Statement by BART General Manager Grace Crunican regarding recent petition drive
January 2, 2015
“BART supports the rights of free expression. Just yesterday, New Year’s Day, the District facilitated a vigil to honor the life of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART Station, drawing hundreds of community participants. BART has an Expressive Activities permit procedure which balances the constitutional rights of the public with the transit agency’s mission of providing safe, reliable public transportation for the Bay Area. Hundreds of permits to facilitate free speech activities at our stations are administered each year.
On November 28, 2014, a group of demonstrators made a decision to shut the BART system down. The group chained themselves to trains at West Oakland and closed down the BART system for hours, creating mobility problems for thousands of people who rely on public transportation to get to work or to vital appointments. The act was intentional and potentially dangerous to our passengers. BART police had no choice but to arrest 14 protesters in the incident.
BART is aware of the petition drive asking that the demonstrators be held harmless for their actions. Halting BART service and inconveniencing hundreds and thousands of riders is a crime, and BART officers acted in accordance with their duty to uphold the law by issuing citations under California Penal Code section 369i(a) for hindering ‘…the safe and efficient operation of any locomotive, railway car, or train…’
As a public agency fully funded by riders and tax payers, we must never lose sight of the agency’s mission to provide public transportation to the citizens we serve.”