Videos posted on Facebook turned into a saga of protest as a black man named Steve Foster was arrested and fined for eating a sandwich on a railway station platform in California on November 8.
As the video of his confrontation with the police went viral, social media users were quick to point out the unnecessary nature of the arrest, many saying that at most the offence (if it was one at all) amounted to a citation or a court summons.
The four officers who eventually arrived at the scene were criticised widely for the arrest, and especially for attempting to confiscate his personal belongings. Toward the end of the video, he is seen being handcuffed at the end of a harrowingly long argument.
The incident, which many believe to be racially motivated, generated a furore online and resulted in a unique form of protest by Californians: an “eat-in”. Even a member of the board of directors at Bay Area Rapid Transport or BART (whose policemen made the arrest) brought her lunch and ate in protest:
As a result of the backlash from the video and the protests, a general manager of BART issued an apology regarding the incident, stating, “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.” He also detailed the investigation that will be taking place into the matter.
The unfolding of this story is testimony to the power of social media, but how does the individual who faced the arrest, Steve Foster, feel? Speaking to ABC7News, Foster said he does not plan to sue, and added, “I hope they start focusing on stuff that actually matters like people shooting up dope, hopping the BART, people getting stabbed.”