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San Diego council aide suspended for comments about protesters

San Diego council aide suggests shooting protesters and is suspended without pay for two weeks

A San Diego City Council member has suspended a staffer without pay for two weeks for referring to police-conduct protesters as idiots and suggesting - in jest - that she wanted to shoot them.

The comments were made after a council meeting Wednesday in which two dozen protesters indicated opposition to the decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and New York not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men.

Children in the group wore black sweat shirts with the phrase: "Don't Shoot."

In the moments after the meeting, Shirley Owen, staff member to Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, reportedly told a friend that the protesters were " ... idiots" and "I wanted to shoot them."

On Friday, Zapf, in a statement, announced Owen's suspension and said the comments were "extremely insensitive and in no way reflect my beliefs or the values of my office."

The statement quoted Owen as apologizing for an "offhand comment...I should not have said it. It was wrong and in incredibly poor taste."

Owen is a liaison to local nonprofit groups and helps organize community cleanups and Neighborhood Watch efforts, according to Zapf's official website. Owen does volunteer work and is active in her church, according to the site.

The comment came to light when it was overheard and reported by KPBS in its coverage of the council meeting at which Zapf and three other council members were sworn in.

Zapf, in her second term on the council, represents a district that includes Point Loma, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach.

"As the first Latina elected to the City Council, I am acutely aware of the interaction between law enforcement and our communities," Zapf said in her statement.

Discussion between law enforcement and the public is "a highly sensitive national conversation, which is in no way helped by flippant remarks."

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