The North Berkeley BART station was vandalized early Thursday morning as a protest against the killing of Oscar Grant III by a BART police officer, BART authorities said Friday.
BART spokesperson Jim Allison said that the incident was the first report of direct vandalism at a BART station in response to Grant’s death that he was aware of.
Thursday’s incident followed violent civil protests in Oakland Wednesday night, during which angry mobs of people were arrested after setting fire to cars and smashing storefronts.
According to BART police log, a neighbor reported loud noise coming from the North Berkeley BART station to the Berkeley Police Department around 3:07 a.m. on Thursday.
When officers arrived at the scene after some time they found the station damaged.
Several full length and small windows were broken toward the back of the station.
Graffiti was found on the exterior of the station and bricks were located both inside and outside the building as well as on the platform.
BART police responded and took down a report.
Allison described Thursday morning’s events as a criminal action that BART police was investigating.
“Those responsible could be prosecuted,” he said. “We encourage people to express themselves under the First Amendment but the First Amendment does not include criminal acts. Peaceful demonstrations are fine, but damaging equipment and facilities is not.”
BART police chief Gary Gee called the incident a "very unfortunate and malicious act on someone's part."
Allison said BART police was still looking into the identity of the suspects.
According to a message posted on Indybay.org by people who called themselves “anarchists,” the windows were smashed “in memory of Oscar Grant and all who are murdered at the cold hands of the police.”
The message says in part: “This action was taken out in response to the murder of Oscar Grant by BART police and in solidarity with the riots that have been taking place in Oakland. Our hope is that this action will inspire others to rise up against this atrocious police state in which we live.
“This action was very easy to carry out and took no more than a few minutes to get done. We approached the BART station fully masked and carried stones, bricks, and spray paint in our gloved hands. We painted first as to not make much noise, and did so in block letters to not reveal any personal handwriting. We spent no more than 20 seconds smashing in the glass windows and then vanished into the night.”
The message can be seen at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/01/09/18560418.php
Calls to the Berkeley Police Department for comment were not returned.