Since 2010, John McPartland, a member of BART's board of directors, has held a concealed handgun permit from the Alameda County Sheriff's office according to public records obtained by the Chronicle.
McPartland appears to have originally secured the permit following protests in the wake of the 2009 BART police shooting of Oscar Grant. “As an elected official, I am often the decision maker and focal point on controversial issues,” wrote McPartland in his most recent application for renewal last April, which referred to the Black Lives Matter movement. In his characterization, BART directors "are highly recognizable by potentially irrational, outraged and/or unstable members of the public. We are also unprotected, approachable and vulnerable.”
McPartland has invoked an incident in April 2009 during which a man threw paint on a BART general manager during a board meeting. “To try to cite that, kids’ paint thrown at a meeting, as an act of violence is ridiculous," said the protester responsible for throwing the paint, Gabriel Meyers, who served a jail sentence for the act. “If someone else goes to do that and gets shot over it, that seems like a much bigger issue.”
Concealed handgun carry permits are granted by the Sheriff's Department for “documented, presently existing, clear and present danger to life, or great bodily harm.” But according to Captain Shawn Peterson of the Internal Affairs division, “When someone puts in an application and cites a general threat, we don’t go out and investigate each specific threat... Especially when it’s an elected official, we take them at their word.” Per records, McPartland is one of 222-permit holders in the county.
McPartland, 71, served as a BART safety specialist before his election to the Board of Directors. He was previously and Oakland firefighter and retired as a colonel after several tours of duty during the Vietnam and the first Iraq wars.
In his words, protestors’ “demonstrations, public disobedience and confrontations” had previously forced Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to seek police protection in public as she prosecuted activists who chained themselves to an Oakland BART train in November of 2014 on Black Friday.
Cat Brooks, who was among those arrested for the protest, found McPartland's logic faulty. “He is offering up a shining example of why we need the Black Lives Matter movement," Brooks said. "The idea that black bodies assembled, asserting our rights ... would mean that he should need to use deadly force against someone is absurd.”
It's unlikely that McPartland will be thrilled to learn that the public has knowledge of his permit. As he wrote in one application, "if my [gun] were to be discovered, photographed, and publicized, the adverse notoriety could potentially increase public sensitivity.” If he's so concerned, perhaps he might start with replacing those decoy BART surveillance cameras, ASAP.