About 30 people rallied at the City Council meeting Monday night
to condemn the recent arrest of a protester, claiming Costa Mesa
police selectively enforced laws and shut down a peaceful
Speakers crowded City Hall to speak out against the arrest of
Costa Mesa resident Naui Huitzilopochtli during a July 4 protest at
Niketown. Huitzilopochtli was booked on suspicion of assault and
battery after allegedly throwing red paint at a man. He denied the
allegations on Monday.
Audience members defended Huitzilopochtli, saying he was
wrongfully detained during a peaceful assembly, while three
unidentified men -- who allegedly yelled derogatory remarks at the
protesters and kicked their signs -- were never cited.
Rosalinda Ramirez, of Anaheim, said she was verbally assaulted by
the three men, who allegedly yelled racial epithets at her and made
lewd sexual remarks. When Ramirez confronted the police to press
charges, she was ignored and threatened with arrest, she said.
“I was treated like a criminal when I was, in fact, the victim of
a crime,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said police refused to allow her to file a report at the
scene and told her she would have to take her complaints to the
department. At the same time, officers responded to the complaints of
the three men and subsequently arrested Huitzilopochtli, Ramirez
Mayor Linda Dixon assured audience members that the allegations
were being investigated by police officials and a report would be
presented to the council in the near future.
Costa Mesa Police Chief Dave Snowden confirmed the complaints were
under investigation but defended the actions of his officers.
Huitzilopochtli was detained under a citizen’s arrest, Snowden
said. Officers were required to arrest him at the request of the
three men. Snowden said Ramirez did not request a citizen’s arrest.
“If she would have placed them under citizen’s arrest, they would
have gone to jail,” Snowden said.
Huitzilopochtli, who said he was on site to hand out fliers for an
upcoming and unrelated protest on school mascots, joined the Niketown
protest because he believed in the cause. He said he was not only
disappointed in the officers’ conduct regarding his arrest, he
criticized the police for stopping the protest and violating his
right to assemble.
“I just think every time you protest, they treat you like a
criminal instead of congratulating you for exercising your First
Amendment rights,” Huitzilopochtli said.
Demonstrators congregated at the base of Niketown in Triangle
Square on July 4 to protest the alleged use of child labor and worker
Niketown officials could not be reached at press time.
Snowden said protests are generally disbanded when they become so
disruptive and unruly that business cannot be conducted in a normal
Answers regarding the protest, arrests and lack of arrests will be
detailed in an upcoming staff report to the City Council. City
officials have yet to announce when that report will be presented.
* LOLITA HARPER covers Costa Mesa. She may be reached at (949)
574-4275 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.