Activists linked to the Anonymous cyber collective finally managed to protest responsibly against controversial BART policies without causing major service disruptions or station closures.
The latest demonstration stands in marked contrast to earlier weeks when activists protested on a number of BART platforms – leading to massive train delays and considerable commuter angst.
This time around, Anonymous asked supporters to stay off underground train platforms and out of Market Street traffic.
“Stay there, don’t start randomly marching up and down the streets,” an Anonymous message obtain by the SF Chron read.
“This in no way impedes the function of the station itself, and ensures that the public cannot reasonably see us as ‘the protesters who kept me from getting home.’”
Nevertheless, BART police did arrest two men, including a protest leader, who entered fare gates at Embarcadero Station with a bullhorn. Other protestors gathered around the gates, before police moved them out of the way.
Meanwhile, SFPD officers in riot gear deployed on Market Street, creating a buffer zone to keep vocal protestors – who chanted “no justice, no peace, disband the BART police” – on the sidewalk.
The salient shift in strategy by Anonymous seems to highlight a growing realization by collective members that protests, whether in the digital or physical realm, must be precisely aimed at a specific target to avoid collateral damage.
While it may be too late to assuage the frustration of San Francisco commuters, Anonymous is a rapidly evolving movement with a significant number of active members in various countries.
As such, the San Francisco BART debacle is only a local, temporary setback for Anonymous and will not impede future operations or reduce growing support for the group.