BART's latest incident of deplorable teen violence has an adorable ending, but does little to address concerns that BART is dragging its feet and under-publicizing incidents of violence on its trains. The third teen mob attack in the last three months took place at BART’s Oakland Coliseum Station last Friday, according to the Chronicle, with one woman’s phone being stolen by what KRON 4 describes as a gang of “10 to 13 teens.” While the phone was recovered and returned to the victim by a passenger who stepped in (and endured a flurry punches and kicks in the process) the incident makes clear that BART’s summer of teen mob anxiety continues after the infamous flash mob swarm robbery in late April, a violent cell phone robbery last week, and BART robberies up 45 percent so far in 2017.
While this particular bit of BART crime has a happy resolution, blood was still shed and your heebie-jeebies over mob violence on BART are unlikely to be quelled. Shortly before 6:30 p.m. last Friday, an unidentified woman sat near a group of teens on a Warm Springs/South Fremont Station-bound train. When the train stopped at West Oakland, one of the teens snatched her phone and the whole group ran from the train.
Another passenger, 62-year-old Leonard Brown, chased them off the train and confronted them in the Coliseum station to demand they give they give the phone back. The deplorables did not comply, and instead punched and kicked Brown. Still, Brown doggedly kept grabbing for the phone and eventually wrestled it from a teen. The phone was later returned to its owner.
"This is not my first rodeo," Brown told the Chronicle, somewhat bloodied by the encounter.
While both these incidents sound like inspiring examples of heroism in everyday public transit, there are still significant concerns with BART's handling of these robberies. BART police did apprehend all of the teens, but subsequently released them all without charges because witnesses could not identify which specific teen was the phone-snatcher. I'm neither an attorney nor a parent, but aren’t they all kind of guilty of something coordinated here? Assaulting a passenger?
BART police claim to be reviewing surveillance video of the incident, now that all BART cars supposedly have working cameras. But they were clearly slow to publicize the incident or seek witnesses. BART no longer makes daily crime logs public, and merely posts incidents to the third-party site CrimeMapping.com. This essentially puts the onus on victims and bystanders to follow up if they’ve been involved in a crime.
It also leaves BART exposed to civil liability, as some victims of the April flash mob attack are suing BART for $3 million.