISCO -- An illegal, Orwellian violation of free-speech rights? Or just a smart tactic to protect train passengers' safety from rowdy would-be demonstrators during a busy evening commute?
The question resonated Saturday in San Francisco and beyond as details emerged of Bay Area Rapid Transit officials' decision to cut off underground cell phone service for a few hours at some stations Thursday. Commuters at stations from downtown to the city's main airport were affected as BART officials sought to tactically thwart a planned protest over the recent fatal shooting of a 45-year-old man by transit police.
Two days later, the move had civil rights and legal experts questioning the agency's move, and drew backlash from one transit board member who was taken aback by the decision.
"I'm just shocked that they didn't think about the implications of this. We really don't have the right to be this type of censor," said Lynette Sweet, who serves on BART board. "In my opinion, we've let the actions of a few people affect everybody. And that's not fair."
Damn, Lady. Too bad TSA and the rest of the government don't see things your way.
BART Deputy Police Chief Benson Fairow said that, for his agency, the issue boiled down simply to one of public safety.
"It wasn't a decision made lightly. This wasn't about free speech. It was about safety," Fairow told KTVU-TV on Friday.
Yeah, fuck the people and their rights. Fuck free speech.