LUTZ FILES CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT AGAINST BUILDING MANAGER OVER ARREST WHILE REGISTERING VOTERS AT CIVIC CENTER PLAZA

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

 

Goldman Sachs is majority owner of property management firm headed by Senator Feinstein’s husband

Story by Miriam Raftery, photos by Ron Logan

November 30, 2011 (San Diego) –Startling ironies came to light today in the case of Ray Lutz, an East County political activist and former Democratic Congressional candidate arrested yesterday for refusing to move a voter registration table out of the Civic Center Plaza.

Police have said they responded to a citizens’ arrest initiated by the operators of a privately owned building at 1200 Third Avenue. That building is owned by CB Richard Ellis (CBRE). 

“Its majority owner is Goldman Sachs. Its other owners are hedge fund managers, banks,” Lutz said at a press conference tonight,where he announced that he is filing a lawsuit against CBRE alleging false imprisonment to suppress his efforts to register voters near the Occupy San Diego protest, inspired by Occupy Wall Street. “These are the Wall Street entities that have screwed up our country over and over," Lutz declared.

He added, "They knew that I was registering voters here n this area—and they decided to do what was unspeakable in this country. And that is to deny people their right to register to vote.”

Former city attorney Michael Aguirre, who last night told ECM that he believed the arrest was illegal, is representing Lutz, the activist said.

Lt. Anda Brown with San Diego Police told ECM that Lutz was arrested “based upon his refusal to remove his property from the private property, not his act of registering voters.”  During the Occupy protests, police have maintained that anyone who sets down tables or other objects in the publicly owned portion of the plaza will be subject to arrest. 

Brown said the arrest was “not ordered within the SDPD” and added that she was not aware of any consultation with city officials prior to the arrest. “Once made, the arrest was approved according to standard SDPD protocol,” she added.

“I knew if I moved in the City area they would arrest me right away,” said Lutz, noting that another case challenging that is already in federal court.  So he set up in the private are directly behind the public section. After registering five voters and with a line of other people waiting to register, Lutz was arrested.

Lutz notes that 91 percent of the CBRE building is leased the the City and that the plaza functions as the center city square of San Diego. He cites the landmark California Supreme Court Case, Robins v. Pruneyard, which held that people have a right to register voters even on private property, such as inside a shopping mall, if that property is open to the public and thus functions as a public square.

Police note that even Pruneyard gives property owners the right to control the time and manner of registration activities.  But is it reasonable to deny a table and chairs for voter registration efforts as a “manner” of registration activities?  Would forcing people registering voters, and the voters themselves, to stand be a violation also of the Americans with Disabilities Act?  Is it reasonable to expect those registering voters to carry all belongings for a full day, such as boxes full of registration forms, signage and more, never touching the ground?   That is what a judge must now decide.

Another bizarre irony is that the Chairman of the Board at BCRE, the company that arrested a Democratic activist involved in voter registration, is none other than Richard C. Blum, husband of California’s Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.  (It is not known whether Chairman Blum knew or approved of the citizens’ arrest of Lutz). 

“A couple of Democratic ladies were so angry when they found out that they marched down to Feinstein’s office,” attorney Rachel Scoma with Canvass for a Cause told ECM. She did not know the outcome .

This morning, a group of activists decided to register voters first on public property at the plaza, and then on private property at the same place where Lutz was hauled off by police.  This time, the outcome was far different. “They’re still there tonight, registering voters,” Scoma told ECM.

Why the change of heart? 

Mike Garcia, a La Mesa resident, said activists were met by Assistant Chief Boyd Long this morning before unfolding their table.  “There were about 20 occupiers,” he recalled.  After the Chief went inside to talk to building management, the group waiting about 20-25 minutes before patience wore thin and they set up the table.  The Chief had given him a cell phone number, so Garcia called.

“He said we are not going to arrest you, but it will be up to the management,” he  recalled.  Outside, police were met with a “mic check” human microphone repeating the news. View a video of the clash: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/nov/30/occupy-san-diego-protestors-clash-police-over-vote/

 “So we sat there all day and registered voters,” Garcia told ECM late this afternoon. “I would say we registered somewhere around 30.” 

Lutz said he has registered voters many times at other public locations without the restrictions imposed by the city of San Diego.   

Scoma, too, says no permit should be needed and tables should be allowed.  Her organization has engaged in voter outreach on numerous occasions.

“We would never get a permit to register voters in a public area or in an area in accordance with Pruneyard,” she maintained. “When Target, a private corporation, didn’t want us there, we didn’t get handcuffed and arrested, we took it to a civil level.  They lost, but it didn’t go to a criminal level,” she reflected. “This just shows how police treat people associated with the Occupy movement.”

The group has vowed to return every day to register voters at the busy Civic Center Plaza.   They are there independently of Lutz, they say—and they are willing to risk arrest for the sake of their principles.

Lutz justifies filing a lawsuit against the building’s management company “because these people have hurt me and these voters who are trying to register to vote,” he concludes, “which is sacrosanct in our democracy.”

 

Comments

voters

The irony here is that the politicians that the occupy movement criticizes is the group voted in mainly during the most recent midterms. Part of the 99% voted them in. Did the occupiers vote? If not, then they need to take responsibility for this. Regardless, the 99%, which includes the occupiers, need to take accountability for voting in the politicians that create the policies that they are against. The politicians that were voted in have adhered pretty closely to their campaigning views, so no one should act like they were deceived.

Citizens Oversight

Hey Ray already looking to see what people are saying? It is the Civic Plaza, not Freedom Plaza, I mean really grow up. You have it under siege with all your little thugs. I am anything but ignorant and the City of San Diego wishes you'd go away. My comments are the truth. Why don't you post your financial records like you are demanding of a little coffee cart? Anyone in your way you just want to destroy. Shame on you. This is what democracy looks like? Go home Ray and stay there, your all washed up. Freedom=Jail, you have nothing on MLK or any great leader. PLEEEEASE.

Ray Lutz Terrorizes Downtown Businesses

You closed a Coffee Cart and a Hot Dog Cart and you run WikiCops which directs the Occupy movement. Now you go after the owners of the Civic Plaza Building after you send them letters to close their door if they don't like your noise. You are causing civil unrest and your proud of it? Nothing like a looser politician. Go home Ray or better yet go drown your sorrows in Johnny Brown's, the bar in the Plaza, the only business you haven't taken down yet. Funny isn't it? Washed up, old and an idiot. Two feet away is public property, which you could have set up on, but being arrested is so much more drama. I guess you made your point, not un-like the beggars in front of Von's. WOW. You are a disgrace as YOU hide behind your own CORPORATION. Go Duncan Hunter!

Citizens Oversite Project

Thanks for mentioning the Citizens Oversight Project http://www.citizensoversight.org/ which exposes all the corruption in our local government.

It is common to fear what you don't understand, "Unity1". But you shouldn't let your fear turn to hatred and name calling. Your ignorance is evident, and you lack enlightenment, but this is a curable disease. Come down to Freedom Plaza and we will help you get the education you deserve.

Courage is Contagious

It seems obvious that no Tea-Naggers would ever try to register people to vote, they hate our government, and fear people getting involved in democracy. Such neoconservatives would only collect your personal information to commit voter fraud, for they fear registering those who would vote against them. Only someone who understands that democracy is for everyone, that it is inclusive, secular and liberal, would willingly volunteer to register random people to vote. It takes someone with courage, someone with passion and integrity, someone who cares about liberty and knows that democracy requires participation, and that if you do not use your freedom, you loose it.

Ray Lutz is such a person, he sees what is wrong with our system, he sees the wizards behind the curtain, pulling the strings, paying their thugs. Ray knows who is suppressing the 1st Amendment Rights of protesters at 'Freedom Plaza' in San Diego.

Will Ray Lutz ever stop fighting for the citizens of San Diego? Will Ray Lutz ever stand by and watch as our rights are squashed by the police? Might as well ask if the sun will stop shining, or the rain will stop falling. We have a few heroes left, Ray shines on us, bring the storm.

Actually, the TPers were out

Actually, the TPers were out in full force getting people registered to vote before the midterms. I'm surprised you didn't run into any of them. Interestingly enough, it was primarily republican voters (the TPers are pretty much a part of the repubs) that voted in the midterms, so it must have worked. Gotta wonder where the TP opposition was during the midterms, right? The issues the country is facing in terms of income disparity, etc., were very apparent during the midterms...the occupiers are a little bit late with their protesting.

Registering Voters Is a Commendable Act

Whoever considers voter registration an act unworthy of a citizen should be grateful that Ray Lutz performed that task. In our republic, the main route to expression of one's pain or satisfaction is registering to vote, then using that vote to elect candidates who most represent one's values. Ray saw a group of people who were unregistered but had complaints, so he helped them reach out to use the fundamental tool of democracy, their vote. Passionately held values that are being ignored by the powerful require people like Ray Lutz to help them assert their right to be heard.

Please keep dialogue civil, Craig.

 

We welcome opinions, comments and criticisms on all sides of the spectrum, but our forum rules prohibit name-calling or profanities.  Since deleting this comment would also delete the reply,  I've left it up this once but would ask that in future this courtesy be extended by all who post here. We are trying hard to encourage civil conversations even when people disagree on issues. Thanks.

Hmmm

How is it possible to sit on your butt all day at city center and still have a job or attend school?

This Ray Lutz is a publicity whore...and it looks like he found an attorney that likes to whore himself out also.

No profanity or name calling, please.

Our forum rules ask for civil dialogue. Repeat offenders will be banned.

We do welcome dissenting views, as long as people are polite to all on our forum. Thanks.

 

How it is possible

We Occupiers at Freedom Plaza work in shifts, some occupy the morning, some occupy the night, some occupy lunch, some occupy the general assembly. That's how we still have jobs, and attend school. (I know you lack the imagination to figure it out, Betty. I just wonder how you know so much about whoring?)

Freedoms and rights are

Freedoms and rights are becoming lost to Americans at an alarming rate. So many laws and one may be arrested for nearly anything! Yet astonishingly enough, the government sends soldiers (some to die & others wounded emotionally/physically) to fight wars in other countries for the sake of Democracy, Rights, and Freedom from oppression! Go figure...

"Civilization is the encouragement of differences.
Civilization thus becomes a synonym of democracy.
Force, violence, pressure, or compulsion with a
view to conformity, is both uncivilized and undemocratic".

Mohandas Gandhi