This post has been updated.
So let me get this straight: BART, which is a public transportation entity, and a government-owned and operated system, is looking to stop people from performing for spare change within the paid areas of its stations?
While BART board members pretty much control how all of this will play out in the coming weeks, with a vote on the matter scheduled for October, many of those who perform on BART aren’t sitting around quietly about it.
On Friday, Aug. 30, at 5pm at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, MC Tone Oliver is set to host an event called “I Ride With Buskers,” protesting the proposed ordinance that would ban busking or panhandling in the paid areas of BART property.
Although the proposal, introduced by BART Board Director Debora Allen, is far from a vote, let alone implementation, the conversation around her suggestion has ruffled a few feathers.
Allen officially announced the proposal last week, not too long after an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle spotlighted Tone Oliver and others who perform on BART. In response to Allen’s announcement, people took to social media to voice their concerns. One user, whose tweet Allen retweeted, created a survey of BART riders’ concerns, which reportedly showed that less than three percent of those surveyed listed panhandling as a top concern. Of the 100 people surveyed, the majority said cleanliness on BART was the most major concern.
That’s the court of public opinion. In the real courts, attorney Abre' Conner of the ACLU published a letter stating that her organization would sue BART if the proposed ordinance were to pass, arguing it would violate people’s first amendment rights.