A San Diego activist, Steven Holman participated in a checkpoint protest in Escondido (north San Diego county) on February 11, 2011. Mr. Holman is part of a phone tree that notifies activists when a checkpoint is announced on the Natural Rights Coalition Facebook page. The page is managed by another activist, Matt Bologna and helps organize people for such protests. Usually, some members will drive around to anticipated checkpoint sites until they find it, then notify the others to congregate a few blocks ahead of the checkpoint with signs.
On this particular occasion, 12+ activists held signs saying “Checkpoint Ahead” or “Car Thieves Ahead” and other similar warnings.
All night, Steven watched as Officer S. Walters, #307 pulled people over for turning right just before the checkpoint, regardless of whether people had been influenced by the signs. Many people were arrested and had their cars impounded for reasons unrelated to DUIs. Steven was unable to talk to many of the people who were arrested, as they were taken away, but this is what he learned from the few passengers he was able to speak with. From what Mr. Holman witnessed, there were no DUI arrests at the checkpoint itself, and only one DUI arrest the entire night. Mr. Bologna was able to catch many of the encounters on video.
Later in the night, when the number of participants started to dwindle, Steven decided to wrap up the protest and make his way home. He went to the crosswalk and pressed the button. He chatted with a friend as he waited for the light to turn, and when he began to cross, the crosswalk sign was flashing a red hand. Although it is perfectly acceptable to cross the street when the hand is still flashing, out of an abundance of caution, Steven decided to wait. He pressed the button yet again and waited for the “walk” sign to appear. When it did, he made his way across the street.
At this time, Matt, who had been recording the events of the night stopped recording because he received a phone call. As soon as S. Walters #307 saw that Matt had stopped filming, he sped out of the parking lot where he was parked, and pulled up alongside Mr. Holman, nearly hitting him. S. Walters #307 declared that Mr. Holman was being detained, and cited him for jaywalking, despite the presence of 5 witnesses who would be able to testify that no such thing occurred.
Mr. Holman will be fighting the ticket. All the witnesses have agreed to testify. One witness was not a part of the activism, but happened to be sitting in the parking lot at the time. Mr. Holman finds S. Walters #307’s actions shameful. “His actions were petty and did nothing but reinforce our position that this system of governance is broken, and moreover is fundamentally flawed. His actions could not be justified in any way and in fact could only be understood in the context of someone who was trying to stifle dissent.”
The video below was taken by Matt and begins immediately after Mr. Holman is detained.
For more statistics on the Escondido Police Department, go to Naturalrightscoalition.org.