I just spoke on the phone with Francine Busby, a previous and once-again Democratic candidate for California’s Fiftieth House District, about Saturday’s raid by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department on a fundraiser she held, in which multiple people were pepper-sprayed and a hostess was arrested after a neighbor made a noise complaint.
Busby strongly denied that anyone at the fundraiser did anything to provoke violence by the sheriffs. (For their part, the sheriffs claim that somebody kicked an officer.) And she put the blame squarely on a neighbor who heckled the crowd, then called the sheriffs to complain of loudness from Democrats.
“You could hear his voice very clearly, it was loud. But as far as the actual words, I didn’t hear them,” Busby explained. “I heard my name, and obviously derogatory words. Other people heard profanity, and somebody heard something about gays, as well.”It should be noted that the event was hosted by a lesbian couple.
“The deputies were telling people that they were taking statements from, that the call came in about noise from a Democratic rally, or Democratic demonstration,” said Busby. In fact, she said, she had last spoken at about 8:30 p.m., and the police arrived an hour later when most of the attendees had left. “It was a nuisance-noise call, because there was no noise, and the fact that it was described as a Democratic rally or demonstration indicates to me that this person was calling for his own political motives.”I asked her about a statement from one of the arresting officers, Sgt. Thomas Yancey, that Busby herself should have shown leadership in keeping the crowd in order. She obviously disagrees. “Because first of all, nothing was happening until this woman was arrested. He put her in a restraint-hold and she fell to the floor,” she said. “I walked in when all the confusion started, and he was spraying pepper spray in all their faces…and frankly someone told me, ‘You need to get out of here,’ because it was out of control. He was not listening; there was no controlling this person. The people who asked him to stop hurting this woman were pepper-sprayed without warning, there was no talking to this man.”
Busby made it clearer to me that these were not the sort of typically rowdy political demonstrators. “They were middle aged and above. This is not a rowdy crowd,” she said, also adding: “Only one person said it reminded her of something in college. They had never seen something like this.”