About three dozen BART riders ate their lunch at Embarcadero Station on Saturday, in protest of police who arrested a man earlier in the week for eating on the platform.
The protesters were joined by Janice Li, member of the BART Board of Directors, who said she joined in because BART has bigger fish to fry than detaining riders for eating on train platforms, according to ABC 7 News. On Nov. 4, Steve Foster of Concord was handcuffed by BART police officers at the Pleasant Hill station because he ate a sandwich as he waited for his train, according to KTVU. The incident is being investigated.
“I realize some things are illegal with our penal code, but I want to be mindful of how we’re using resources to enforce our system,” Li explained to ABC 7.
In a statement, BART said Foster was not arrested but was detained after he failed to give police his name. “He was not arrested… he was cited for eating which is a violation of state law. The man was lawfully handcuffed after refusing to provide his name multiple times, once he provided his name he was cited and released,” news outlets reported.
The incident, which was captured on video, angered BART riders who took to social media to voice their disdain – many questioning whether Foster would have been approached by the officer and detained had he been white instead of Black.
Foster himself told KTVU that he believes race played a role. The officer who stopped and questioned Foster is white.
A person videotaping the incident asked police where the sign was that said eating is prohibited on BART.
“Where is there a sign up here that says we can’t eat on the platform? We know we can’t eat on the train,” she inquired. Foster told the officer: “You don’t have no reason to f—k with me.”
“You’re eating,” the officer told Foster. “It’s against the law. “It’s a violation of California law. I have the right to detain you.”
The viral video was posted on Twitter by Marc Lamont Hill and plenty of people voiced their disgust at the police action.
The police stopped this man for eating a sandwich. How can anybody defend this? pic.twitter.com/98neUGB1vi
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) November 10, 2019
“I wonder how many white people this f— walked by eating before he decided to exert his bulls— power over a minority. Shameful s— man,” said J. Blanco @Jblanc0.
“Everyone should show up on BART on Monday eating a sandwich,” said Sean Drayton @seandrayton.
“So apparently every murder, rape, robbery & assault has been solved so California police have become sandwich patrol,” mused KD @Fly_Sistah.
An independent auditor who oversee the BART police force and the BART police chief will now review the video as part of their investigation.