I have to count my blessings that I don’t work downtown at the moment because yesterday’s protest would have done the exact opposite to me of what the protesters wanted. Yesterday was a day when a good idea when wrong and I’m not even sure it was that good of an idea.
There is still a little dispute about whether it was because of the shooting of a homeless man who while being drunk threw a bottle at BART police and then drew a knife and started to come at them or whether or not it was BART cutting off cell phone service last week. There’s a couple of problems with each of these.
First, Charles Hill, attacked police officers. Sure, they probably could have done some TV style police moves and disarmed him and got him to the ground, but TV isn’t real life. He had a knife pulled out and after throwing a bottle at police started to come towards them. I don’t know if he ran, lunged or just stood there stabbing the air in the direction of the cops, but he was a threat. Oscar Grant on the other hand, wasn’t a threat. I can see people protesting that incident, but not this one.
The second is the Guy Fawkes masks protesting censorship by turning off cell phone service underground to protestors. Here’s a couple of things. I actually liked going into the station after work at one of my last jobs because the cell reception was crap. I could barely get 3G service on my cell even in BART so to me if BART and Muni kept their mouths shut no one would have noticed. The second is that most of the protesters probably don’t know that Guy Fawkes came to fame by being a religious fanatic in England who was caught sitting on a number of powder kegs to be used to assassinate King James I and hopefully restore a Catholic Monarchy in England. Fawkes ended up committing suicide at his execution by jumping from the scaffold he was to be hung from before he was to be drawn and quartered. Choosing one pain over a more grisly pain. The Brits back then only hung you until you were almost dead, then dropped you, tied you down, sliced off your genitals, then ripped your guts out and if you were lucky as the last act of mercy beheaded you. Actually, now that I think about it, the people who make V is for Vengence should have done some homework as well.
Many people are calling this a denial of freedom of speech. No one was denying their the right to speak, just not on cell phones which work poorly underground anyway. I’m not even sure why you would need a cellphone at a protest anyway since you’re supposed to make your voice heard to those you are protesting against.
Much of this fell on deaf ears. Yes, there were BART Police there and many of the protesters were arrested, but did they get their point across? In my opinion, NO. When you stage a protest your goal is to bring the people around you into your outrage and join you. What this protest did was anger those people who were trying to get home from work to be with their families. No to have their trip home interrupted by a mass of people angry over the death of a man who attacked police or because they couldn’t use their cellphones in a place where cellphones don’t work very well in the first place.
I think the protesters today need to do a little homework to learn how to be more effective. Perhaps it would have been better to protest at BART headquarters, but that would require more work to get there. People will not join your cause if your only purpose is to disrupt the people. BART and MUNI don’t really care too much about that, but the people do.