Shocking video shows San Francisco commuters walking through a BART station filled with drug abusers
Commuter Shannon Gafford took videos of the surprising scene showing people openly taking hard drugs inside a San Francisco BART station as other commuters pass by.
On Thursday, members of the BART Board of Directors were stunned after watching footage showing junkies fearlessly shooting up intravenous drugs in a corridor at the Civic Center Station, captured by KPIX 5.
Although the board members were horrified after witnessing the video, it is unclear as to what the authorities are going to do to rectify the situation on platforms.
Every morning, daily commuters have to walk down the corridor infested with the people abusing hard drugs at the Civic Center BART and Muni station, as seen in the footage captured by commuter Shannon Gafford.
The video appeared to show a group of semiconscious men and women, some slumped over and others shooting up, and some vomiting - on both sides of the hallway.
“Every day. Every morning, 5.30 to 6am you can see there’s dozens of them. Needles everywhere. Crack. Heroin,” Shannon Gafford, who shot the video, told CBS San Francisco.
Members of the BART Board were asked by KPIX 5 about how they planned on solving the issue. In response, they were vague and uncertain if there was a quick fix.
BART Director Bevan Dufty, the man responsible for Civic Center Station, said, “You know, this is a very sobering video to see. I am, frankly, glad the rider has shared this."
He acknowledged that viewing such a dire scene every morning discourages quite a few commuters from using the BART transit system.
“We’re losing some riders, and I know it’s because of these circumstances,” said Dufty. “And so we’re going to work very hard to see a change.”
BART Police Lt. Gil Lopez was asked by the news outlet what it would take to have someone patrol the platform to prevent such open acts of drug abuse. Lopez quickly answered, "Well, obviously staffing."
Lopez is in charge of police patrols for BART in four downtown stations of San Francisco.
“Here in downtown our beat structure is basically two officers for two stations,” explained Lopez.
He said that there is just not enough personnel to manage the challenges brought on by homelessness and drugs, with two disasters occurring on parallel tracks above the stations.
Maurice Benton, a shelter resident who lives nearby, said that he has seen officers try really hard to tackle these issues on the ground. Often, while chasing one problem that requires more personnel, some stations are left completely unattended or guarded.
“It’s too widespread. Like I say the officers here, they’re busy every day,” said Benton. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen them. I come through here different times a day; first time seeing them.”
As of the moment, BART is trying to hire as many employees as possible in order to address such problems, but in doing that, the transit agency is facing another major issue.
“BART has not been the most attractive place for candidates to be police officers to go. We’re trying to change that,” said Dufty.
The city is trying to offer more help until BART has enough independent personnel, for now
“I have seen homeless outreach come down here to offer services,” said Benton.
Mark Farrell, the mayor of San Francisco, vowed to make sure something gets done.
“The situation in our BART stations is simply unacceptable,” he told the station. “Borders on disastrous.”
Having said that, looking at the bigger picture, the ongoing drug crisis that bedevils the city is seeming too daunting for BART and the city to handle alone.
Lopez agreed when he was asked if the problem had gotten significantly worse of late.
“Yes, it has,” said Lopez.
According to Dufty, an increased presence of law enforcement is the go-to fix for now.
“I know that riders want to see more visible presence that is a deterrent, and I want people to know this is a priority to us as BART, and me as the director responsible for this station,” said Dufty.