Halloween Bacchanal Spares McKinley, Disfigures Policeman – November 7, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween started off delightfully enough, with hundreds of children trick or treating on a car-free Plaza. Photos by KLH | Eye

Arcata Main Street and the Arcata Chamber of Commerce co-sponsored a costume contest in Jacoby’s Storehouse, which was done up for the occasion.

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

DOWNTOWN – The McKinley-encircling phalanx of police officers that kept the Plaza’s core free of destruction last New Year’s Eve did the same on Halloween last week, but it didn’t stop those committed to spoiling the evening from doing so just up the street.

The idea of swarming the Schwazz with blue didn’t appeal to many citizens – or, in fact, the police themselves. But lacking a community or City Council alternative, the potential public safety consequences of an out-of-control crowd fighting and dangerously climbing the much-abused statue as occurred last Halloween left the City with only that costly, draconian solution.

APD Volunteer Nilo Speziale is tangled up in tots Kamea O’Donnell, 3, and Jaimeanne O’Donnell, 4, as Volunteer Elena David looks on.

Well-intentioned “visioning” sessions held at City Hall and elsewhere earlier this year yielded lofty sentiments and lots of creative suggestions, but interest petered out afterward, with no practical follow-through.

Abruzzi’s Chris Smith handed out treats to trick of treaters outside historic Jacoby’s Storehouse.

Unfortunately, driving the crowds from the Plaza concentrated the partying population into adjacent areas along Tavern Row and points north.

A City of Arcata/APD press release the next day offered a basic summary of the night’s events:

“The Arcata Police Department, along with officers from the Eureka Police Department, Fortuna Police Department, Ferndale Police Department, Rio Dell Police Department, HSU Police Department and California Highway Patrol patrolled the Arcata Plaza on Halloween due to past incidents of unruly behavior.

“Halloween saw a couple thousand people in the downtown area once again. While officers were successful in keeping the Plaza from being vandalized, some people in the crowd turned violent.

APD officers are joined by a fleet of students enrolled in College of the Redwoods’ Law Enforcement Academy. The inchoate cops fulfilled the community service component of their education by helping bulk up APD’s numbers on the Plaza for Halloween.

Police relieve one Halloween Plazagoer of his glass bottle and let him off with a warning.

“While arresting a female subject who had been involved in a physical fight, officers became surrounded. Several objects were thrown at the officers from the crowd. An APD sergeant was struck in the face with a bottle. He sustained a large laceration to his upper lip and had to be transported to Mad River Hospital where he received several stitches. The crowd continued to be unruly and several more arrests were made throughout the night.

“During the evening officers located a male subject with an  AR-15 assault rifle slung around his neck. The firearm had an unusable unloaded magazine in the weapon. He also had a loaded, operable 10-round magazine in his pocket. The weapon was taken for public safety reasons.

Officers line the Plaza’s north side lawn, monitoring the surging crowd on Tavern Row.

“During the evening there were nine Public intoxication arrests,  and  numerous medical aid calls which consisted of a broken nose, broken jaw, severed ear (which were sustained during physical altercations in the downtown area) and other alcohol-related issues. There were approximately 101 calls for service during the night.”

Awful aftermath

In the aftermath of the evening, troubling details emerged.

The ear attack

The individual whose ear was described as “severed” reported being attacked from behind with a machete at Ninth and J streets.

APD set up a command post at Eighth and G streets. The temporary complex included the Critical Incident Response vehicle, plus trailers for supplies and a small canteen. A pop-up tent provided a sheltered booking area.

His assailants, described only as two men wearing ponchos, were last seen running south on J Street.

Photos of the victim, which Chief Tom Chapman declined to release, show a bloodied man whose ear is still attached, though how securely wasn’t apparent. He apparently suffered a scalp wound, too.

A man arrested on a public drunkenness charge is booked and prepared for transport to jail.

The AR-15

Chapman stood by his decision to confiscate the AR-15 assault rifle from the man who brought it and 10 rounds of ammunition to the Plaza.

The man wasn’t happy about his rifle being taken away from him, and Chapman acknowledged that the legal justification for APD doing so was tenuous at best.

“His conduct wasn’t necessarily a technical violation of any code or existing law,” Chapman said. “But common sense had to prevail.”

The rifle-toter was clad in all dark clothing, told police he was a “CIA man” or Secret Service agent and that the AR-15 was his “prop.”

Somewhat alarming was that the man made statements about “having to defend himself,” and was accompanied by an individual who was wearing body armor.

An AR-15 assault rifle.

Chapman said he chose to act on what might have been advance signs of an impending incident – signs which law enforcement and other authorities have been castigated for ignoring prior to recent mass shooting incidents.

“My fear was that if he walks away, loads that gun and shoots somebody, the issue will be, ‘the police knew.’”

APD told him he could reclaim the rifle after Halloween was over, but at press time, the individual’s weapon had not been returned to him. Chapman said that the man is required to present APD with proof that the federal Department of Justice has cleared the weapon for return.

Meanwhile, a Second Amendment activist group called The Calguns Foundation has filed a Public Records Act request with the City for details of the AR-15 confiscation. The group is known for filing lawsuits against municipalities for what it believes are gun rights violations.

APD Lts. Bart Silvers and Ryan Peterson monitor the Plaza action (and a basketball game) inside the Critical Incident Response vehicle at the temporary command post at Eighth and G streets.

Another person who felt ill-served by police on Halloween was International Superclown Shea Freelove. He was arrested on suspicion of public drunkenness and jailed after a sub-optimal encounter with what turned out to be a Eureka Police officer.

Freelove, who is concerned about evolving regulations governing public fire art in Arcata (Eye, Oct. 24), said he simply wanted to discuss the regs with an officer.

Wrote Freelove on his Facebook page, “I approached the police blockade around the Arcata Plaza with a question regarding the new fire performance regulations. An officer pushed me in the chest and almost knocked me down. I came back later to ask the same question and an officer grabbed me by the throat and pinned my arm behind my back and immediately put me in handcuffs. I was left in the police car for over an hour before being put in a detaining room. Four hours later I was released without charges. Hello, police state.”

Fire artist and International Superclown Shea Freelove with assistants. Photo courtesy Shea Freelove.

Chapman said APD had no details of the encounter, since Freelove was initially contacted by an EPD officer, then turned over to APD for booking. An EPD spokesman said that department had no details either, referring inquiries to APD.

According to public records, it was Freelove’s fifth arrest since 2001. Three were for disorderly conduct, one for DUI, plus the Halloween drunk in public arrest.

While Freelove’s plight drew many expressions of sympathy and solidarity, Brigit Fraga, reflecting the sentiments of many friends and allies, offered Freelove some toughlove and a reality check:

“Shea, I love ya, but I also know you, and you love to freak people out and cause a ruckus wherever you go. I’m pretty sure you didn’t think you were going to have a lovely conversation about future fire shows when you went and talked to the cops. Keep it real. You wanted to be annoying and irritate the cops. I can’t get to het up about privileged white kids in a bumfuck college town dealing with ‘police brutality’ when they choose to repeatedly bug cops in the middle of Plaza Idiot Hour. Next time, call the police station and make an appointment so they will take you seriously and you can make real plans about this fire show you are hoping to have. Nonetheless, it really sucks that you were roughed up and I am sorry to hear that. But quit being facetious. Everyone knows you well enough to know that you weren’t actually thinking that being drunk on a crazy night in the Plaza was a good time to chat up the cops. Or, if I am right and you are loving every second of this drama, keep it up. All the world’s a stage, am I right?”

Officer injured

Perhaps the most grievous incident was one which took place outside Don’s Donut Bar.

Responding to a fight there, officers took a woman into custody as the usual crowd of drunken agitators surrounded them, hollering.

Individuals Chapman described as “a couple of jerks” threw bottles at police, one of the bottles striking an officer in the face.

Chapman would not disclose the officer’s identity, but it was Det. Sgt. Todd Dokkweiler, who heads up APD’s Special Services division. Dokkweiler, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was assisting with enforcement duty that night.

The bottle split Dokkweiler’s upper lip all the way from the base of his nose to his mouth, causing a deep gash that required subcutaneous tissue to be surgically mended even before the skin could be sewn up.

Dokkweiler is back on duty this week with his mustache shaved and the lip stitches apparent. “I have a tooth that isn’t where it used to be,” he said. He will bear the facial scar from the bottle for the rest of his life.

Dokkweiler previously earned recognition for saving the lives of two women during the Feb., 2011 fire at the Tea Garden Apartments. Using his body as a “human ladder,” he bodily spanned a gap between a retaining wall and a balcony to allow the women to climb down to safety.

APD has initiated an investigation and is reviewing video surveillance from cameras in the area in an effort to identify the suspects. If that fails, APD may issue a public appeal for tips, with a reward.

Officers huddled under pop-up tents as drizzle dampened the Plaza on Halloween.

All in all, meh

So, while arrests were down from last year, the Plaza wasn’t trashed and no one fell off of or got peed on from McKinley, “I can’t say it was successful,” Chapman said. He ballparked the cost to the City of the additional enforcement at $3,000 to $4,000.

Mayor Michael Winkler said he was disappointed that the City had “come down heavy handed because we didn’t see an alternative.”

The morning after Halloween, dawn’s rosy fingers found Big Bill unscathed and still wearing his San Francisco Giants beanie.

“The police presence was necessary, but it is NOT a long term plan,” said Councilmember Susan Ornelas,  I am sorry to have let the ball drop on the ‘alternative’ party, as I thought it was moving forward, but was mistaken. An HSU student tried to put together an alternative celebration at the last minute, but unfortunately he applied for permits too late – there were fire and safety issues, etc. I hope to see an alternative gathering planned earlier, and intend to help plan it this year!”

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21 Responses to “Halloween Bacchanal Spares McKinley, Disfigures Policeman – November 7, 2012”

  1. how much does it cost to run the generators that power that giant "incident response" vehicle? When I went to look at all the kiddos at 5:00 it was running and seemed to be consuming quite a bit of unnecessary energy….did I pay for that?

    #64546
  2. Anonymous

    No Alicia, you did not pay for that. Taxes, which students generally do not pay a whole lot of paid for the fuel used to operate the vehicle. The vehicle, while parked, does not use any fuel save that which the generator uses (about 1 and 1/2 gallons per hour.) slightly more than you use when listening to a stereo while using your computer to complete your homework, and keep up on Facebook with your many friends. That vehicle served as a hub to provide a communications hub for our city's peace officers. Those same officers that gave children a car free Plaza to trick or treat and whom were the subject of a bottle throwing mob of criminals.

    #64554
  3. Anonymous

    Does it trouble anyone else that a person was injured? A person that risked his life to save lives? Where is the outcry from the kind hearted, compassionate and ever passionate people of Arcata? I am troubled that the gravest concern has been the expenditure of fuel. What of the fact that glass, cans, and stones were thrown? What of the general wanton disregard for others well-being that for so very long was the one thing Arcata would never have let itself be known for? The injured officer, (you know the one that has been recognized for saving lives) could have just as easily been killed by a bottle. What does this say that Arcata has devolved to such a state that this has become a part of our history?

    #64555
  4. Kevin Hoover

    Yes, Alicia. The fuel expense and rental of the lights would be part of the total cost. The lighting was seen as a deterrent to foul play.

    #64556
  5. Kevin Hoover

    dangercat, you should use your real name when posting. That's why I installed Facebook commenting. Also, Alicia isn't just a student. She is a working Arcata person who pays taxes.

    #64557
  6. Ian Ray

    Why should I care what a cat thinks? Cats don't pay taxes.

    #64558
  7. Ian Ray

    Why should I care what a cat thinks? Cats don't pay taxes.

    #64559
  8. I am surprised that there haven’t been any comments on the confiscation of the rifle….

    #64561
  9. Then you do not know Arcata…
    The illegal confiscation of a lawfully possessed weapon, be it a knife or a firearm, diminishes the RIGHTS of everyone.

    #64564
  10. Mark Sailors I agree with you. Based on the published information the police had no legal justification to sieze the rifle.

    #64565
  11. I would think that the weapon in question will remain in police custody until a lawsuit is filed and won.
    This is the same town that just passed Measure H, illegally declaring that corporations do not have the rights that the supreme court of the USA ruled they have already…

    #64566
  12. If that is what is necessary, so be it…

    #64567
  13. Kevin Hoover

    Law Center to Prevent Gun Confiscations Please use your human name when posting. Thank you.

    I have a question for you and Sailors. Had you been a police officer seeing James Holmes walk into the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado with a weapon, would you have confiscated it or let the 12 people get slaughtered to prove a point?

    #64569
  14. Kevin Hoover

    Mark Sailors Mark, as time goes on, it seems that virtually every Facebook comment you make includes "[blah-blah] is illegal (or incompetent) and should be sued." How about changing it up now and then?

    #64570
  15. [...] Halloween Bacchanal Spares McKinley, Disfigures Policeman – November 7 … Halloween Bacchanal Spares McKinley, Disfigures Policeman – November 7, 2012. Wednesday, November 7, 2012. Halloween started off delightfully enough, with hundreds of children trick or treating on a car-free Plaza. Photos by KLH | Eye. Arcata Main … Read more on Arcata Eye [...]

    #64571
  16. Kevin Hoover, do you value your right to post or say whatever you like? How do you feel about being free from your possessions seized by an agent of our government? Using the Aurora tragedy as an example is disingenuous. The theatres in Colorado were posted “no firearms permitted” in compliance with Colorado law, and law enforcement would have been properly enforcing state law had they prevented James Holmes from entering the facility. In this case, the second amendment is not an issue; the issue is the 4th Amendment. Under California law the police had every right to momentarily detain the gun owner, just long enough to determine that the firearm was indeed unloaded, at that point the contact should have ended and he should have been permitted to go on his way, with his property. He wasn’t arrested, he isn’t accused of any crime, they seized his property because they didn’t like it, which is not an adequate reason to deprive someone of their property, and cause them to incur expense to recover their property…

    #64576
  17. Andrew Isaac

    Man comes to a crowded place, on a night where disguises and unusual behavior are condoned carries a real weapon, and real ammunition. Claims he is carrying the weapon in his capacity as a government agent, but apparently cannot explain why the CIA or Secret Service is on the Plaza on Halloween, with a high powered rifle, accompanied by someone wearing body armor. I think APD's judgement was excellent, that the totality of the circumstances created an exigency that justified the seizure of the weapon. I think the individual could have been detained until his claim of being CIA or Secret Service, and of carrying the weapon and ammunition in that capacity was verified. See, for instance (non exhaustive list) Penal Code Sections 148, 148.9, 538.

    #64578
  18. Kevin Hoover

    My response is simply that APD may have averted a massacre, which may not fit in with your lofty-anonymous theories, but it works for me. Also, unless you can bring yourself to use your name, I invite you direct your wisdom elsewhere.

    #64581
  19. Ian Ray

    While I think open carry is a good thing and that people should be able to tote even loaded weapons like Nevada, there seems something subjectively different about dressing like a Federal agent and carrying an assault rifle to the plaza… That just doesn't seem right. He should be given his firearm back but I don't think the police were totally out of line intervening. If he was just carrying his firearm around in any other situation, I don't think the police would/should have cared at all.

    #64582
  20. Kevin Hoover So your attitude is Damn the Bill of Rights & the Constitution, the police may or may not have accomplished something. I decline your invitation…

    #64583
  21. Kevin Hoover

    My attitude would be more accurately characterized as one which prioritizes responsibility, attribution and real-world, small-town values. Mr. AR-15 was not any part of a well-armed militia, so the Constitution isn't imperiled. And since I wouldn't hold a conversation with someone wearing a bag over their head, I see no reason to continue to do so here.

    #64585

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