ONN – Bob Powers BART General Manager apologized to Steve Foster in the “Black Man Arrest For Eating Sandwich” incident, but that’s not enough. Bob Powers must remove California Penal Code Section 640 (2) (b) (1) is the law, and it reads “This section shall apply only to acts committed on or in a facility or vehicle of a public transportation system. (b) (1) Eating or drinking in or on a system facility or vehicle in areas where those activities are prohibited by that system,” and replace it with simple “no littering” language. Let’s review.
After the “White BART Police Officer D. McCormick Detaines Black Steve Foster For Eating A Sandwich” incident that originally occurred on Monday, November 4th, 2019, but became news after Steve Foster posted his video (presented as part of the vlog, below) on his Facebook Profile Page, there was a giant public outcry.
That compelled Bob Powers, the BART General Manager, to pen this statement of apology:
BART General Manager Bob Powers issued the following statement:
“Moving 415,000 riders each day comes with complexities and there are laws in place to keep our system safe, welcoming, and clean.
I’ve seen the video of the incident involving a man eating on our platform and our police response. Eating in the paid area is banned and there are multiple signs inside every station saying as much. 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.
The officer asked the rider not to eat while he was on the platfrom responding to another call. It should have ended there, but it didn’t. Mr. Foster did not stop eating and the officer moved forward with the process of issuing him a citation.* The individual refused to provide identification, cursed at and made homophobic slurs at the officer who remained calm through out the entire engagement.
The officer was doing his job but context is key. 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. We have to read each situation and allow people to get where they are going on time and safely.
I’m disappointed how the situation unfolded. I apologize to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video.
I’ve spoken to our interim Police Chief about my feelings related to this incident and our Independent Police Auditor is conducting an independent investigation. He will report his findings to our Citizen Review Board.”
*This statement was amended at 4pm on November 11 to remove the part about the officer passing by and walking by again. The officer involved clarified to staff he didn’t walk by because the platform was too crowded. The statement originally stated: “The officer asked the rider not to eat while passing by on another call. It should have ended there, but it didn’t. When the officer walked by again and still saw him eating, he moved forward with the process of issuing him a citation.” The statement was updated to read: The officer asked the rider not to eat while he was on the platfrom responding to another call. It should have ended there, but it didn’t. Mr. Foster did not stop eating and the officer moved forward with the process of issuing him a citation.
But that effort does not go far enough.
Look, the BART environment where another white police black passenger encounter could take place still exists. The law is and has been applied disproportionally against black BART riders, and white BART riders are given the ultimate pass of all: police indifference to their actions of eating or drinking or holding a coffee cup in a station.
BART Police are given the chance to use their own judgment, but why? It’s already proven that is based on race and also sex. What happened to Steve Foster, happened to me in 1993 and just for a sip of coffee on the way to work, while a white blonde woman was allowed to walk by because she had coffee – but didn’t sip it.
What if it was medicine I was taking just to relieve joint pain so I could walk? What if it happened to be a meal that was the difference between walking and passing out? If you can’t see this whole deal is completely stupid, you need your head examined.
The best way to stop this is for the “eating and drinking” law to be removed, and replaced with one that only refers to littering. That will end this crap, once and for all.
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