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BART says they will employ all options to assure that protests do not disrupt service

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BART officials said that they will take any means necessary, including once again shutting down cell phone and wireless Internet service, to assure that protestors do not disrupt service today.

An online activist group that dubs itself Anonymous, has announced plans to stage a rush-hour protest at the agency’s Civic Center Station. The organization is staging the event in protest of the July 3 shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill by BART police officers.

Originally, the group intended to disrupt service on Thursday, but those efforts were halted after BART shut down its cell phone and wireless Internet service in its downtown stations — an initiative aimed at preventing the activists from communicating with each other.

Despite receiving criticism from civil liberty groups, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said today that the agency could employ that tactic again to assure that service is not disrupted for the evening commute. He also said that the agency will prevent any protests on the agency’s boarding platform that could put passengers and activists at risk for injury.

Shutting down stations is another possibility, said Johnson, and if passengers are traveling within The City, BART will direct them to use parallel Muni services at street level.

The ACLU has scheduled a meeting with BART later today. According to staff attorney Linda Lye, the organization could pursue legal action against the transit agency if it continues to shut down wireless and cell phone service in its stations.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com