Police Arrest ‘Occupy’ Protester at Home of Local Bank Executive
Woman Tells Police Officer She Was ‘Paid Activist’ at LastThursday Evening’s Rally.
By Mitch Lehman
EDITOR OF THE TRIBUNE
Reprising a desperate attempt to garner gratuitous publicity for theirflailing cause, approximately one hundred members of the ‘Occupy’movement again descended on the San Marino home of Tim Sloan, a WellsFargo Bank executive, to protest what they perceive as predatorymortgage lending.
One woman, Ana Casas of South Gate – who later admitted to San MarinoPolice that she was a paid activist – was arrested and charged withtrespassing. She was released after two hours at the SMPD. Casas, whohas cerebral palsy and attended the rally in a scooter, claimed shewanted to present Sloan with a mortgage payment for her home, which isin foreclosure. She was taken in for processing by paramedics from theSan Marino Fire Department to avoid further injury.
The original incident call was placed by a neighbor and logged by anSMPD dispatcher at 6:04 p.m., but officers did not officially declarethe location a crime scene until more than ninety minutes had passed.San Marino Police Chief John Schaefer did not arrive until 7:30 p.m.
Officers from the Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra and San GabrielPolice Departments responded to the call for mutual aid, eventuallycomprising a force of thirty officers. San Marino typically employseither three or four police officers at that time of day.
San Marino City Manager Matt Ballantyne arrived on the scene from hishome in La Verne and told The Tribune on Monday that he was “happy”with the department’s handling of the incident.
“It took a while to get the back up, but once they were there, weannounced it was an unlawful assembly and moved the crowd to the bufferline,” Ballantyne said.
Unlike the two previous attacks on the Sloan residence, the SMPD had noadvance notice the protest was going to occur. Earlier in the day,Schaefer was in Palm Springs attending a Los Angeles County PoliceChiefs training conference that included, ironically, a discussionregarding the use of force with Occupy protesters.
“I don’t know what to do,” Schaefer said Wednesday. “It’s terrible, butI don’t see a way to stop these protests from happening. I think we cankeep people 150 feet away, but if people show up it takes cops there tomove people back. I don’t know that I can say ‘this will never happenagain. I wish I could. I think it will go away. These are notsuccessful. I though we did good, but I still have unhappy customers and I still want to improve the response.”
Schaefer referenced an emergency ordinance that was passed by the SanMarino City Council on November 9, 2011 that targets residentialpicketing. Prior to that date, protesters could legally stand in thepublic right of way and picket – a sidewalk, if available, or the curb.
The ordinance gives police the right to move picketers seventy-fivefeet from the property line or one hundred and fifty feet from thestructure – whichever is greater.
“We have played through several scenarios and one of them wasn’t ‘whatdo we do with a 49-year-old cerebral palsy patient?’” Schaefercontinued. “This is dicey territory. Unfortunately, as much as Idisdain the strategy, to go to somebody’s home is just deplorable.There are parameters regarding where the First Amendment ends, andholding someone captive is deplorable.”
Schaefer also said he has never been advised to not discharge a weaponat protesters or withhold force
“I try to do as professional a job as I can to protect the residents weare sworn to serve while not violating the rights of citizens,”Schaefer said. “It’s good we are not getting sued. We are not in thepaper. We aren’t on Channel 7. I would weigh those factors as success.”
Sloan’s wife and teenage daughter were home at the time of the attack.
“The leaders of Wells Fargo and the members of their family should beafforded the right to feel safe in their private residence and weencourage all organizations choosing to demonstrate at privateresidences to abide by the law for the safety of the general public,”Wells Fargo said in a statement, noting that the institution’sforeclosure rate is 4% lower than the industry standard.
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