Morning Report: Seditious Language Tickets and the Problems With 'Low-Visibility Policing'

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Morning Report: Seditious Language Tickets and the Problems With 'Low-Visibility Policing'

The San Diego Police Department / Photo by Megan Wood

Half of the San Diego police officers who wrote tickets for seditious language — a law the City Council recently repealed for its blatantly unconstitutional nature — have also been accused during their careers of violating people’s rights in complaints or lawsuits

A third of the officers were involved in shootings, suggesting there’s an overlap between officers involved in excessive force cases and those willing to punish speech they find personally offensive.

Voice of San Diego intern Kara Grant reviewed public records and talked to lawyers and researchers, who described seditious language tickets, though still on the municipal code when issued, as a low-visibility form of policing that should have gotten more scrutiny from within the department.

Sedition is generally understood as speech advocating to overthrow the government.

Yet officials removed the language from the municipal code last month in response to Voice of San Diego reports showing that several people ticketed said their only crime was talking back to officers. One man said he recited rap lyrics out loud and didn’t even know officers were within earshot. 

  • Police accountability was on the minds of Rep. Mike Levin and his challenger for the 49th Congressional District seat, Brian Maryott, Kayla Jimenez reports in this week’s North County Report. Levin said at a forum that he’s proud to have police support and doesn’t believe in the push to defund police but that he supported the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to curb misconduct. Maryott said he doesn’t support national legislation addressing police reform. Young activists in North County, meanwhile, don’t believe politicians on either side of the aisle are doing enough to embrace their desire to see police accountability reforms.
  • Fox 5 reports that the La Mesa City Council this week narrowly voted to create an independent community police oversight board. Jimenez revealed earlier this week that Oceanside mayoral candidates are split over whether the North County city should establish an independent, citizen-led group to dig into police misconduct.

About That Strip Club …

The stabbing of Padres outfielder Tommy Pham outside a San Diego strip club last weekend left some wondering what strip clubs were doing open during a pandemic that left schools and other parts of society largely shuttered.

Turns out strip clubs – like Pacers Showgirls – with permitted, inspected kitchens are allowed to operate under rules for restaurants, but live entertainment remains prohibited, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Performers can act as waitresses if they follow food safety rules. Pacers Showgirls appears to have done much more than that in recent months and is now being scrutinized by the city and county health officials, a county spokesman told VOSD. The other scenario that could make live entertainment permissible under existing state rules would be if strip clubs opened with a drive-in theater format, the spokesman added.

County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten ultimately decided Pacers Showgirls wasn’t playing by the rules. She sent Pacers Showgirls a cease and desist letter noting that San Diego police had recently inspected the strip club and found it was “conducting live entertainment in violation” of state and local public health orders. She wrote that the strip club must comply with those orders or risk criminal misdemeanor citations with fines of $1,000 per violation, or the county taking action to shut down the club.

News Roundup

  • KPBS profiled the two contenders vying to replace District 7 City Councilman Scott Sherman and six others seeking seats on the San Diego Unified School Board.
  • 10 News checked on Balboa Park upgrades and renovations that have been quietly happening during the pandemic.
  • County supervisors this week voted to dole out another $24 million in federal coronavirus funding to support food banks, businesses and more, NBC 7 San Diego reports.
  • Starting today, the city will resume parking enforcement it dialed back following March stay-at-home orders.
  • NBC 7 reports that 19 Point Loma Nazarene students have tested positive for COVID-19 and dozens more who had close contact with someone who is infected are in quarantine or isolation.
  • County supervisors voted Wednesday to purchase land to expand an open space preserve nearly Valley Center, according to City New Service.
  • Following the Supreme Court’s Tuesday decision to halt the U.S. Census, the Union-Tribune revealed that  20 census tracts in the San Diego area have response rates under 50 percent including a northwest portion of Oceanside, Mission Beach and Borrego Springs.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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