Police seek charges against vandalism suspects

The Huntington Beach Police Department is seeking charges against two Occupy Orange County members suspected of vandalizing a Chase bank, sources with knowledge of the investigation said.

Police Chief Ken Small said the man and woman who walked into the Chase branch at 16917 Algonquin St. on March 13 and vandalized it with trash and graffiti had, before the incident, identified themselves to police and city officials as Occupy members.

"My personal belief is they have the right to express their political agenda, but don't have the right to engage in criminal conduct," Small said. "It's our intention to aggressively enforce violations of the law. If somebody holds up a sign that had a political or personal agenda and they go out and break the law, we're going to deal with the violation of the law.

"They're still entitled to their opinion, but we're not going to allow them to break the law to get their message across."

Small would not identify the suspects.

The offense is considered a misdemeanor and if the district attorney's office files charges, a letter will be sent to the suspects informing them of a court time and date.

If they do not show up at the scheduled time, a warrant for their arrest will likely be issued, Small said.

Attorney Greg Diamond, a press liaison for Occupy, but not its official legal counsel, posted on Facebook that some of the group's members were believed to be behind the vandalism.

He said their actions, if the allegations proved true, did not reflect the goals of the movement.

The Chase branch's manager declined comment.

Occupy members had announced plans to ask the City Council on Monday to consider issuing them a permit to camp out for longer than what is usually allowed by city policy.

"The longest we've ever allowed people to camp is two to three days," Small said. "If they want to camp out longer than that, it must be addressed by the City Council. It's more of a policy question than a staff decision."

No Occupy members showed up to speak, however.

The group began protesting at Yorktown Avenue and Main Street on March 6, a day after a few members spoke to the City Council about their plans to come to Surf City. They were later asked to move near the beach.


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