BART Reopens Fruitvale Station; Fare-Evading Protesters Hit S.F.

Carolyn Jones, Matthew B. Stannard, Jill Tucker, Rachel Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 31, 2008

BART closed three East Bay stations for a time this morning, one of them twice, after hundreds of youths jumped fare gates on their way to a protest in San Francisco against federal immigration policies, authorities said.

The Fruitvale and Coliseum stations in Oakland and the Richmond station were all closed starting about 9:15 a.m. as the youths evaded fares. All three reopened by 10:30 a.m., but BART closed the Fruitvale station for a second time from about 11 a.m. to just before noon as more youths jumped the gates.

When the station reopened, security officers with dogs stood watch to make sure everyone paid.

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The protesters were heading to a rally at Ferry Park on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, where they began a noontime march through the Financial District opposing enforcement actions taken by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The protest briefly tied up traffic on several streets but was peaceful.

One of the protest organizers, Sagnicthe Salazar, said she had been told that three students were detained at the Richmond BART station while “trying to peacefully get to the action in San Francisco.”

Salazar, who is with an East Bay youth organization called Huaxtex, acknowledged that protesters were jumping fare gates. She said the demonstrators were organized independently and had no funding.

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At the rally in Ferry Park, protesters said the BART ride from the East Bay was tense as students delaying trains argued with commuters and other passengers.

“This was a peaceful protest. We were not trying to start anything,” said Kenya Ramirez, 17, who traveled from San Diego for the rally. “We were just trying to get our message out. Our message is civil disobedience.”

She said the students held train doors open at several stations so fare jumpers could get on board.

“The other people were getting upset because they had someplace to go,” she said. “We’re doing it for them. They were being a little selfish.”

Students from Oakland’s Leadership Charter School, Richmond High School and Contra Costa Community College were among the roughly 400 protesters.

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