An altercation between police officers
and Democratic supporters attending a San Diego fundraiser was
motivated by anti-gay sentiment, San Diego Democratic Club officials
Police were called to the private home
of a lesbian couple hosting a fundraiser for Democrat Francine Busby
on June 26. The San Diego Sheriff's Department said they were
responding to a noise complaint filed by a neighbor.
Witnesses claim Deputy Marshall Abbott
frightened twenty-five supporters when he struck Shari Barman, the
sixty-year-old host, throwing her to the ground and then pepper
spayed the crowd. Barman was taken into custody.
“He told me I was under arrest,
grabbed my right arm, twisted it behind me and threw me on the
ground,” Barman said in a statement released Monday. “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.”
Busby, a longtime gay ally, is
campaigning for California's 50th Congressional District,
a seat currently held by Republican Brian Bilbray of Carlsbad.
During the event, a neighbor
interrupted Busby as she spoke. The heckler called her a “loser,”
and several witnesses say they heard anti-gay comments and profanity.
“To say that we are outraged with the
behavior of Sheriff's Deputies and the expenditure of thousands of
dollars of taxpayer money on what we believe was a bogus,
politically-motivated alleged 'noise' complaint would be an
understatement,” Larry Baza, president of the San Diego Democratic
Club, said in a letter asking for a full investigation to be headed
by the state attorney general.
Both the San Diego Sheriff's Department
and the District Attorney's office are looking into the incident.