Crowd attacks police during Labor Day beach brawl

September 6, 2007 2 Comments

Beach and Bay Press by SEBASTIAN RUIZ

Standing at the foot of Reed Street in Pacific Beach, Councilman Kevin Faulconer announced that he would work to bring legislation before City Council to ban alcohol on the beach in following the violence that broke out Labor Day in Pacific Beach.

At the Tuesday, Sept. 4 press conference, Faulconer said San Diego County is one of the only counties in California that still allows alcohol on the beaches.

“Never again should we have to have police in riot gear walking down our beaches,” Faulconer said. “Never again should we have to close off our main thoroughfare because of what occurred yesterday. That is not San Diego.”

Several hundred people crowded the section of Pacific Beach near Reed Street during the Monday holiday. When officers responded to reports of fighting in the crowd at about 5 p.m., they were pelted with full beer cans, plastic bottles and size D batteries from the crowd, according to Moñica Muñoz of the San Diego Police Department.

Officers immediately removed the offenders from the crowd and called for additional officers to handle the crowd. Mission Boulevard was also closed near Reed Street for part of the evening.

Police arrested the following individuals, according to a list complied by police:

• Valent Rich, 24, drunk in public, disturbing the peace, jail
• Nicholas Bottjer, 23, obstructing/delaying peace officer, disturbing the peace, drunk in public, jail
• Kenneth Warlocki, 32, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, obstructing an officer, jail
• Linsie Wells, 21, obstructing/delaying peace officer, disturbing the peace, drunk in public, jail
• Ricardo Guzman, 23, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, obstructing an officer, jail
• Eric Mitchell, 19, obstructing/delaying peace officer, drunk in public, jail
• Joshua Henderson, 30, obstructing/delaying peace officer, drunk in public, jail
• Andrew Terrell, 20, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, jail
• Dylan Whitman, 26, urging a riot, jail
• Kalicocky Willie, 24, assault on a peace officer, jail
• Cal Didluin, 20, drunk in public, detox
• Cal O’Flynn, 19, drunk in public, detox
• Damien O’Flynn, 19, drunk in public, detox
• Thomas O’Donnell, 20, drunk in public, detox
• Tim O’Donoughue, 20, drunk in public, detox

Faulconer said he arrived at the scene at about 6 p.m. to find police in riot gear and a helicopter overhead. He said the police department “did a tremendous job” dealing with the crowd.

City Attorney Michael Aguirre also came out in support of a full alcohol ban Tuesday during a press conference at City Hall.

“What happened on Monday is another reminder that the situation is out of control,” Aguirre said in a phone interview.

He said his office would draft the proposed ordinance to ban alcohol at all beaches in the City of San Diego, adding that the vast majority of counties have already banned alcohol on beaches, including Los Angeles and Orange counties. Some California state beaches still allow alcohol but require a permit, he said.

A permit process in the city’s ordinance “would have to be worked out” in the public discussion, he said.

The incident reignited passions in the community over the ban.

The Labor Day brawl should serve as a wake-up call to beach residents, said Scott Chipman, a 33-year Pacific Beach resident who served on the recently disbanded Beach Alcohol Task Force.

Formed by Faulconer, the 14-member task force met periodically over the course of nine months before officially disbanding in June. The group compiled a list of 21 programs to include increased law enforcement and various community campaigns to curb binge drinking in the communities of Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Mission Beach.

Community members debated heavily over both complete and partial bans during the meetings.
An alcohol ban would prevent another debacle like Monday’s, which left Pacific Beach residents reeling from the aftermath, said 20-year Pacific Beach resident Deborah Hancko.
“It was completely out of control,” she said following Faulconer’s press conference.

As people left the beach, residents dealt with a still agitated crowd, she said.
Hancko could not hear her telephone ring because of the noise from the helicopter and yelling from beachgoers passing her house on Reed Street. She said she lives about three blocks from where the incident took place.

However, not everyone attending Tuesday’s press conference thought a ban was a good idea.
“Our whole thing is promoting responsibility,” Scott Crosby, a founding member of FreePB.Org, an active community group opposed to an alcohol ban.

“We just think it’s a knee-jerk reaction to do a complete ban at this time,” he said.

Crosby, a 10-year Pacific Beach resident, said FreePB.org was able to raise $12,000 this year from local businesses for extra-large temporary trash bins, plastic bags and signs explaining the beach rules as part of an effort to prevent alcohol related problems during Fourth of July week.

He said it’s regrettable the incident over Labor Day occurred but that it shouldn’t ruin the privilege for the hundreds of thousands of people who come to San Diego beaches every year and enjoy alcohol responsibly.

Police also released the statistics from a DUI checkpoint set up at 2700 Grand Ave. Saturday, Sept. 1 from 8:45 p.m. to 2:35 a.m.

Police made 27 DUI arrests that day. The number surpasses a previous city record set Saturday, Aug. 24, where police arrested 24 motorists for driving under the influence at a checkpoint set up at 2700 Garnet Ave.

Labor Day Riot 2007
2 Comments to “Crowd attacks police during Labor Day beach brawl”
  1. Sharon Conway says:

    It was our unfortunate experience to have received a call that our son was in Critical ICU Truama Center at La Jolla Scripps Hospital on 09-01-07. Our son woke up in the same bed that on 5-24-07 Bed#9 his surfing buddy died in, Emery Kauanui who too was badly beaten to death however. Emery and Shon are not violent people, they shared a passion, surfing. The reality that a spoiled adult over 18 years old from an upper class neighborhood would think that getting drunk and hitting people is cool has left me raw. The fact being that an innocent young lady, Emery’s companion wittnessed his beating even more disrespectful towards women. The fact that my son tried to protect her from witness tampering after Emery’s death when he too was attacked twice after Emery’s death by these BRB is going to prove another flaw in these ego maniac BRB people. Our families faith in justice will prevail and respect for life essential. You should not of witness tampered by assaulting my son and you will be dealt with. For my son lives and will in the name of his friend Emery defend his honor, Emery’s spirit lives in those close to him left behind!

  2. Bill Bradshaw says:

    I notice that almost half those arrested were underage. This is an indicator of how destructive our current city policy is.

    I see the police chief has avoided the word “riot”; he calls it a donnybrook. I wonder if he has now relabled the equipment used by the 40 reinforcements he had to send in, as “donnybrook gear”.

    This disturbance is far from unique. We’ve had numerous recent serious incidents. E.g., a few days before this fiasco, there was a fight on the boardwalk and one guy had his skull split with a baseball bat; he was still in the I.C.U. last time I checked. The day AFTER the riot, Tuesday, there was a repeat in O.B. on a smaller scale, a mini riot the police broke up and arrested participants.

    People who think we can just use halfway measures to control the drunks on the beach need to answer two questions:

    1. Are binge drinkers rights so sacred that they override the rights of long term residents to a peaceful neighborhood? I’ve lived in Mission Beach for 19 years and the environment has gradually but steadily become coarser, louder, more belligerent and dangerous. The crime rate is off the scale, and not just alcohol-related crime.

    2. Why is San Diego the last major city to recognize the obvious, that whenever you allow uncontrolled drinking involving large numbers of young people you are always going to have big problems.

    3. In an area full of bars, liquor stores and college kids having house parties, why are the rules so loose? This situation calls for tight control of alcohol, and we have an open bar on the beach! No one is accountable, no one is in charge, underage drinkers flock here.

    We are the only major city in Southern California to stick with hope over experience. We rationalize this mess by kidding ourselves, claiming that the booze on the beach is not the problem; we simply need more trash cans, more restrooms, clearer signs stating the rules, more enforcement of existing laws, blah, blah, blah. It’s all baloney. The booze on the beach IS the problem. Now the participants are trying to claim that the police tactics are what caused a minor disturbance to escalate. EVERYONE is to blame but the binge drinkers.

    Let’s do what everyone else does. Why reinvent the wheel. Get the booze off the beach. You don’t need a drink to enjoy the water or the sand.

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