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Statement to Anaheim City Council regarding incident at Unitarian Church

by Duane Roberts Saturday, Feb. 01, 2003 at 11:58 PM
duaneroberts92804@yahoo.com

A small platoon of Anaheim police officers waged a fierce battle to shutdown a small event being held on church grounds that was organized by a political prisoner support group.

The following statement was read during the public comments section of the Tuesday, January 28, 2003 meeting of the Anaheim City Council:



Good evening!

My name is Duane Roberts.

I live at XXXX XXXXXXXXXX in Anaheim.

Last Saturday night, the streets and alleyways

surrounding the Unitarian Church of Orange County at

511 South Harbor Blvd. were flooded with Anaheim

police cars.

What happened you might ask?

Did an armed robbery occur? Was someone brutally

raped? Had a mass murder taken place?

No.

A small platoon of Anaheim police officers were waging

a fierce battle to shutdown a small event being held

on church grounds that was organized by a political

prisoner support group.

In a scene reminiscent of the kind of repression that

occurs in "third world countries", up to twenty police

officers spent several hours spying and harrassing the

crowd that peaceably assembled.

It was a veritable war zone Saturday evening as one

police car after another circled around the Unitarian

Church much like a group of hungry sharks looking for

an easy kill.

About a dozen police officers quickly seized control

of a nearby elementary school parking lot, bringing

along with them a K-9 unit whose German Shepherds

could be heard barking in the background.

Despite the enormous police presence, the event

proceeded without incident until a City Code

Enforcement officer arrived and ordered that the sound

be shut off under threat of citation.

Although the crowd never became unruly, disruptive,

combative, or violent, the field sergeant called up

about a dozen of his men and lined them up on church

property in a brazen show of force.

His tactic backfired because it motivated most of the

70 people who were there to walk across the street to

Anaheim Police headquarters to obtain the forms they

need to file a complaint.

Upon arriving at the front entrance, they discovered

to their surprise that Anaheim Police had locked all

the doors with handcuffs to prevent any of them from

going inside.

Although it was claimed that this was done because the

lobby had just closed, I'm not aware of any locksmith

anywhere who recommends that handcuffs be used in lieu

of deadbolts to secure a building.

I thought perhaps maybe Anaheim police did this

because most of the people requesting service were

Mexican, but I've since ruled that out as a

possibility since I was treated poorly too.

These and other concerns I have about how the police

behaved that night will be addressed in a written

complaint I intend to submit to Chief Roger Baker

sometime before next Monday.

I've been told that on Thursday, somebody else will be

delivering about 25 other complaints filled out by

people who were at the Unitarian Church that night.

That number may go much higher -- as high as 50 to 70.

In the meanwhile, I strongly encourage the Mayor and

City Council to look into this matter because it seems

to indicate Anaheim Police have a complete lack of

respect for civil liberties.

Although cities do have a right to regulate the time,

place, and manner of certain kinds of activities to

protect community interests, what happened last

Saturday may have been illegal and unconstitutional.

I thank you so much for your time.

[After this statement was read, both Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle and Councilman Richard Chavez have pledged an inquiry into what happened that Saturday evening]

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