BART officials are warning commuters they may shut down stations in San Francisco Monday, with a demonstration set for 5 p.m. Pacific time at Civic Center Station.
But the anticipated showdown of cellular service might not develop Monday. Organizers affiliated with the hacker group Anonymous, who are calling for the protest, are asking demonstrators to take a less disruptive approach by staying off train platforms and out of busy Market Street.
Still, the controversy over BART's decision to cut cell service on Aug. 11 continues to unfold. In response to pressure, BART held a three-hour hearing on Aug. 24 in an effort to craft a formal public policy that walks the line between protecting citizen safety and unfairly stifling free speech.
BART board president Bob Franklin asked his staff for a policy that reflected the concerns of the American Civil Liberties Union and other First Amendment advocates that would allow for a disruption of cell service only if there is “an extreme case when our passengers are imminently at risk,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
But defining “imminent risk” is a challenge, scholars say.