Did BART Police violate everyone's civil liberties by switching off cell phone service last week, or were they simply acting in the name of public safety? An editorial in the Examiner today argues the latter, and this is perhaps predictable given the paper's arguable conservative bent. The ACLU, naturally, has penned a strongly worded letter to BART Police chief Kenton Rainey stating their objections, though they aren't filing any lawsuits just yet.
ABC7 and the Chron meanwhile are trying to stay impartial while publicizing BART's claim that the Supreme Court is on their side in this, citing a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brandenburg v. Ohio, which appears to allow public agencies to put public safety before free speech when there is an imminent danger to the public.
Despite threats of more protests, everything ran smoothly last evening on BART, though more protests could be imminent.
So, is cell phone service a civil right? Especially since we've only had underground service for a couple of years now? Or can BART just give it and take it away as they please?
In any event, all the bad publicity is definitely making BART directors think twice about the matter, with several calling for a hard-and-fast rule about when they can shut off wireless service in the future.