- Steve Foster was detained and cited at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Walnut Creek, California, on November 4.
- BART police said Foster violated state law by eating a sandwich on the platform.
- Foster told KTVU that he thinks he was detained because he is black and that that the officer who stopped him should be disciplined.
- His detainment prompted eat-in protests across the BART system over the weekend.
BART’s general manager, Bob Powers, issued a statement about the incident in which he apologised to Foster.
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Police detained and cited a black man in California after an officer stopped him on a Bay Area Rapid Transit platform because he was eating a sandwich.
BART police said that Steve Foster, of Concord, broke state law by eating on the platform at the Pleasant Hill Station in Walnut Creek on November 4, KTVU reported.
His detainment prompted eat-in protests across the BART system on Saturday, where passengers filmed themselves eating on platforms to support Foster, according to ABC7.
Foster, who goes by the name Bill Gluckman on Facebook, posted footage of the incident that his girlfriend filmed.
In the clip, a BART police officer, identified as D. McCormick, can be seen holding on to Foster’s backpack before calling for backup and escorting him off the platform. McCormick told Foster he was being detained for resisting arrest.
Foster’s girlfriend can be heard questioning the officer’s decision and telling him that signs in the area say food is prohibited on the BART trains, not on the platforms. Officers later told her that food was prohibited on all BART property, including platforms.
Foster told KTVU that he was frustrated by the incident.
“I’ve never had anything like that happen to me before. I’ve definitely had run-ins with the police before, but that was by far the pettiest,” Foster said, describing the detainment as “childish.”
‘I was singled out because I was black’
McCormick told Foster’s girlfriend that he was initially looking for an intoxicated woman when he saw Foster eating and stopped him instead.
Foster told KTVU that he regularly eats his breakfast while waiting for the BART to take him to his job in San Francisco.
He said he wanted the officer who stopped him to be disciplined.
“I think he really needs to know that he can’t approach people the way he did or talk to people the way he did just because he has a badge,” Foster told KTVU. “I think I was singled out because I was black, to be honest.”
“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,” it said.
The transit organisation told KTVU that Foster was “not cooperative.”
“The individual was not cooperative and was refusing to provide his name, which is needed for a citation and is why the engagement lasted as long as it did,” a BART representative told the outlet.
BART’s general manager apologised to Foster in a statement
BART’s general manager, Bob Powers, issued a statement about the incident, saying: “I’m disappointed how the situation unfolded. I apologise to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video.”
Powers said that he had watched the video of Foster’s detainment. He said there are “multiple signs” warning passengers against eating in BART areas, including platforms.
“The officer asked the rider not to eat while he was on the platform 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,” Powers said. “The individual refused to provide identification, cursed at and made homophobic slurs at the officer who remained calm through out the entire engagement.”
Powers said the officer involved “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,” he said. “We have to read each situation and allow people to get where they are going on time and safely.”
Foster faces a $US250 fine and 48 hours of community service, but he told KTVU he planned to fight the citation and was considering suing.
Foster and BART did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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