BART GM Pelted with Paint

BART Board President Tom Blalock said the transit agency will  toughen security measures at its meetings in the wake of an incident at  today's meeting in which a man squirted red paint at General Manager Dorothy  Dugger.
BART Police Chief Gary Gee said Dugger and Deputy General Manager  Marcia deVaughn were hit by the red paint and when BART Director James Fang  rushed to their assistance he also was hit with paint.

Gee said Dugger, deVaughn and Fang weren't hurt in the incident, which occurred at about 10:40 a.m. while the board room was packed with more  than 50 people who were criticizing the way in which BART has responded to an  incident at the Fruitvale station in Oakland early New Year's Day in which  passenger Oscar Grant III was shot and killed by BART police Officer Johannes  Mehserle.

The man who squirted the red paint from a large tube was immediately handcuffed by BART police, escorted from the board room and  arrested on charges of battery, disturbing a lawful assembly and resisting  arrest.

Gee said the man, identified as 31-year-old Gabriel Meyers of Citrus Heights, will be taken to the North Alameda County Jail.

He said Meyers suffered a cut on his hand when he was arrested but was treated at the scene.

Gee said a BART police officer who helped tackle Meyers suffered a scrape on his leg but was able to return to his duties.

Gee, who has been in BART's police department for many years, said he's never seen a similar incident at a board meeting.

"This has never happened before," he said.

Blalock said, "It was scary."

He said speakers who packed the meeting "talked enough until someone exploded."

Blalock said, "Who knows what else could have happened."

BART Director Lynette Sweet also said she thinks that security should be tightened because the public's emotions are high in the wake of the  Oscar Grant incident.

Blalock said, "I've been very generous" in allowing people to talk about the Grant incident.

Even though BART directors will be discussing the transit agency's budget and possible fare increases today, Blalock said he moved up the public  comment period to the beginning of today's meeting because many protesters  showed up.

Blalock didn't enforce the normal three-minute time limit for public comment today, but he said he will enforce it in the future.

The board meeting adjourned immediately after the 10:40 a.m. incident.

When it resumed at 11:20 a.m. Blalock didn't allow any more public comment except for two speakers who apologized for the man's actions and said  the man didn't represent the people who spoke about the Oscar Grant incident.

Diana Davis-Marks, Grant's godmother, said, "What just took place is unacceptable to our family."

Dr. Ramona Tascoe said, "What occurred is nothing we planned and we decry it."

Directing her comments to BART police officers, Tascoe said, "We are glad you did not shoot this man and did not beat this man."

The board then went into a closed session and resumed the public part of its meeting early this afternoon to talk about the budget, the  possible fare hike and other issues.

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