Police make arrest in tire slashing incident

A group of South Berkeley residents change punctured tires on California Street on August 31. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Berkeley police officers arrested 33-year old Mandisa Monroe of Berkeley at about 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday in connection with the tire-slashing spree on the Berkeley/Oakland border last Wednesday. She has been charged with felony vandalism.

After a thorough investigation, reevaluation of the cases, community support and discovery of evidence that linked her to the crimes, a Berkeley police sergeant obtained both a Ramey warrant for Monroe’s arrest and a search warrant for her home. During the search of the home, officers seized a number of items that connected Monroe to images on surveillance videotape, according to the BPD. The videotape captured the suspect committing one of the crimes.

During an interview after her arrest, Monroe denied puncturing the tires, but did explain phrases that had been tagged on the cars. Yesterday, the District Attorney charged Monroe with felony vandalism.

Last Wednesday, a total of 74 cars had their tires punctured — 61 in  Berkeley, 13 in Oakland — in the early morning hours on a number of streets along 17 blocks, centered on California Street near the intersection with Russell.

The police said it was the biggest tire slashing incident the department could remember.

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  • Nick Mamatas

    One possibility: perhaps someone scrawled the so-called “n-word” on the fence. However, that hardly has much to do with “black panther hate rhetoric.” It could have been a racist painting that on the wall, as a critique of the other messages or of the Monroes.

    But yes, as far as I can tell from these comments, Laura tends to be easily annoyed and has various city departments on speed dial for when she sees things she doesn’t like, whether it’s her business or even a legal issue at all.

  • Guest

    so if you live there how come you never seen the fence except in google? liar.

  • Bruce Love

    To (for some reason) answer “guest” who asks why, if I live in this neighborhood,  I’ve never seen the fence other than on Google:

    I have seen the fence before.  I transcribed text off the fence based on the Google street view.

  • Ralph

    So is this the act of a mentally ill woman going through the terrible times of losing the family home to foreclosure, failed by the city of Berkeley’s police and health departments.  Or is this a brave crusader running around slashing tires to point out the injustice’s of history?

  • Laura, it would be nice if you could explicitly state what it was on the fence that you considered a slur. Was it the N-word? Or slurs directed at white people or other races?

    While I agree that the overall combination of quotes seems to be promoting revolt (especially when coupled with the actions she took) I’m not sure what slur you’re referring to, and it’s clear that the fence is unfinished in the Google Street View.

  • chris

    Despite the naysayers in the previous article on this subject – it seems that “surveillance videotape” did play some helpful role in nabbing her.

  • Indeed. Incidents like this should serve as proof of the value of temporarily placing cameras in particularly high-crime areas.

  • guest

    No it has nothing to do with hard times. She has mental problems but seems to be able to recover enough to fool health care workers, police, etc, the family hopes that this time, she can get the help that she needs. She is ill, her obsession was the black panthers, etc. There was no RACISM, it wasn’t against anyone except the demons in her head.

  • Anonymous

    post from Daily Cal


    I live on Julia St., a few houses down from the suspect. She
    claims to be a black panther and within the past month, could be seen
    standing in her front yard with her fist raised to the sky, giving dirty
    looks to any white person passing her way.  She also has a statue of a
    black panther she lights candles around every night and had (prior to
    the investigation) her whole fence painted with “Africa Unite, Orsiris
    & Iris will rise” and a whole bunch of other Black pride stuff.
    About a week before she popped all of our tires, she would walk up and
    down the block with either a boom box, a drum, or sticks in her typical
    sarong/bikini top outfit flipping off all the white folks on the street,
    myself included.  Needless to say, she’s fucking crazy and most of the
    officers I talked to seem to think she’s having a psychotic break.  I’m
    glad they finally arrested her, my roommates and I were getting scared
    to walk around our neighborhood with her around.

  • guest

    Which is exactly what the family was helping with! Trying to get her help. That is why they were working with the BPD. She hopefully now will get the help that she needs.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, which is why some of us also contacted city services for a welfare check. Yet  her behavior in both words and deeds were becoming threatening and contained racial animosity.  On the blocks closest to her home she was “selective” about which cars she punished.

    As I already stated, I have been responsible for protecting the public from a psychotic family member and sympathize.

  • Heather W.

    Guest, this woman will end up in jail, not a mental health facility. She will receive remedial treatment for her psychosis. She will be charged with multiple felonies and will likely serve time, after which she will be released, probably go off her meds and start the cycle all over again. 

    In case no one has been keeping abreast of the news, public mental health services are taking an enormous hit in this economy. I’ve helped to evaluated many mentally ill people, including those who have committed murder after multiple prison terms. They are ultimately released to the streets again. Only the most seriously ill are jailed in mental facilities; from what I’ve read, this woman is psychotic, but targeted. Whatever treatment she receives will not mitigate the fact that the tire slashing was done with malice aforethought (ruling out an insanity plea), she targeted certain cars and didn’t slash others, furthermore, she knew what she was doing and knew that she had to do it undercover so as not to be caught — one of the main arguments for an insanity plea  is the person’s inability to know right from wrong.  She apparently did know right from wrong, else she wouldn’t have been generally selective, nor done it in the dead of night.  The murderer I mentioned in the first part was done in broad daylight, when the mentally ill guy stabbed an Asian couple repeatedly, right in the open. He hate Asians and his mental illness exacerbated his paranoia of them.  Once he was incarcerated (for life), he calmed down on medications. The problem in lesser cases is that these people are released without being formally followed-up and they become non-compliant.
    Medication isn’t going to change how she feels about people/things in general, but it can mitigate her disinhibitions and paranoia. Disinhibition increases when people are medically non-compliant. 

  • guest

    I have to disagree, but you all have your opinions of this woman. So have them. She is DISTURBED and members of the family have requested many many welfare checks, have gone over there many times to try to help and get her to realize that she needs help. This woman did not hate white people prior to her getting more and more disturbed. How is it that she knew she was targetting white people cars? Those are a lot of cars to know that she was only hitting “white people”. No one is saying that she isn’t gulity, what we are saying is that she is not in her right mind. Hopefully she will get the help that she needs, she has the support of her family in getting healthy, but ya know what over all it is her choice to take the meds.

  • Heather W.

    Guest, I have no opinion of a woman I’ve never met. By all accounts she is mentally ill and needs help. Unfortunately, the judicial system’s healthcare is limited at best, and she will get some treatment, but not the extensive care she likely needs.

    There appears to be several thoughts going on with your posts: the condemnation that she might be racist (anecdotal evidence suggests she has been racially hostile), that her family has been trying to get her to seek help (which she has apparently refused to do), and somewhere in this is her slashing over 60 cars’ tires (which she very likely did do, based upon the circumstantial evidence). These are not mutually exclusive points; if she was writing vitriol on her fence, exhibiting bizarre behavior toward specific people in public, and she is mentally unstable, then it is a good bet people have had something to be afraid of, further confirmed by awakening to nearly every car in the neighborhood having slashed tires and the same verbiage as was found on her fence.

    Again, the judicial system won’t give her the care she needs and Berkeley’s “look the other way” attitudes about crazy people suggests she won’t get much in the way of follow-up care, which furthers the probability that she will be back on the streets eventually, relapsing, and perhaps causing greater harm to herself, and possibly others. 

    All that said,  I do hope she gets medical help and that her family is able to support her and protect her from herself. 

  • Bruce Love

    You write: “I have to disagree, but you all have your opinions of this woman. So have them.”

    Yes, but if I may add something:  I hope people will be careful with what they do with those opinions.

    I think it’s worth taking at least a moment to reflect on how the manifestation of mental illness is not separate from how a community treats a person.   How does the community react to acting out?  In ways that help?  Or in ways that make things worse?   In hypocritical ways?  Or in sensible and consistent ways?

    For example, suppose that someone on the edge is having trouble coping with feelings of being racially oppressed.   And they put on public display something like those quotes from Newton and Seale.   It’s a provocative thing to do, certainly, but so are a lot of public expressions that are neither hate speech nor incitement.   Nevertheless, next thing you know, the police are coming around asking questions that, if answered incorrectly, lead to involuntary incarceration — and some of the neighbors are palpably looking at you and speaking of you like you are  some kind of subhuman freakish threat — drawing curtains, crossing the street in avoidance, and looking askance.

    Wouldn’t that tend to reinforce – to confirm – those feelings of racial oppression?    And wouldn’t that, if it happened to you, easily increase the urgency of acting out and trying to overcome the oppression?

    And wouldn’t that even be kind of logical, right up until the point were you seize on the idea of vandalizing cars as an effective tactic?

    And suppose on the other hand that you’re a young person with no mental illness problems whatsoever — but you are growing up watching how the community responds to cases like this one.    What would you learn here about the status of  race relations in Berkeley?

  • Heather W.

    Thomas, I honestly think this entire situation goes much deeper than racial issues, although certainly that exists, based upon the various writings on her fence and her public behavior.  I would agree that oppression, along with other environmental factors, could and likely would be exacerbated by a mental condition. That her condition had to escalate to the widespread damage she did speaks very plainly to the lack of community level services available. How many people do you (and I) see staggering around our city streets, their mental illness having so overtaken them that they sometimes appear barely human? There is a fine line between human rights and acting humanely in intervention during mental health crises. This woman was clearly at the point of crisis, which had likely been ramping up over the course of time. 

    Laura Menard has said she called in to try to get mental health services to assist this woman, and apparently her (the woman’s) family has tried to intervene, to no avail. I think that people’s fear of her is founded and that mental health services could have and should have intervened some time ago, if she were exhibiting signs of outward hostility toward anyone. There’s a reason why California has the 5150 code; to keep people from harming themselves or others. 

    Thank goodness she didn’t burn down people’s homes, or set herself ablaze, and only attacked car tires. 

    Let’s just hope that she gets medical and therapeutic intervention she needs.  

  • “What would you learn here about the status of  race relations in Berkeley?”

    That anyone storming around harassing individuals of one specific race won’t/shouldn’t be tolerated, no matter what the color of their skin is.

  • anotherguest

    I live in the neighborhood I’ve been wondering what was up with that house.  The sheets that went up to make the fence extra tall went up about the same time as the propaganda on the fence.  I couldn’t really read what was on the fence as I always was in a car when going by and was a bit scared to stop (more on that in a second.)  I could only read it in snippets that were more intimidating than when I actually read the quotes transcribed here.  (I misread it as a call for blood.)  The sheets almost bothered me more.  Their was something about the extreme makeshift privacy fencing that reminded me of the Garido compound.  It just seemed like something that one would only do if they were seriously cracking up.

    Anyway…as to why I wouldn’t stop to read it or have a walk to do the same…the first time I went by the gal was painting it.  She glared at me in a way that I interpreted to be pretty hateful.  I was curious but not interested enough to be confrontational.  The second time, I was driving and told my husband to try to read it, and she was in the yard waving a sword around glaring at him until we were out of view.  That was more memorable.

    I feel bad for her…both for her mental illness and for losing her home.  I hope that she gets treatment, but clearly she’s not a safe person to have about town right now.  My quicky search indicates that the foreclosure happened on May 5 which IIRC is right about the time that the painting started.

  • Bruce Love

    Extreme makeshift privacy, anotherguest.