Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

‘Occupy San Diego’ Arrestees Forced to Urinate and Defecate while Detained in Bus

November 10, 2011 by Brett Wilkins in Police Brutality, Protests with 0 Comments

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has admitted to forcing ‘Occupy San Diego’ protesters arrested last month to urinate and defecate while detained in buses and vans.

(Photo: Occupy San Diego)

According to San Diego City Beat, the department has ordered a formal internal review of the October 28 arrests of 51 ‘Occupy’ demonstrators. The Sheriff’s Department acknowledged the complaints lodged by some of the arrestees who were forced to relieve themselves on buses and vans, calling them “unusual” and “unfortunate.” It issued the following statement:

On October 28th between  2 a.m. and 6 a.m. the Sheriff’s department provided a bus and two vans for prisoners arrested at the Civic Center by the San Diego Police Department. During that time 51 individuals were taken into custody, 36 men and 14 women. The men were placed in a Sheriff’s bus and the women were put in Sheriff’s vans to be transported to the Vista Jail and Los Colinas Detention Facility for booking.

During that time there were no restroom facilities available for arrestees, forcing some of them to relieve themselves as they sat on the bus or van. For the Sheriff’s Department to provide mutual aid in this kind of mass arrest circumstance is not unusual; this unfortunate result is very unusual and it is currently being reviewed. The Sheriff has directed that a Critical Incident Review be conducted internally. Also, the Sheriff’s Department and the Police Department will conduct a mutual debrief to examine in detail how the operation was handled. From those reviews we will determine how to improve our practices to assure that this does not happen again.

For anyone who wishes to file a formal complaint, here are their options: First, they can file a complaint with our Internal Affairs office. Complaint forms can be obtained any Sheriff’s facility or on-line at Second, they may file a complaint with the County Citizens Independent Review Board. Complaint forms may be obtained on line at the same website. Or they may do both. Whether they complain or not, the matter is being carefully and critically reviewed and treated seriously. The men and women of this Department take pride in acting with the highest level of professionalism and treating those in their charge with respect.

According to Crooks and Liars, arrestees described being detained for between four and eight hours on a bus and in a van, the former for men and the latter for women. There was no restroom access; deputies ordered the detainees to relieve themselves on the spot. At least one woman was seen defecating in the van.

This is ironic, since it was ostensibly unsanitary conditions at the ‘Occupy San Diego’ encampment in Civic Center Plaza and Children’s Park that led to the arrests in the first place.

“We received complaints from the facility staff regarding human and animal feces, urination, littering, drug use and damage to city property,” Assistant San Diego Police Chief Boyd Long explained at the time of the raid.

In other ‘Occupy San Diego’ news, attorneys representing the demonstrators held a press conference yesterday to announce their intention to file for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the City of San Diego and the San Diego Police Department for violating the First Amendment rights of protestors. The San Diego Reader reports that spokesperson Ray Lutz compared the city’s encroachment ordinance that police to selectively cite persons placing any item on public property  to forbidding beach-goers to leave a towel on the sand while going for a swim.

“Free speech can be subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions,” attorney Bryan Pease said, “but you can’t have an ordinance that’s so overbroad, that puts so much unlimited discretion in the police department that they can tell anybody they want that they can’t put a sign down and in effect create a basically free speech free zone where there’s no free speech in the Civic Center Plaza and push everybody out into the street.”

Lutz called the city’s encroachment law “unconstitutional.”


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