Amid public outcry over the black man detained at Pleasant Hill Station by a BART police officer for eating a breakfast sandwich on the platform, BART's new General Manager Bob Powers has issued a public apology.
The incident in question happened on Monday, November 4, when Concord resident Steven Foster was stopped and cited by a BART cop, ultimately getting handcuffed because he refused to comply with the cop's demands for identification. Video of the incident posted to Facebook subsequently went viral, and a weekend "eat-in" protest saw dozens of people flouting the rules and eating food on the platform at Embarcadero Station, in solidarity with Foster.
In a statement released Monday morning, Powers says, "As a transportation system our concern with eating is related to the cleanliness of our stations and system. This was not the case in the incident at Pleasant Hill station on Monday." Powers added that he's "disappointed how the situation unfolded," saying "we have to read each situation and allow people to get where they are going on time and safely." And he writes, "I apologize to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video."
Powers does not let Foster off scot-free, though, as KPIX notes. He says that Foster "refused to provide identification, [and] cursed at and made homophobic slurs at the officer who remained calm through out the entire engagement."
Foster told KPIX that he thought he was singled out because of his race, and says, "I don’t regret any of it, but I could’ve expressed myself a little better."
BART Board member Janice Li attended the "eat-in" protest on Saturday, and she tells the Examiner, "It does seriously concern me that another young black man was involved in a police incident." She says she was "surprised" by Powers' apology, and she adds, "I’m not going to talk about this incident in particular, but using BART police to intensely enforce eating and drinking is not making our system more safe, reliable or clean."