Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
City and Police Chief sued for civil rights violations at Children's Pool in La Jolla
Man says police targeted him for his pro-seal views.
Children's Pool isn't just a safe spot for Harbor Seals to breed and raise pups. It also is a first-rate view for seals to witness the legal dustup between hundreds of residents fighting over public access to the beach, seal protection, and in the latest legal battle, a battle over free speech.
On April 8, local dentist and seal lover, Farhoud Rastegar, filed a lawsuit in the Ninth U.S. District Court against the City of San Diego and Police Chief William Landsdowne for violating his civil rights.
In what is the most recent lawsuit involving Children's Pool, Rastegar claims his first amendment rights to free speech were stripped away when police officers confiscated a large sign he was holding which advocated for the protection of seals and other marine wildlife at Children's Pool in La Jolla.
The April 2011 incident occurred one week after a large rally occurred at Children's Pool. At that rally, Rastegar said his sign, a large replica of one that the City of Carpinteria posted on the beach during pupping season, was very effective. So much so, he returned to seal beach the following week to show it off again. But that time, Rastegar says San Diego Police Officers singled him out and confiscated his sign.
Based on the conduct alleged above, Defendants are liable for creating a substantial chilling effect to state and federally constitutionally protected activities by burdening free speech with the risk of arrest, of being threatened with physical harm and of having one’s property confiscated by the police. This includes, but is not limited to, an intent by Defendants to deny Plaintiff and other individuals perceived to be associated with the movement to protect the La Jolla seals their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to peaceably petition the government for redress of grievances.
Defendants are liable to Dr. Rastegar for violating his freedoms of expression, assembly, and petition, thereby proximately and foreseeably causing him damage, injury, and loss. That is, they falsely detained him and confiscated his property. These actions were designed to, and did, interfere with Dr. Rastegar’s statutorily and constitutionally protected rights, and were intended to dissuade others from exercising their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights
These unconstitutional actions by Defendants were intended to, and did, send a threatening message to those engaged in a peaceful, non-violent political protest and to the public that free speech activities are viewed as criminal by SDPD and those who participate in demonstrations, associate with them, or are just in the vicinity, assume risk of police violence and false arrest.
Rastegar is represented by local attorney Bryan Pease, who is no stranger to the legal fight at Children's Pool. Pease has long advocated for the rope line stretching across the beach meant to protect the seals and their pups.
Read the complaint here:
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