BART Says Riders Have No Right to Free Speech Inside Fare Gate as Officials Prepare for Planned Afternoon Protests

By: Brian Shields - Mon, 15 Aug 2011 12:46:29 -0800

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) -- BART officials won't say if they will jam cell phone signals during a scheduled protest Monday afternoon at the Civic Center station but they insist they have the right to do so.

The hacker group Anonymous says it plans to hold a 5:00 p.m. demonstration to express outrage at BART's decision to shut down cell service last Thursday during another planned demonstration which did not materialize.  BART police say they made the decision to prevent demonstrators from coordinating efforts to disrupt train service.

The same group says it's responsible for the weekend hacking of MyBART.org which shut down the web site and led to the exposure of personal data from people who had registered with the site.

Officials will only say they are preparing for Monday afternoon's protest but insist they have the right to cut off cell service for everyone within the fare gates.

"The platform area is deemed a non-public forum," BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.  "A public forum area, which is outside the fare gates, you are allowed to exercize your right to free speech as long as you don't interfere with peoples' ability to get from Point A to Point B or interfere with their Constitutional right to safety.  Outside the fare gates, that's the public forum area.  Inside the fare gates is a non-public forum and by law, by the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court, there is no right to free speech there."

KRON 4's Will Tran talked with a number of BART riders Monday morning.  Many opposed the decision to shut down cell service.

BART officials are urging passengers to have backup plans in case the protesters succeed in disrupting service.

Stay tuned to KRON 4 and KRON4.com for the latest on this developing story.

(Copyright 2011, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)
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