Activists and protestors occupy Peoples Park after UC Berkeley begins student housing construction.
Credit: Ximena Natera

Nicholas Alexander, a prominent People’s Park activist, was arrested by Berkeley police on suspicion of vandalism and booked in Santa Rita Jail for four days before being released.

He was arrested at his Oakland home on Thursday, according to Berkeley police and arrest documents.

Berkeley police spokesperson Officer Byron White said officers saw Alexander at the People’s Park protest on Aug. 3 and witnessed him commit a crime. UC Police were the primary agency responding to the protest, along with mutual aid officers, but White said BPD officers were close enough to recognize Alexander.

BPD sought arrest warrants from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and served them at Alexander’s residence. Alexander was arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, felony assault and battery on a police officer and booked at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

He was released Friday evening with all charges dropped, and the $85,000 bail was dismissed. The DA’s office did not provide information on why the charges were dropped.

Alexander said Berkeley police took his phone, however, and he won’t be able to get it back without a court order.

He said he was among the activists who tore down fencing at People’s Park after UC Berkeley construction crews erected the barriers to begin work on a student housing development at the park.

UC Berkeley crews first entered the park at about midnight on Aug. 3. They were met with resistance by protesters who didn’t want the university to build over the parkland, which they consider a service hub and refuge for both housed and unhoused Berkeley residents.

Activists ultimately tore down fences and vandalized and damaged construction equipment, estimated at $1.5 million, according to UC Berkeley. The university also has alleged protesters engaged in violence against officers and construction crews, such as throwing bottles and other items.

Authorities arrested seven people on suspicion of battery of a police officer, trespassing, resisting, obstructing and delaying an officer on Aug. 3, according to UC Berkeley. Most were cited and released, and one person was released after posting bail.

Alexander, who was initially arrested on suspicion of battery on an officer, said he hit an officer back when they tried to assault him. Berkeley police said he punched an officer.

UC Berkeley ultimately decided to pause construction at the site due to safety concerns, and a judge also passed a stay order halting construction possibly until October.

Alexander and other activists are currently occupying the park in protest of the university’s slated construction project. The university plans to build student housing with 1,100 beds for students, and 100 beds for residents with extremely low income, in partnership with Resources for Community Development.

Supriya Yelimeli is a housing and homelessness reporter for Berkeleyside and joined the staff in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and...