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Police arrest about 25 in San Francisco transit station demonstration
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ' Some 50 protesters angry over a fatal shooting at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station faced off with police during Thursday evening's commute, leaving about 25 people arrested and a San Francisco downtown station shut down.
"Officers determined that demonstrators were creating unsafe conditions for customers trying to enter and exit the fare gates," said BART spokesman Jim Allison.
A group calling itself No Justice, No BART said it organized the protest to call attention to the July 3 shooting of a 45-year-old man whom BART police said was shot after he lunged at officers with a knife.
Protests over the shooting a month ago prompted BART to cut wireless communications to some stations to curtail demonstrations, a move that touched off even more protest and widespread debate over free speech issues.
Police were still compiling the exact number of arrests made Thursday at the Powell Street station.
Among the protesters cuffed and led away by police were Christopher Cantor, a 35-year-old protest leader from Oakland who goes by the name Krystof Lopaur, Christian Ream, 27, of San Francisco, and Mario Fernandez, 27, of Oakland, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"We weren't violating any laws, weren't causing an obstruction," detainee Rick Altieri, 23, told the newspaper. "There was no communication between police and protesters, no warning at all," he told the newspaper.
One Chronicle reporter and several student journalists were also detained briefly,
The arrests were made under the authority of a California law that prohibits interfering with the safe operation of a railroad, Allison said.
The station, which had been closed to passengers around 6 p.m. Thursday, was reopened again by 7:30 p.m. During the closure, trains were still travelling through the station, but were not stopping to drop off or pick up passengers. Service was not impacted at other stations, according to BART officials.
The protest group had said on its website that it had hoped to force the transit agency to open the fare gates to accommodate the crush of protesters.