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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

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?


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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