Crowd attacks police during Labor Day beach brawlSeptember 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