CITY COLLEGE STUDENTS, JOURNALIST ALLEGEDLY BATTERED
By Marco Siler-Gonzales & Audrey Garces
City College journalists are alleging police brutality and misconduct at the hands of sheriff deputies during a protest that ended in 33 arrests, including one minor, at City Hall on May 6.
Some 100 protesters amassed at City Hall just after 6:30 pm to demand Mayor Ed Lee to fire San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr. The protesters risked arrest when they entered a side door of City Hall to occupy the front entrance, then stayed past the building’s closing time of 8 p.m. and ignored several dispersal orders issued over a megaphone by a sheriff’s deputy.
Guardsman photojournalist Gabriella Angotti-Jones said that authorities in riot gear began arresting protesters just before 9 p.m. While photographing a female protester being detained, her legs were kicked out by two officers who then dragged her away from the detainee she’d been photographing, Jones said.
Jones, who said her press badge was hung around her neck, told the two officers that she was with the Mission neighborhood newspaper El Tecolote and they released her.
Meanwhile, fellow Guardsman photojournalist Natasha Dangond jumped down from the desk she was shooting pictures from to alert the officers that Jones was with the press. Seconds later, Dangond said a sheriff’s deputy grabbed, twisted and pinned her against the same desk she had just been standing on.
Video footage shows that the deputy roughly grabbed Dangond and shoved her against the security desk at the front entrance of City Hall. The deputy, identified by multiple sources as Scott Osha, then struck the back of Dangond’s head with his baton in the video.
Dangond was then pulled over the desk and out of frame by a supporter to get her out of the way. Dangond’s press credentials were not visible and said she did not have time to show them before the deputy grabbed her.
Dangond later went to the UCSF emergency room where she was cleared of a concussion, but treated for contusions on her arms and head.
El Tecolote photographer Joel Angel Juarez said his press credentials were around his neck when he was pushed to the ground by a sheriff’s deputy while taking pictures of the protest.
48 Hills reporter Sana Saleem was recording on the front line of the protest when an officer pinned her against the security desk.
“What happened to the photographers is outrageous, any interference in their reporting is an infringement on their rights.”
—journalism department chair Juan Gonzales
“I alerted him (the officer) that I was with the press and that he was hurting me, but he kept pressing his baton against my chest,” Saleem said.
The protesters behind Saleem started yelling at the officer that she was not a protester. “He then put his entire weight on me and told me I could not go anywhere because the protesters are in the way,” Saleem said.
Saleem later went to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital where she was diagnosed with a cracked rib that she said will take nine weeks to recover from.
Journalism Community Responds
“What happened to the photographers is outrageous, any interference in their reporting is an infringement on their rights,” Juan Gonzales said, who is the City College journalism department chair. “The journalism department, on behalf of The Guardsman and in coalition with 48hills.com and El Tecolote, will file a joint complaint to the sherrif’s department.”
The sheriff’s department will provide a phone number and address to anyone who wishes to report police misconduct. “We are encouraging all four, and anyone else who feels that they were treated inappropriately during the demonstration, to file a complaint with our internal affairs office,” said Eileen Hirst, spokesperson for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.
Hirst also told the San Francisco Chronicle that she saw deputies using batons to corral the crowd out of City Hall, but did not see any deputy strike any protesters or journalists.
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