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Updated: Police Apologize for Protest Outside Wells Fargo CFO's Home

San Marino Police Department Chief John Schaefer apologized in a message to residents Thursday for the police not taking a more proactive approach to stop the Refund California protest outside Wells Fargo CFO Tim Sloan’s home Wednesday night.

Updated Thursday at 4:35 p.m.

Following a lively but non-violent protest Wednesday night by about 100 people from the Refund California Coalition outside the San Marino home of Wells Fargo CFO Tim Sloan, responded in an email message to residents Thursday.

"They were illegally protesting on this man's property and stomping on his front yard," Schaefer told Patch Thursday. "They could lawfully assemble in the street as long as they weren't disturbing the peace."

Schaefer said the SMPD recently discussed San Marino residents that could possibly be targeted as part of Occupy L.A. protests and Sloan was one of the residents on the SMPD's list. The SMPD discussed a possible course of action in the case of Occupy L.A.-type protests in the city, but Schaefer said that plan was not consistent with what happened Wednesday night.

"Normally law enforcement would know if protesters were going to show up," said Schaefer. "Arrests could have played out if we could have gotten other officers there ..."

Schaefer told Patch that SMPD and officers were occupied during Wednesday's protest with other calls such as a report of smoke coming out of a manhole cover that turned out to be unfounded, a power outage at the Huntington Drive and San Marino Avenue intersection and a domestic violence incident.

One SMPD officer was present and stayed in his patrol car outside the home for most of the protest, which lasted about 30 to 45 minutes, and eventually asked one of the organizers to move the group’s charter bus and vehicles parked on Woodstock Road, which does not allow street parking, .

Vehicles from various news outlets were also parked on Woodstock Road.

Four cars from the South Pasadena Police Department, who was called in to assist, arrived at Virginia Road and Shenandoah Road near the scene shortly after the protesters started to disband.

No arrests were made and no cars were ticketed.

"We want to allow people to do what they can legally and not allow them to do what they can't do legally," said Schaefer.

The following is Schaefer’s entire message sent at noon Thursday via email to CLEARS subscribers:

Residents:

Last night, the San Marino Police Department was called to a protest that was occurring at a private residence on Woodstock Road.   Upon arrival, additional support was called in from neighboring communities to assist with disbanding the crowd of approximately 80 to 100 individuals, including the media and children. The San Marino Police Department identified and contacted one of the lead organizers which ultimately resulted in the protesters returning to their vehicles and leaving the area. Approximately one hour after their arrival the protesters left the property. There were no injuries or arrests at this incident.

I am extremely disappointed that the protesters breached the property and conducted their protest in the front yard of the homeowner.

This is unacceptable and despite the peaceful outcome and the restraint exercised by our police officers, I would have preferred a more proactive approach and in the future our officers will act to better protect property and if neccessary [sic] arrest protestors who violate the law.

I have been in regular communication with the homeowner and would like to publicly offer my apology for the antics employed by the protesters and for our delay in preventing this situation. I am currently reviewing this event with my executive team and officers in an effort to make sure that our response to matters such as this fully protect the rights of the residents we serve.

Should anyone have any concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

John T. Schaefer

Chief of Police

Jack October 08, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Curious where you were during this incident? You knew it was coming- you knew it got out of hand- you are the Chief- where were you?
David Lewis October 13, 2011 at 06:56 PM
I read Mitch Lehman's article about this event in today's San Marino Tribune. There were a lot of things wrong with this group's taking their protest onto this private property, but I am more outraged by Mitch's typically irresponsible, irrelevant statement that "one source told the tribune that several of the protesters have been identified as members of Organize for America-President Barack Obama's campaign organization-and the discredited ACORN." Isn't this the same bank that had a senior executive residing in a foreclosed-on Malibu estate not too long ago?
James Todd October 25, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Poor rich people! My crocodile tears are almost running. This is an absolutely understandable and rational response to the concentration of wealth at the expense of the rest of us. And yes, this Chief should be ashamed; ashamed that he is the apologist and apparently a private security guard for the richest 1% who create conditions so abhorrent that normal citizens are willing to risk arrest to make their point, Tim Sloan's "lawn" be damned.
David V. October 28, 2011 at 07:03 PM
http://www.salon.com/2011/10/28/wells_fargo_is_not_your_amigo/ Here is more information on Wells Fargo and its practices that might be of interest to readers who are concerned about the affront to Mr. Sloan's gorgeous lawn.

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