Protesters involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement largely agree that the egregious police response throughout the demonstration thus far has really stunk. In San Diego, however, the local PD helped elevate that stench to a whole new level.
On the morning of October 28, authorities in the SoCal city arrested 51 protesters at a gathering of the local Occupy San Diego movement. The four dozen-plus — 36 men and 15 women — were carted into police vehicles after being detained, but unfortunately it was a while before police pulled the autos up to the jail for processing.
A little might be an understatement.
During the course of events, protesters were held up for upwards of eight hours while awaiting booking, all the while they were denied access to restrooms.
Today the Sheriff’s Department confirms that detainees urinated on themselves while handcuffed in police custody and at least one woman defecated while kept in the vehicle.
In a statement offered to San Diego’s City Beat, the Department writes, “this unfortunate result is very unusual and it is currently being reviewed.”
In a recent report published in City Beat, protesters say that they were grossly mistreated during the incident last month and the Washington Post reports today that some of the subjects are considering bringing charges against the Police Department because of the incident. On Wednesday, attorneys representing the Occupy San Diego group as a whole told reporters that they intend to file a temporary restraining order between the protesters and both the City of San Diego and the Police Department for violating the rights of the demonstrators. Such a filing would not come as a result of the stinky sans-toilet incident, but rather because of the Department’s ongoing infringing of the First Amendment rights of protesters, attorneys say. According to a city ordinance, San Diego Municipal Code Section 54.0110 (Encroachment), police have the power to pick and chose from protesters to file charges against for something as small as placing an item on public property.
“Free speech can be subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions,” said attorney Bryan Pease, “but you can’t have an ordinance that’s so overbroad, that puts so much unlimited discretion in the police department that they can tell anybody they want that they can’t put a sign down and in effect create a basically free speech free zone where there’s no free speech in the Civic Center Plaza and push everybody out into the street.”
In the meanwhile, the Sherriff’s Department says that they will investigate the events from that morning “to improve our practices to assure that this does not happen again.” Additionally, they are offering complaint forms on their website for citizens to file again the Department.
Adds the Department, their internal investigation will help them “determine how to improve our practices to assure that this does not happen again.”
Here’s something for starters: toilets.