Advertisement

Protesters condemn arrest at City Hall

July 16, 2002

Lolita Harper

About 30 people rallied at the City Council meeting Monday night

to condemn the recent arrest of a protester, claiming Costa Mesa

police selectively enforced laws and shut down a peaceful

demonstration.

Speakers crowded City Hall to speak out against the arrest of

Costa Mesa resident Naui Huitzilopochtli during a July 4 protest at

Advertisement

Niketown. Huitzilopochtli was booked on suspicion of assault and

battery after allegedly throwing red paint at a man. He denied the

allegations on Monday.

Audience members defended Huitzilopochtli, saying he was

wrongfully detained during a peaceful assembly, while three

unidentified men -- who allegedly yelled derogatory remarks at the

protesters and kicked their signs -- were never cited.

Rosalinda Ramirez, of Anaheim, said she was verbally assaulted by

the three men, who allegedly yelled racial epithets at her and made

lewd sexual remarks. When Ramirez confronted the police to press

charges, she was ignored and threatened with arrest, she said.

"I was treated like a criminal when I was, in fact, the victim of

a crime," Ramirez said.

Ramirez said police refused to allow her to file a report at the

scene and told her she would have to take her complaints to the

department. At the same time, officers responded to the complaints of

the three men and subsequently arrested Huitzilopochtli, Ramirez

said.

Mayor Linda Dixon assured audience members that the allegations

were being investigated by police officials and a report would be

presented to the council in the near future.

Costa Mesa Police Chief Dave Snowden confirmed the complaints were

under investigation but defended the actions of his officers.

Huitzilopochtli was detained under a citizen's arrest, Snowden

said. Officers were required to arrest him at the request of the

three men. Snowden said Ramirez did not request a citizen's arrest.

"If she would have placed them under citizen's arrest, they would

have gone to jail," Snowden said.

Huitzilopochtli, who said he was on site to hand out fliers for an

upcoming and unrelated protest on school mascots, joined the Niketown

protest because he believed in the cause. He said he was not only

disappointed in the officers' conduct regarding his arrest, he

criticized the police for stopping the protest and violating his

right to assemble.

"I just think every time you protest, they treat you like a

criminal instead of congratulating you for exercising your First

Amendment rights," Huitzilopochtli said.

Demonstrators congregated at the base of Niketown in Triangle

Square on July 4 to protest the alleged use of child labor and worker

exploitation.

Niketown officials could not be reached at press time.

Snowden said protests are generally disbanded when they become so

disruptive and unruly that business cannot be conducted in a normal

fashion.

Answers regarding the protest, arrests and lack of arrests will be

detailed in an upcoming staff report to the City Council. City

officials have yet to announce when that report will be presented.

* LOLITA HARPER covers Costa Mesa. She may be reached at (949)

574-4275 or by e-mail at lolita.harper@latimes.com.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|