Michael Mullenniex 1:43 p.m., May 25
Occupy San Diego Protester Joins Hunger Strike in Response to Alleged Police Brutality
Occupy San Diego will march from the Civic Center to the San Diego Police Headquarters on Broadway Ave and 14th Street at 6:30 tonight in protest of what they’re calling “police brutality” at the ongoing peaceful protest which began in early October.
San Diego Police Department officers arrested nine protestors around 2 a.m. the morning of Monday December 5. Most were charged with California Penal Code S148 (resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer), California Penal Code S647 (illegal lodging), and San Diego Municipal Code S54.0110 (unauthorized encroachments), which Occupy San Diego media liaisons have called “unconstitutional.”
According to an email from Occupy San Diego media volunteer Kali Katt, the protestors arrested were watching a DVD of Michael Moore’s Capitalism- A Love Story when the raid, the fourth since October 7, took place.
Katt says that no warning was given to disperse before officers began arresting protesters, including a member of the occupations media team who filmed the arrests. Over 100 protesters have been arrested in San Diego since the first arrest on October 14, one week after the occupation began.
Katt says that San Diego Police Department spokesman Gary Hassen’s claim the raid occurred in response to protesters camping on the plaza is false.
A recording of the morning’s Ustream (at 01:09:00) shows the protestors without tents and watching a movie when the officers moved in.
"It has been become routine for SDPD to enforce municipal codes at whim, without prior talks or mediation, and often resorting first-hand to violent tactics, to prevent, deter, and intimidate protestors and all San Diego citizens within this city from exercising their first amendment rights," writes Katt.
“During the first raid on October 14, SDPD was aggressive with protestors and sprayed hazardous chemical agents upon numerous people simply for having tents. A member of OSD’s media team documenting the second police raid on October 28 was arrested for Penal Code 408 unlawful assembly for standing in the middle of the street and Municipal Code 59.5.0401 excessive noise for using a megaphone.
The 51 protestors arrested during the second police raid on October 28 were subject to police brutality and inhumane conditions at the jail with even the San Diego County Sheriff’s Deptartment admitting the protestors were forced to urinate and defecate in the buses while being transferred to jail.
“In the following weeks they began heavily enforcing California Penal Code S647 (illegal lodging), which means very aggressively arresting people for allegedly sleeping, or just laying down in a sleeping bag, - even a homeless man in a wheelchair on Thanksgiving morning. During the November 16 raid they arrested another media team member while he was documenting action for San Diego Municipal Code S83.0203 (pedestrian standing on the sidewalk).
Then yet another member of the media team was arrested, this time for registering voters, on private property under a citizen’s arrest from the owner of the Civic Center - CB Richard Ellis. They continue to arrest protestors for simple things such as allegedly tearing police caution tape and calling it vandalism.”
Occupy San Diego is calling for the resignation of Police Chief William Lansdowne by petition for the way he has handled the protests. Occupier Julie Kramer has begun a hunger strike until Lansdowne publicly apologizes for his treatment of protesters.
“There have been a slew of human rights violations at Occupy San Diego, and we have videotape evidence,” writes Kramer via email.
“In response to the continued harassment, brutality, and abuses of power the SDPD has subjected us to, I am currently on hunger strike pending a public apology from Chief Lansdowne. I have attached my flier announcing my hunger strike, along with several other OSD fliers that show the harassment, unjust arrests and brutality at the Civic Center. The most compelling and documented case is this:
"On November 12, I witnessed one of my best and oldest friends be harassed by police for laying in a sleeping bag, then arrested for sitting on top of it. As the cops were standing him up, Officer Michael E. Sweet put my friend Bob O’Grady in a chokehold, slammed him to the ground, and choked him for thirty to forty seconds, while he was restrained by three officers. That video has been watched by over 20,000 viewers and can be seen here:
"Here is a different camera angle of that same event:
"You can also read a full account of Bob’s arrest here.
"I would very much appreciate any help I could get publicizing my hunger strike, as I don't have much weight to lose and I feel that we have enough evidence to warrant an apology. It is my hope that my hunger strike will bring awareness to the police misconduct at Civic Center.
"I have filed a complaint against Officer Michael E. Sweet, who is shown choking Mr. O'Grady in the above video for 30-40 seconds, and yet he has returned to duty at Civic Center. On the news the chief said he would be transferred. This was a lie.
The officers are becoming increasingly violent towards us, and arresting people for filming. We have a mountain of video evidence. I started a blog to document the reasons I am on hunger strike. Here you can see links to video evidence. I will add more videos each day, as we have PLENTY to share. Below you can see my email to Chief Lansdowne asking for an apology. “
Begin Kramer's email.
'Hello Chief Lansdowne,
'I am writing to respectfully inform you that I am on hunger strike pending an apology from you directed at the Occupy San Diego community for the continual police harassment, police brutality and unlawful arrests we have been subjected to. I am not asking for anything more than an apology, which we absolutely deserve. Here is an explanation of my claim. Please note that my hunger strike will be well publicized, and I sincerely hope we can come to a speedy resolution, because I have already been on hunger strike for 36 hours.
'In the past two months I have been completely taken aback by the actions of the San Diego Police Department. Protesters at Occupy San Diego have been subject to unlawful arrests, police brutality, unprofessional conduct, discrimination, and constant police harassment. Occupiers have been ticketed for ridiculous offenses such as ashing cigarettes outdoors, and jaywalking when not jaywalking. Occupiers have went to jail for misdemeanor infractions such as jaywalking or spitting on the sidewalk.
'Media has been jailed for filming the police on at least two occasions. At this point there have been close to 200 arrests at Occupy San Diego, very few of them valid. Many people simply practicing their freedom of speech and peaceful assembly are jailed for the crime of “obstructing a peace officer”, a vague charge. This is a travesty to our first amendment rights. Most seriously, Occupiers are being hurt. There are countless videos of police misconduct, brutality and unlawful arrests. I am tired of watching my fellow OSD protesters get hurt and feeling helpless about the situation.
'Therefore I am on hunger strike. I will end my hunger strike when Chief Lansdowne apologizes for the gross police misconduct, police brutality and police harassment Occupy San Diego has faced. I am not asking for anything but one simple apology. I have plenty of videos documenting my claims, and I will present it all to you over the next few days. Here are a few to start:
'On November 12, I witnessed one of my best and oldest friends be harassed by police for laying in a sleeping bag, then arrested for sitting on top of it. As the cops were standing him up, Officer Michael E. Sweet put my friend Bob O’Grady in a chokehold, slammed him to the ground and choked him for thirty to forty seconds, while he was restrained by three officers.
'This particular incident is particularly upsetting because despite multiple complaints Officer Sweet has been allowed to return to patrolling Civic Center and has engaged in intimidating behaviors with the Occupy San Diego protesters. When told by one protester “You choked Bob for thirty seconds” he responded “Actually is was 40 seconds”. He then demanded to know if Bob had returned and if he was there. This is in no way appropriate behavior for a peace officer.
'Last week Ray Lutz, the 2010 Democratic Candidate for Congress in California’s 52nd congressional district, was arrested for setting up a voters registration table. He is filing a lawsuit for the unlawful arrest. I have personally seen voters registration tables inside the Civic Center on two occasions, and no arrests were made. This is a perfect example of how the SDPD has targeted Occupy San Diego protesters.
'You can see the video of Ray being arrested here:
Here is an article detailing the events.
'Last week another occupier named Hex was arrested for allegedly tearing caution tape. He alleges that the police officers intentionally pinched his skin while putting on handcuffs. In this video notice the look on the officer’s face right before Hex begins howling in pain around 48 seconds in. Hex also alleges that he was pepper sprayed in handcuffs in the back of the cop car, which we do not have on film, but we are working on finding witnesses.
'The video can be seen here:
'In one of the more famous incidents at Occupy San Diego peaceful protesters were maced. There are many videos of this incident, however we saw nothing like the outcry that U.C. Davis saw when their protesters were maced.
Here are several videos of that macing:
Aside from all of this we have been raided four times. I will have to blog about those raids another night but here are some videos of your tax dollars at work:
End Kramer's email.
Meanwhile, protester John Kenney is in his 25th day of hunger strike and is requesting that the City come to the table and discuss the right of Occupy San Diego to conduct protests in the form of an encampment. John has become sick and now has a wheelchair to get around.