Our VoiceImmigration

San Diego Congressional Candidate Intimidated by Sheriff’s Dept.

Katie Bezrouch • Jul 03, 2009

On June 26 a sheriff’s deputy walked into a democratic fundraiser in a private home and pepper sprayed the attendees, most of whom were over 50 years old.

Francine Busby is a Democratic candidate running in 2010 for congress in California’s 50th District (including San Diego). In 2006 she lost the same seat in a controversial race against Republican Brian Bilbray. The Republican National Convention put 5 million dollars behind Bilbray’s campaign because of Busby’s growing popularity. Brian Bilbray is the chairman of the anti-immigrant House Immigration Reform Caucus and a staunch advocate of John Tanton’s anti-immigrant movement. The local minutemen chapter often praises him on their website.

Last Friday, one of Francine Busby’s supporters hosted a fundraiser in her home for the campaign. Ms. Busby made a brief speech in the host’s backyard, which ended at around 8:45 pm. The noise caught the attention of a neighbor who was so angered by their gathering, that he felt it necessary to shout derogatory comments about the candidate and homosexuals.

Around 9:30 pm a police officer named Marshall Abbott walked into Shari Barman’s home without warning, and asked for the homeowner. The host gave him her name but declined to share her date of birth, and the officer became aggressive towards her.

According to the Barman, “He told me I was under arrest, grabbed my right arm, twisted it behind me and threw me on the ground. Some of the 25 or so people who were still in attendance observed what was happening and started asking the deputy what was going on. My partner, Jane Stratton, asked him to please be careful as I had recently had right shoulder surgery. His response was to knock her to the ground. At this point, some of the guests attempted to come to my aid and to Ms. Stratton’s. Without warning the deputy started pepper spraying everyone, even those who were simply standing in the area.”

A neighbor that attended the gathering said she was taken back by the police officer’s overreaction. She left before the deputy arrived and was shocked to find eight to 10 patrol cars and a helicopter outside.

Ms. Barman believes that she is being charged not because of the volume of her gathering, but because a politically motivated complaint sparked unlawful violence from an officer. She suspects charges were brought only in order to cover up Deputy Abbott’s unprofessional behavior.

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