BARTing while homeless: Charles Blair Hill is the latest BART police assassination target


by mesha Monge-Irizarry, Idriss Stelley Foundation

On July 3, 2011, at 9:45 p.m., a 45-year-old scruffy looking man of European descent — only identified eight days later through his driver’s license picture as Charles Blair Hill, described ad nauseam by the corporate press as a “wobbly drunk” and a “crazy hippy” — met a violent fate on a San Francisco Civic Center BART platform at the hands of two BART thugs in blue, one white and one Asian. Three bullet casings were recovered on the platform, and Charles was declared dead at San Francisco General Hospital an hour later.

Merely BARTing while homeless and possibly intoxicated, just two hours before Independence Day, has now become a justifiable death sentence on the street in the home of the brave and the land of the free.

The people of San Francisco will not stay silent on any BART police killings!

Eight days later, on July 11 at 5 p.m., in commemoration of Charles’ stolen life at the hands of the BART police, an estimated crowd of 200 civil rights protesters — not 60 to 80, as estimated by the corporate press — of all races, ages and economic backgrounds descended en masse to the Civic Center BART platform where Charles was executed like a rabid dog. There we met a barrage of hundreds of cops in full riot gear — some flanked with huge K9 dogs, pre-civil rights style — while we chanted: “No justice, no peace! Cops, pigs, dismantle the BART police!”

Quiet as kept, Charles Hill’s killing by BART police is the fifth since 1992

Those who are relatively new to the Bay Area may not know that this is the fifth BART police killing. All have been people of color with the exception of Charles Hill.

In the previous cases, BART’s internal investigations concluded that the officers felt threatened by the victims and were justified in pulling the trigger. That excuse is unbelievable given the circumstances of the killings:

  • In 1992, 19-year-old African American Jerrold Hall — only son of Cornelius Hall, who at the time was the fire chief of Oakland — was shot in the back by a BART officer as he tried to leave the parking lot of a station. The officer was responding to reports of an armed robbery and said he suspected that Hall and a friend were involved. The officer tried to detain the two. Hall ran, and the officer shot him in the back and killed him. Hall was unarmed, but the officer said he thought Hall was on his way to get a gun and return for a showdown. Jerrold’s assassin later committed suicide.
  • In 1997, Robert Greer died from an alleged “fall” after being taken into BART police custody.
  • In 2001, an African American schizophrenic man, Bruce Seward, was the next victim of the rogue force. Seward, 42, was naked and had been sleeping on a bench outside the BART station when an officer approached him. Seward had grabbed the officer’s nightstick at one point and there were several options for subduing him, but instead, the officer shot and killed him. At the time, two weeks before the San Francisco Police Department killing of my own son, Idriss Stelley, a 23-year-old African American student, I had the opportunity to listen to an archived audiotape of that homicide investigation. In an excerpt, the investigator asks the BART officer, “So, you felt you had to kill the suspect?” The cop replies, “Dunno, he just had this look on his face like he wanted me to shoot him.”
  • On Jan. 1, 2009, an African American youth, Oscar Grant, was assassinated while already handcuffed and lying face down on the platform by BART officer Johannes Mehserle, who was released from custody on June 12, 2011, for “good behavior” following a substantial reduction of his incarceration for time already served from his indictment to the trial.
  • In July 17, 2010, BART police killed another African American man at the Fruitvale station, where they had killed Oscar Grant the previous year. He was identified as Fred Collins, 48, and initially described by BART as “Hispanic looking.” Witnesses watching from their windows said Collins was walking backwards with his hands up when he fell in a hail of bullets shot by at least five cops; 15 or more were reportedly on the scene.

‘At first I thought it was fireworks’

“At first I thought it was fireworks and we didn’t pay any attention,” said Edwin Li, a San Franciscan who was on a train stopped at the station when the shooting of Charles Blair Hill occurred. He got off the train and saw the two officers with Hill nearby on the ground. “There was this one girl who was kind of freaked out saying, ‘Oh my God, oh my God,’” said Li, adding, “There were people on the platform.”

The killing endangered the lives of innocent bystanders. Who do the BART police mean to serve and protect?

A BART commuter sent me a private message two nights ago, right after seeing Charles’ photo in SF Gate, the website for the San Francisco Chronicle: “Dear God! I knew him! I used to give him quarters all the time — sweet guy, he would not have hurt a fly!”

‘Nigger, say you wanna die! You know you wanna die; say it, nigger!’

A young African American man, husband of one of my staff at Hayward Emergency Shelter, where I was the program director in November 2001, jumped fare at South Hayward BART as he was late to go pick up his newborn baby from childcare. Four BART cops brought him to the ground and started hitting him with sticks. One was recording and kept yelling, “Nigger, say you wanna die! You know you wanna die; say it, nigger,” at him so that he could become yet another “Black suicide by cop.”

There were witnesses on the platform. The young brother started screaming: “No! My wife and I just had a beautiful baby boy. I don’t wanna die! Someone PLEASE call the police, the REAL police!”

The BART cops gave him a citation and let him go. He and his wife were so shaken by the occurrence that I had to conduct two emergency counseling sessions with them and an interactive “Know Your Rights” seminar with the entire family of the victim.

Commuters’ ‘upset’ is more important than a stolen, anonymous life

The corporate press whines on and on about the major delays and “distress” incurred as a result of the Stolen Lives protest at the Civic Center BART Station July 11 by the commuters who were trying to get home.

I am yet to read one word of compassion for Charles Hill’s grieving family. I wholeheartedly hope that his family members and friends do not read the hundreds of hateful, vilifying and degrading comments entered below the corporate press coverage of the killing. Assault compounding horror and injury will stab through the hearts of Charles’ family and friends each time they read “wobbly drunk” in reference to their loved one — a remark posted by cops on company time, budget and equipment and by their police culture lovers.

Alcohol is a legal drug. Late stage alcoholism is an illness, a disability, not a crime!

Yet another wasted, stolen life

Yet another wasted, stolen life — white this time, probably to the immense relief of law enforcement in that it dilutes allegations of longstanding illegal, racially biased policing.

Or would it be that on the BART plantation, the poor, Black, brown and the homeless are all the niggers of our world?

What message can we take from this killing: Don’t drink and BART if you prefer to stay alive?

I would like to understand how a distraught subject with unsteady balance could possibly “lunge” at an officer, allegedly with a broken vodka bottle in one hand and a knife in the other, without falling down in the process? I am a female, disabled elder and with the basic self-defense training I took, I, to this day, have no difficulty in quickly bringing to the ground any large aggressor with my cane.

‘Always shoot at center mass’

Police trainers advocate that one should not merely impair the fine motor skills of a subject while bringing him or her safely to the ground, hence protecting the subject from harming him or herself or nearby onlookers, but should “always shoot at center mass.” That is what I was taught for 15 weeks at my SFPD Academy citizens’ training in 2003.

 I am a female, disabled elder and with the basic self-defense training I took, I, to this day, have no difficulty in quickly bringing to the ground any large aggressor with my cane.

What happened with the much praised Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) modeled after the Memphis Police Department training?

More smoke, more mirrors, more assassinations

If you witness police misconduct and shoot pictures or a video with your cellphone, stay 10 feet away from the scene, loudly assert that you are “exercising your constitutional right to observe” and, if at all possible, take the chip out of your cell and hide it in your mouth after filming your evidence!

‘An injustice to one is an injustice to all’

Rest in glory, brother Charles. You will not be forgotten. One lingering regret: I never got a chance to give you a quarter, a ciggie or a sandwich with a bottle of water.

Police trainers advocate that one should not merely impair the fine motor skills of a subject while bringing him or her safely to the ground, hence protecting the subject from harming him or herself or nearby onlookers, but should “always shoot at center mass.”


Mesha Monge-Irizarry, mother of Idriss Stelley, who was murdered by San Francisco police June 13, 2001, heads the Idriss Stelley Foundation, the foremost Bay Area agency dedicated to police accountability. Contact her through the foundation’s bilingual crisis line at (415) 595-8251 or through Facebook.



    • You ain't joking Selina…. BART Police is a Homeland Security contract…. I heard John Avalos, the SF Mayoral candidate endorsed by both of my agencies (Education not Incarceration & Idriss Stelley Foundation), at a cookout campaign event for John in the backyard of the SF Bayview paper this evening. that as our next mayor, BART police will be totally out of his jurisdiction.

      So our next action should be at the Federal Building,
      and going to the DOJ in Washington !

  1. Patriot Act, Bush Administration….it really doesn't matter.

    We have put the kids that got beat up in high school and the ones that didn't have the brains to come up with a better career than jumping in front of bullets for $60K a year in charge of our safety.

    These guys got treated like crap and now they are taking it out on us. Power trips. Lack of training. Lack of brain cells. Lack of vertical growth in their nether-regions.

    I will support the movement to remove "BART" police from their duties. This is far to far out of hand and since several have died already it time to handle it now. Not after the 6th and 7th death.

    By the way…what happened to the officer dropping the "F-Bomb"? IMO, thats a no-no enough to have that entire force pulled off of operation and re-evaluate our need for "rent a cops" with guns.

    Call your mayors office directly. Starting at 9am tomorrow.

    • Yeah, it has nothing to with how stupid blacks are, right? It is some bullied kids fault, right?

      Did you ever think that these BART people are sick of dealing with the trash of society? Is it their fault most of the trash is black? Here is an idea, act like a human & get treated like one. Act like an animal & get put down like one.

      It's amazing how stupid you people are…I guess that's why it's "Black" site. no more site hits from me. This site is trash, just like your culture.


  2. This site makes me laugh! All the dead black thugs gets my dick hard! HAHAHAHAHAHA

    Rot in Hell you animals! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    • If you attack police, you get what you deserve. I have a conceiled carry permit, and if I am attacked they are going to die. And I believe the story about the staffer's husband and the die nigger die almost as much as I believe tax cuts fot the rich create jobs. I would like to hear that recording from a credible source.

  3. As a journalist, you should probably lay off the first person point-of-view and subjectivity.

    I would probably have sided against the BART police but your clear bias against them, evident to any knowledged reader and opening the possibility of so much distortion, has left me questioning whether or not the criticism they draw is valid. I'm only teenager and now just think you are being whiny little children.
    For example: you admitted hat the husband of your staff member had jumped fare. Though legally it's a simple misdemeanor, you did mention that he did jump fare. Though I admit beating him might be harsh, after a while, even the police get tired and sick of such petty crimes. Heck, after all the criticism they face and pressure they're under, I really don't blame them. I understand that much. It's still his fault if HE jumped the fare and I appreciate their "zero-crap" policy right there, if anything. Some might say that, as in Gladwell's The Tipping Point, it's about stopping the crimes while they're still small. And what, was he going to argue that it was civil disobedience? Maybe they beat the fare-skipping out of him. Had he been an innocent bystander, well, fine. But no, he skipped fare.

    I'm sorry for those that lost loved ones to these incidents and they have my condolences, but you sometimes really can't know. To me, this is similar to the London police incident right now. To me, it seems people are making too big of a fuss and make it seem like they're making trouble because they have nothing else to do and wrecking things because now they have a "reason". Every questionable activity is called a "cover-up". From personal experience and from simply how stupid, for lack of a better word, people are, I know a lot of things do get distorted and mixed up. Even if wrong, several rotten eggs doesn't mean the entire batch is rotten.
    Even if you're right, talking about how stupid and dirty every single cop-who-is-only-working-for-that-60k(What? They don't make that much)-and-most-definitely-not-for-your-safety is and working without reason and true evidence will get you nowhere.

    • fuck you you fucking coward.. you kkk fags are scared to take on the public.. you white nazi bastards are the minority!!! you run to the cops .. you scary faggot ..

  4. How is a mass protest going to bring this person's life back? Push your congressional individuals for reform. Attack the system, not just a tiny entity of it. Unfortunately, protests do not amount to "peaceable assembly." To rise up positively in our current society doesn't seem possible when too many educated and uneducated individuals find it necessary to use weapons. Guns and knives. Look at your Constitution people and make sure to review the Bill of Rights.

  5. So how is that change working out for you? Seems like the fascism is accelerating not the other way around. Feeling a little snookered are we? Too bad people are having to pay for it with their lives so that white liberals can sit around eating $35,000 dinners. At least we know there is equality; a black president can be just as corrupt and in the pockets of the banksters as a white one.

    No peace without prosperity. Vote Ron Paul.

  6. If he was coming at you with a knife would you want the cops to take action or think about what to do.
    oops you're dead now someone can protest that

  7. Thugs? Really? The man threw a vodka bottle at the officers and then came at them weidling a knife! What if he had done this to a citizen? Oh, I bet everyone would be up in arms about where were the BART police? Dumb! The man was a vagrant and assaulted Police officers and came at them w/ a deadly weapon. Obviously he wasn't in his right mind but really? To say, 'Merely BARTing while homeless and possibly intoxicated, just two hours before Independence Day, has now become a justifiable death sentence on the street in the home of the brave and the land of the free.", is laughable. Let's just leave out the part where he threw a glass vodka bottle at the officers and then came running at them w/ a knife.

  8. Your censorship of what really happened as Charles HIll is as bad as Faux news reporting incidents. The man had threw a glass bottle at the officers and charged them with a knife. You call him your brother? For all you know he could have been a racist pig.

  9. This rampant BART police abuse is so true. One time, I was just sitting there, eating a Twinkie, when the BART police came up to me and without provocation, tazed me, shot me, and clubbed me. Just because I am an Eskimo. When I returned to Bay Point, where I live in my igloo (which is constantly melting) they followed me in there and continued to beat me without provocation. When I flew back to Alaska to visit my relatives, BART police accosted me at the airport and beat me again. I have a nephew who is currently serving in Afghanistan, and while he was on a patrol in the Kandahar region, BART police suddenly came up from behind him and beat him too. My other cousin is an astronaut and while aboard the space station, he said BART police were waiting for him there too to beat him up.

  10. Howdy! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having difficulty finding one? Thanks a lot!

  11. Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog based on the same information you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

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