BART Spokesperson Defends Decision To Restrict First Amendment Rights (VIDEO)

Brian Copeland (left), host of 7 Live, has to ask BART Spokesperson Linton Johnson (right) to stop interrupting him during an interview regarding the constitutionality of BART blocking cell phone service.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit Agency, or BART for short is receiving criticism for a recent decision to block cell phone reception on their platforms, after an incident with protesters temporarily interrupted BART service to one of its stations last month. The protesters were originally  protesting because of the July 3rd shooting of 45 year-old Charles Hill by 2 BART Police officers.  BART has said that they blocked cell phone reception to prevent people from organizing to protest at their stations.

In retaliation to the Agency’s actions, the hacker group “Anonymous” hacked the website, and posted the personal information and passwords of BART passengers.

The ACLU and other groups believe that BART’s actions were unconstitutional, and infringe on American’s right to free speech.

According to the ACLU’s statement;

All over the world people are using mobile devices to organize protests against repressive regimes, and we rightly criticize governments that respond by shutting down cell service, calling their actions anti-democratic and a violation of the rights to free expression and assembly. Are we really willing to tolerate the same silencing of protest here in the United States?

BART’s actions were glaringly small-minded as technology and the ability to be connected have many uses. Imagine if someone had a heart attack on the train when the phones were blocked and no one could call 911.

And where do we draw the line? These protestors were using public transportation to get to the demonstration — should the government be able to shut that down too?

Shutting down access to mobile phones is the wrong response to political protests, whether it’s halfway around the world or right here at home. The First Amendment protects everybody’s right to free expression, and when the government responds to people protesting against it by silencing them, it’s dangerous to democracy.

BART Chief Spokesperson Linton Johnson went on 7 Live today, a Bay Area News/Commentary program, to defend his decision to restrict people’s first Amendment rights. Brian Copeland conducted an excellent interview, despite the rudeness of Linton, and refused to back down about the dangers of restricting free speech. Instead of denying that free speech had been encroached upon, Linton defended BART’s decision to restrict people’s first amendment rights, on the grounds that someone at some point may be able to use their cell phone for something which may lead to some sort of violent act. His reasoning was very vague, and Copeland continually pointed out the logical fallacy in his reasoning.

Copeland pointed out that the possibility of one potentially dangerous incident or person doesn’t grant BART the right to restrict the free speech of every single person on the platform, but Linton continued to defend the BART Agency’s decision.

What the full interview here, and see if you think Linton Johnson, the BART spokesperson acts rude and irrational: