Posted on November 14, 2019

BART Director Slams the Transport Company’s General Manager for Apologizing to Black Man Arrested for Eating a Sandwich on California Train Platform

Luke Kenton and Chris Dyer, Daily Mail, November 13, 2019

BART Bay Area Rapid Transit

The director of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has hit out at the firm’s general manager, branding his apology to a man handcuffed for eating a sandwich on a station platform as ‘humiliating’.

Transit cops in the Bay Area were filmed handcuffing 31-year-old Steve Foster for eating a sandwich while waiting to board a subway at Pleasant Hill Station in Walnut Creek, California, on Monday last week.

An officer was seen in the video appearing to grab Foster, who is black, holding onto his rucksack as the passenger pleaded to be let go.

After public outrage was sparked when a clip of the incident went viral online, BART General Manager Robert Powers issued an apology to Foster, insisting ‘Enforcement of infractions, such as eating and drinking inside our paid area, should not be used to prevent us from delivering on our mission to provide safe, reliable, and clean transportation.’

‘I apologize to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video,’  Powers continued.

However, on Tuesday, BART Director Debora Allen voiced outrage over the incident once more – but this time the scorn was aimed at Powers, rather than the officer.

‘I think that our police officer, in this case, acted exactly the way he is expected to. To uphold the law. The whole thing has been rather humiliating to our police force that our General Manager reacted this way,’ said BART Director Debora Allen

The Police Union also issued a statement in defense of the officer, who they said acted calmly and professionally when he advised Foster of ‘the prohibition against eating in the paid area of the station.’

‘Unfortunately Foster immediately became hostile and belligerent,’ the Union continued.

Foster, however, remains adamant that the officer overreacted and has also rejected Foster’s apology as he explores his legal options.

And a number of ‘eat-in’ protests have been scheduled for this weekend in solidarity with Foster, who many believe was wrongfully detained.

One Facebook event encouraging a ‘McMuffin eat-in’ is titled: ‘Eat a McMuffin on BART: They Can’t Stop Us All.’

So far 528 people have said they are going to participate and a further 1,600 have said they are interested.

And Janice Li, who represents part of San Francisco on BART’s board of directors, said: ‘To see yet another young black man impacted by law enforcement like this is extremely troubling to me.

‘This is a question of what we are putting our BART police towards. We know how to make the system better and safer, and this ain’t it.’

Police in California are now being investigated after the three white officers were seen arresting the man, identified in the video as Steve Rogers, for eating on a train platform.

The incident happened at around 8am last Monday and a footage was posted on social media on Friday, sparking controversy.

An officer was seen in the video holding onto Rogers’ rucksack as he pleaded to be let go.

The 31-year-old questioned why he was being detained and not any other passengers waiting at the Pleasant Hill Station in Walnut Creek, California.

He can be heard in the footage saying: ‘You came here and busted me. Why did you single me out, out of all these people?’

The officer replied by pointing to the sandwich and saying: ‘You’re eating. It’s against the law, it’s a violation of California law. I have the right to detain you.’

At the start of the video, Foster, who goes by the name Bill Gluckman on Facebook, waved his sandwich to the camera, adding, ‘I’m on BART’, before the person filming replied, ‘You’re not even on BART’.

The officer then said: ‘I just explained to you that you are detained. You’re detained and you are not free to go. I have a right to detain you.’

Foster replied: ‘No you don’t. I’ve done nothing wrong. Can you please let my s*** go. Let my backpack go.’

He can be heard calling for backup and demanding Foster show him some ID before threatening to jail him for resisting arrest.

Foster says: ‘I’m not going to jail for eating a f****** sandwich.’

‘No, you’re going to jail for resisting arrest’, the officer replied.

‘You’re going to end up going to jail today, my man’, he added as he held onto the strap of Foster’s bag.

The woman filming the exchange could be heard asking the officer why there were no signs telling customers they could not eat on the platform.

Foster then says, ‘I don’t feel detained, I feel harassed. I see people eating and drinking coffee every day and you single me out, why?

Looking at the camera, he added: ‘He [the officer] came all the way down the platform to single me out for eating a sandwich.’

After the officer and Foster continued to argue, another three BART officers arrived on the platform, made him turn around, and handcuffed him.

As Foster was led away he shouted: ‘Four cops for eating a sandwich. Ain’t nobody resisting. It’s against the law to eat?’

The officers led him to a bench and while there a newly arrived officer claimed someone matching his description had caused a ‘disturbance’ on the platform.

But in a separate video while speaking just to the woman with Foster, the first officer, identified as D. McCormick by his uniform, could be heard saying he was notified of a woman on the platform who was possibly ‘intoxicated’.

Writing on Facebook, alongside the two videos, Foster wrote: ‘Just out of curiosity.. has anybody ever got arrested and written a ticket for eating a breakfast sandwich on a Bart platform at 8:00 in the morning. Nobody? Just me? Okay.’

On Friday BART clarified the situation in a tweet and said that despite being handcuffed, Foster was only issued a citation.

The tweet read: ‘No matter how you feel about eating on BART, the officer saw someone eating and asked him to stop, when he didn’t he was given a citation.’

Rebecca Saltzman, BART Board Vice President, said the the incident was being investigated.

On Sunday, fellow passengers launched a ‘eat-in’ protest by eating their lunch on the platform, with around 30 people taking part.

The passenger told ABC7: ‘I’m definitely upset, mad, a little frustrated, angry about it. I was just up there eating my sandwich waiting for the train to come.

‘I think I was singled out because I was black, to be honest,’ said Foster.

She told The San Francisco Examiner: ‘BART’s independent police auditor received a complaint about this and is reviewing. I and other BART directors are following up with management about this.’

Janice Li, a member of BART’s Board of Directors, condemned the officers.

Li told the newspaper: ‘To see yet another young black man impacted by law enforcement like this is extremely troubling to me.

‘This is a question of what we are putting our BART police towards. We know how to make the system better and safer, and this ain’t it.’

The passenger faces a $250 fine and 48 hours of community service and said plans to fight the ticket.