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Vandals Target San Francisco BART Station After Protests

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - A few hours after protests ended at one Bay Area Rapid Transit station in San Francisco on Thursday, vandals destroyed machines and sprayed graffiti at another BART station across the city, an agency spokeswoman said.

At about 9:45 p.m., about a dozen individuals stormed through the free area of the Glen Park station and damaged BART's fare collection equipment, spokeswoman Luna Salaver said Friday.

The vandals damaged all eight of the station's Clipper card readers as well as several ticketing machines, Salaver said, prompting BART staff to work through the night to ensure that customers would have access to the equipment for Friday's morning commute.

"Our customers were not impacted because we worked until about 2:30 a.m. to make sure that we had a normal level of working equipment," Salaver said.

The vandals also spray-painted graffiti and broke lighting at vendor kiosks at the station, including that of a flower vendor, she said.

Salaver said instead of having to pay for repairs, "we would prefer to use our resources on other projects that our customers feel are necessary, such as a newer fleet, clean cars, (and) clean stations."

The incident is under investigation, and Salaver said that it is similar to vandalism that occurred at San Francisco Municipal Railway's Van Ness station about a month ago.

She said that the suspects were wearing clothing similar to that worn by individuals who participated at the protest earlier Thursday evening at the system's Powell Street station.

"We think there is a direct correlation" between the protest and the vandalism, Salaver said.

More than 20 protesters were arrested at Powell Street station Thursday evening at a rally organized by a group the aims to disband the BART Police Department.

The group "No Justice, No BART" organized the protest, which drew dozens of supporters who were angry about the fatal shooting of Charles Hill, 45, at Civic Center station by BART police officers on July 3. Hill was allegedly wielding knives and a broken bottle as weapons when he was shot, police said.

Salaver said that disbanding the police would endanger individuals who ride the system and referenced a stabbing that occurred Thursday morning at the agency's Balboa Park station in San Francisco.

BART police said that at about 6:10 a.m., a transient stabbed the male victim in his 60s, who was on his way to work.

The two men had allegedly arrived at the station at the same time but did not speak to one another, police said.

"There was no provocation, there was no interaction between the two ... That shows that there are people out there who can be dangerous," Salaver said. "BART is much like a mobile city that serves 350,000 people each day. We want to make sure that they are safe."

Hours later, a man was shot and seriously wounded at the same station.  San Francisco police spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said he did not know if the shooting had any connection to the earlier stabbing.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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