SAN FRANCISCO — BART riders angered by a viral video showing a man being handcuffed and cited by police for eating as he waited for a train staged an “eat-in” protest at Embarcadero Station on Saturday.
Photos and videos posted to Twitter showed about a dozen people, including BART Director Janice Li, eating sandwiches and pork buns on the station’s platform, in a protest against the Nov. 4 arrest at the Pleasant Hill station that is now being investigated.
— Tone Oliver (@ToneOliver) November 8, 2019
Videos of the encounter have racked up more than 1 million views on Facebook and Twitter since they were posted Friday. They show a man, identified by KTVU as Steve Foster of Concord, being stopped and later handcuffed by BART police officers as he holds a sandwich.
When Foster accuses an officer of singling him out, the officer replies, “You’re eating.”
Agency officials said video of the encounter has been sent to the independent auditor who oversees BART police, as well as the department’s chief.
BART said the man was stopped for eating in the system, which is against state law, and that Foster was handcuffed when he refused to provide his name for the citation.
To many who sharply criticized the BART officer’s actions, though, the encounter seemed to be a racially motivated case of an overzealous officer policing a rule many riders don’t think twice about breaking. Foster told KTVU he believed he was stopped because he is black. The officer who stopped him is white.
Others complained that BART has problems that are far more important than people eating while on trains and platforms.
BART officials did not immediately respond Saturday afternoon to questions about how many citations the agency issues for eating in the system.