Council Member Lorie Zapf Suspends Staffer After Comments

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Dec. 12, 2014 (San Diego) Council Member Lorie Zapf has suspended Shirley Owen for two weeks without pay after comments made over the peaceful protest during council inauguration. KPBS reports that they were “idiots” and she “wanted to kill them.”

Given that the group of about 25 protesters had young children that was going over the top. Given the protest was silent and interrupted nothing that was a denial of the First Amendment. These were comments made to a friend of Owen’s.

The press release reads as follows:

A few days ago a member of my staff made a grossly inappropriate comment to a friend about individuals who were peacefully protesting at a City event. Her words were extremely insensitive and in no way reflect my beliefs or the values of my office. Ms. Owen has been suspended without pay for two weeks

As the first Latina elected to the San Diego City Council, I am acutely aware of the interaction between law enforcement and our communities. Ensuring that there is accountability and trust between those groups is paramount. This is a highly sensitive national conversation, which is in no way helped by flippant remarks.

In addition, Owen has issued the following statement:

I sincerely apologize for my comment Wednesday. It was an offhand comment to a friend about the protest, and I should not have said it. It was wrong and in incredibly poor taste. I apologize to all I have offended, and especially to the protestors who were exercising their First Amendment rights by peacefully demonstrating.

What is striking is that over the course of the say this story was first picked up by Raw Story and then Huffington Post. What is also striking is the contrast between Council Member Todd Gloria who acknowledged the protesters from the Dais over his Twitter account, and Owen’s reaction.

The contrast is deep and also reveals another division in how to deal with these matters. The sentiment that has driven many people to the streets is a similar sentiment that drove people to the streets during the first Civil Rights movement. Moreover, Mark Jones does not believe it is enough, He represents the College students and members of the community who were part of the silent protest. He told Reporting San Diego “we are seeking immediate termination of Owen and racial and human rights sensitivity training for Lorie Zapf and her whole staff.”

Editorial note: This came after we ran the story. These are hard words, but relevant to the theme at hand.

According to Catherine Medonca of United Against Police Terror San Diego: “The issue stems deeper than protecting ones own right to protest, its the lack of regard for black and brown lives. Its a local and national issue, the San Diego Stolen Lives is why we are in solidarity with the national movement. The sentiment about “shooting protesters” is the same attitude of white supremacy where people have lost their lives by police terror. We demand justice for the more than 200 victims murdered by San Diego Law Enforcement”

Twitter: @nadinbrzezinski

Facebook: Reporting San Diego

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Categories: City Hall Politics, civil rights

2 replies

  1. KPBS broke the story originally, but we did confirm with activists that they still want her fired. Just for clarity sake.

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  1. San Diego City Council Staffer 'Wanted to Shoot' Police Brutality Protesters in City Hall

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