A viral video of Black man being detained and harassed by a police officer at a BART station in San Francisco for eating a sandwich sparked outrage and an eat-in protest.
As KTLA reported, Steve Foster was threatened with arrest after an officer became triggered by the sight of him eating a breakfast sandwich on the platform.
“You’re eating. It’s against the law,” officer D. McCormick told Foster while holding onto his bag. The video was filmed by Steve’s girlfriend. “You’re going to jail,” McCormick added.
“For eating a fu*king sandwich?” Foster fired back. He was not taken to jail, but Foster was placed in handcuffed and given a citation at the Pleasant Hill BART station.
“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,” BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said of the incident. “The individual was not cooperative and was not providing his identification which is needed for a citation and is why the engagement lasted as long as it did.”
The head of a San Francisco Bay Area commuter train system, Bob Powers, apologized to Foster and said in a statement: “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.”
While eating is not allowed in paid portions of stations, BART officials said Monday that this rule should not be used to prevent people from getting to work on time, KTLA.com reports.
More than two dozen people staged an “eat-in” at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station over the weekend in response to the Foster incident.
After the video went viral, San Francisco residents hit up the Embarcadero station to protest the arrest by eating food, and many labelled the officer’s handling of the situation as a racist abuse of power.
Peep the Twitter embed pics/videos within this post of the eat-in protest.
“I’ve got my lunch here, it’s very threatening as you can see,” commuter JJ Naughton joked to ABC7.
BART Board of Directors member Janice Li was also on the scene to show her support.
“I realize some things are illegal with our penal code, but I want to be mindful of how we’re using resources to enforce our system,” said Li.
Another protest is reportedly planned for the weekend, called “Eat a McMuffin on BART: They Can’t Stop Us All.”
According to ABC 7, BART leaders are divided over the controversial encounter.
“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.