No Justice, No Piece of the Pie

Article by Dain Fitzgerald.


Protesters from the it’s-so-fun-to-wreak-havoc-together outfit “No Justice, No BART” disrupted BART trains’ operation in several San Francisco stations the other day, to the chagrin of the day’s commuters. Or at least I presume it was to their chagrin: Oddly, none were interviewed in the accounts I’ve read.

Shortly after the commencement of leave-work time, a motley mob of chuckleheads, militant college kids, and happenstance hipsters stormed a number of stations downtown, prompting police to prevent travelers from entering said stations and contributing to an overflow nightmare and subsequent third-rail politics. Though by 8PM all appeared to be calm in this palm-tree-laden California city (possessing, ironically, perhaps the nation’s most frigid summers), the event managed to leave in its wake even more litter than was already present in SF, a truly miraculous feat.

“Evidently it’s not merely about calling out a state crime, but rather the implementation of a redistributive regime complete with community-development plans and perhaps even some midnight basketball or a spiffy new recreation center.”

This protest action comes hot on the heels of a shooting by BART police of one Charles Hill, allegedly armed with a knife and broken bottle, combative, and drunk beyond reason. Yeah, they killed him. But NJNB’s roots go deeper, to the aftermath of the highly publicized 2009 Oscar Grant shooting by BART cops. NJNB apparently sees enough similarity in the two cases—both were shot by The Man, you see—to warrant a full-blown list of demands of BART that go beyond individual justice on behalf of two unruly nobodies to, as you might have guessed, Social JusticeTM. They insist that:

The BART Board must implement and fund economic development and youth programs to repair relationships with communities of color!

Evidently it’s not merely about calling out a state crime, but rather the implementation of a redistributive regime complete with community-development plans and perhaps even some midnight basketball or a spiffy new recreation center. This smacks of an extortion racket, so we should expect the disruptions to continue until such demands, all of them ending with a self-righteously infantile exclamation point, are met.

This is all quite rich coming from a group caught shouting racial slurs at BART’s black head (excuse the acne-scarred turn of phrase), Mr. Linton Johnson:

As he spoke to reporters, several white protesters called Johnson, who is African American, “Uncle Tom,” and a “self-conflicted blackie.”

Really—“blackie”? Is someone taking their cue from the boorish denizens of Scotland?

Charles Hill was—and still mostly is, until the decomposition process kicks in—a white guy. So it looks as if NJNB are color-blind shakedown artists, at least in this case, but touting their anti-racist bona fides through payola ultimatums to depressed “communities of color”—all of which apparently suffer from BART personnel’s fascistic activities—wins them major cool points in their Bay Area brethren’s eyes.

NJNB demands investigations into BART police actions even as their street squads relentlessly shout “Pig!” and “Murderer!,” prompting those of us with rudimentary bullshit-detection skills to infer that for this group the results of such investigations are a foregone conclusion. One report notes the incessant chanting of “We are all Charles Hill,” a clumsy attempt to power-weld a spiritual bond between your run-of-the-mill nine-to-fiver and a belligerent, possibly mentally ill public drunk.

This kind of collective ejaculation of social-justice solidarity has long been routine ’round these parts, a stand-in for what in other times and places would be considered a religious ritual. It’s no Ashura festival, but much like the Shiite Muslim tradition there is a martyr at its heart, though in the case of NJNB, Muhammad’s grandson has been replaced by a boozed-up lumpenproletariat fashion victim sporting a tie-dyed T-shirt and Army fatigues.

If NJNB really wants to rid itself of Bay Area (not so) Rapid (after all) Transit’s purported tyranny, it would be demanding autonomy for the communities of color it purports to speak for, not some scheme that invites them to dictate how such community development will play out. “With shekels come shackles,” as the saying goes, and before you know it, NJNB’s ethos is compromised by the promise of dollars and the privileges of the purse. But one suspects that secession is too radical—and requires too much responsibility.

From the comments sections below of many of these reports you can’t miss the annoyance felt by those who suffered collateral damage—i.e., those neither police nor protestor. There is every indication they do not believe themselves to be Charles Hill writ large, contra the morally indignant mob’s screeching proclamations. If anything, their relationship to this man is one of parasite and host, with the latter increasingly captive to a particularly odious breed of special-interest group observed flourishing most fruitfully along western North America’s ocean shorelines.


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