BART riders hold lunchtime 'eat-in' protest after man detained for eating sandwich on train platform

A man was detained by transit police for eating a sandwich on a train platform.

LOS ANGELES -- Subway riders hosted a lunchtime "eat-in" protest in San Francisco Monday after a viral video showed a man being handcuffed and detained last week by transit police for eating a sandwich on a train platform.

Steve Foster told San Francisco ABC station KGO that the officer passed other people who were also eating and drinking in the area but singled him out.

"I was just up there eating a sandwich waiting for my train to come," said Foster.

He was then handcuffed and detained.

"He was handcuffed once he refused to provide identification. He was cited and released once he provided identification," said a BART representative in a statement.

Bob Powers, Bay Area Rapid Transit's general manager, said Monday that Foster was warned by an officer not to eat in the marked area because it was illegal. When he returned, and Foster was still eating, he asked for identification. He refused and began cursing at the officer and using homophobic slurs, which Foster admitted to KGO.

In response to the incident, members of the public shared their frustration by engaging in an "eat-in" protest at BART’s Embarcadero station platform. Kelly Groth organized the Brunch on BART event.

"I’m definitely upset, mad, a little frustrated. Still kind of angry about it," said Foster.

Groth handed out breakfast sandwiches and the group ate together on the platform.

"Over the years we’ve seen a surge of people videotaping police abusing power and targeting black and brown folks. People are holding them accountable for their actions since the murder of Oscar Grant in 2009," said Groth.

Oscar Grant, 22, was an unarmed black man shot and killed by a BART police officer in Oakland on New Year’s Day in 2009. The shooting incident was made into an Oscar-nominated movie, "Fruitvale Station," starring Michael B. Jordan.

Janice Li, a member of the BART Board of Directors also attended the event to speak to the public. She brought food to share -- Chinese egg clusters and barbecued pork buns.

"I attended because I was disturbed when I saw that video," Li said. She is also friends with Groth.

She shared that she wants to use her position to build a better system by listening to their riders, and acting as a resource.

"In my past, I’ve had issues with police departments and law enforcement, so to see incidents like this is really disturbing to me. I want to be a resource and tell people what’s happening," Li said.

Li shared she is looking into what happened. The Office of Independent Police is investigating the incident and reviewing police body camera footage.

According to a BART representative, no one was detained or cited at the eat-in.

Powers issued a statement Monday afternoon addressing the citation and apologizing for how the situation unfolded. He mentioned the police auditor would report his findings to BART’s Citizen Board.

"I'm disappointed how the situation unfolded," Powers said in the statement. "I apologize to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video. I've spoken to our interim Police Chief about my feelings related to this incident and our Independent Police Auditor is conducting an independent investigation. He will report his findings to our Citizen Review Board."