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“Anonymous” BART protests snarl Monday evening commute

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A peaceful crowd of demonstrators disrupted the evening commute Monday, leading police through Downtown San Francisco and leading to the roving closures of all four underground BART and MUNI Metro Stations at the height of commute hour.

Thousands of transit patrons experienced delays of hours after a planned 5 p.m. protest at the Civic Center BART Station spilled out to other stations on Market Street, causing closures that lasted upwards of 90 minutes.

At various times Monday evening, the agency closed Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery and Embarcadero Stations — oftentimes allowing passengers to disembark at each stop, but keeping riders from entering.

The tactic left angry commuters fuming about the delays, which left some riders running from station to station in an effort to beat protesters to each stop before police decided to shut down the facility.

All stations were reopened by 7:30 p.m., some two and a half hours after protesters congregated at Civic Center Station in a heated, but nonviolent, face-off with BART Police officers dressed in riot gear.

No arrests or injuries were reported, according to the transit agency.

The protest group assembled to demonstrate against the transit agency’s controversial decision to suspend underground wireless service to passengers to thwart a planned protest last week. The move angered free speech advocates who accused the transit district, a government agency, of censoring public communication.

BART argued the decision to cut off wireless to riders was done out of interest for public safety.

The loosely-organized international hacking group “Anonymous” called for Monday evening’s protest to demonstrate against the decision to limit subway cell coverage.

On Sunday, the hacking group infiltrated a BART marketing website, replacing text and images with its trademark Guy Fawkes mask image, and leaked the user names, passwords and contact information for 2,001 myBART.org subscribers.

The transit agency said it was in the process of contacting users who had their information leaked publicly and urged them to seek credit monitoring services to prevent identity theft.

Contact the Beat at news@californiabeat.org.

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