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La Playa Carmel Siege, Day Two: Increased Police Pressure
Former workers, and their union representatives from Unite Here Local 483, continued a two-day "siege" of La Playa Hotel in Carmel on July 21. The second day saw a stronger police presence than the first, with authorities placing increased pressure and demands on demonstrators. The first day of the demonstration was held continuously for 12 hours from 7am to 7pm on Friday June 20, and Saturday's demonstration continued the "siege" for another 12 hours. The demonstrations were planned to send a strong message to the public to boycott the hotel until management rehires the over 100 workers who lost their jobs after the recent change in ownership and subsequent remodeling of the facilities. [scroll down for photos and videos]
The second day of the La Playa siege closely resembled the first; groups ranging from 20 to 50 hotel workers and community members, along with Unite Here Local 483 union organizers, formed a circular picket line in front of the lobby of the hotel, maintaining a presence there for 12 hours. People marched, waved signs, and sang songs and chanted in support of the former workers who want their jobs back.
On Friday, the previous day of the siege, California State Assembly Member from the 28th district, Luis A. Alejo marched the picket line, as did Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker and the Mayor of the City of Marina, Bruce Delgado. Demonstrators reported that Parker and Delgado returned on Saturday morning to resume picketing.
Falling on a Saturday, the second day of the siege differed from the first in that demonstrators faced increased pressure on the part of La Playa management as well as officers from the Carmel Police Department.
At 1pm, two Carmel-by-the Sea Police Department patrol vehicles were on site, and police officers were assisting arriving hotel guests and fielding questions from members of the community who were passing by. The officers were personally escorting people inside the hotel, and if there were complaints, the officers were very polite and apologetic. As cars drove by, some stopped, and as officers patiently explained what was going on they chatted casually for significant lengths of times on occasion; they also allowed those complaining to block traffic.
There was a different standard for those participating in the demonstration. One woman offering fliers with information about the boycott was told by Carmel police officer J. Boucher that if she continued to approach vehicles she would be cited for being in the roadway. The presence of paved sidewalks is rare in the neighborhood in which La Playa is located, but sidewalks do surround the hotel side of the street on all four sides.
Officers then communicated to a representative from Unite Here who was performing the function of a liaison between the authorities and the union; they informed her that the drums being used in the demonstration were too loud and that the group was in violation of Carmel's noise ordinance. The police stressed that hotel management didn't call to complain, but that it was residents who live across the street from the La Playa lobby. When she agreed to ask the drummer to stop, the police left.
The authorities returned at 6pm after a call from hotel management with regards to what police described as an incident where two demonstrators were attempting to access the hotel's property in some undisclosed (to the public) manner. The officers referred to the incident as "trespassing", though the legal conditions of how that trespassing occurred were not shared with the public. Trespassing usually requires that a person who accesses private property be asked to leave before the act is legally considered trespassing, and community members participating in the demonstration were concerned that the legal conditions of trespass were not met. At a previous La Playa demonstration in June, a demonstrator was arrested for "trespassing" which labor representatives claim was falsely done, saying he did nothing the day he was arrested. The labor representative in charge of the demonstration during the second day of the siege told police that she didn't think that anyone had trespassed that day either, but officers were prepared to move forward with the theory.
"I don't think that happened," the event organizer said.
"Well, they wouldn't tell us that if...they have witnesses. They have witnesses." officer Boucher responded. "They tried to get in....You should probably keep better track of who is around here."
"I don't believe that that happened, they say we trespassed [before] and we didn't last time either," the organizer continued to defend the group. "He was arrested for something he didn't do."
Another officer coyly responded, "That's not up for us to decide, it is for the courts."
Yet it was they, the Carmel Police who were the ones making the call whether or not arrest individuals, and they were not presenting organizers with information that positively showed that someone had met the legal conditions of criminal trespass.
Officers then addressed the issue of what they called noise, insisting to the organizer that, "you are basically a loud party." When the union representative asked how it was determined that they were being too noisy, officers told her the nose limit was 60 db, but then later admitted they didn't know what the exact figure was. They then told her, "If you want to push the issue, we will be more proactive, we will cite people for being in the roadway, we will cite people for making noise....we don't want to have to do that....you're pushing."
Officers then changed the subject to the issue of what they called "people in the roadway."
"If you can't safely make your circular pattern, then stop your circular pattern," they told the union organizer, who responded, "So we can stand with our picket signs?"
"No, you can't do that," the officer said.
The organizer was unclear about what he was saying. "OK, then we need to keep on moving, right?"
"I'm not telling you how to do your protest," the officer responded.
"But you are telling us how not to do it," the organizer said as she kept seeking clarification.
"Yes, because you are violating the law," the officer countered.
"What is unsafe about this? We are watching for cars," the organizer pointed out. The union organizers standardly assign multiple individuals as official traffic control officers for the group at their public demonstrations.
"Do we have to wait until somebody gets hit by a car? We have to work together and you are not willing to work with us. I am making suggestions and you are just arguing with me," the officer said as he started to become very impatient.
"I have shown that I am willing to work with you guys," the organizer said, referring to the multiple and extensive conversations she had that day with authorities.
"Earlier I had an issue, there was a lady...she kept running out in the middle of the street [handing out fliers]...I warned her if she kept doing that she was going to get cited," officer Boucher stated, holding the organizer responsible for all of the parties in attendance at the demonstration. "As a leader here you have to keep these people under control...You've been given that task."
Then came a major statement from police: "You have to be a mediator with these people....like we have to be a mediator with them [hotel management]," which implied the hotel's management had a special relationship with the police that the demonstrators did not also have.
The police also spoke in terms of restricting the boundaries of the demonstration to the area in front of the La Playa lobby, complaining that "people" involved with the demonstration were accessing the street on the other side of the hotel. The union organizer pointed out that the group had been given permission to use the front yard area of a house located across the street from the hotel by the homeowner, Clay Ramsay (See http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/07/27/18718406.php)
This appeared to fall on deaf ears, suggesting that demonstrators, who in this case were legitimate "house" guests of a Carmel resident, were not being treated the same as the "paying" La Playa guests.
Finally, the police returned to the issue of the "noise" and asked for those with musical instruments (or perceived musical instruments) to stop using them. Officer Boucher explained that in Carmel, "music isn't allowed." The chapter on noise in the Carmel municipal code indeed states that no instruments of any kind are permitted to be played outdoors anywhere in the entire city.
Carmel Police appeared to apply the law inconsistently when they insisted that demonstrators stay out of the road entirely, while allowing those complaining (both on foot and in cars) about the demonstration to block and or enter the roadway for lengthy periods at times. La Playa Hotel is located in the center of a large residential area of Carmel-by-the-Sea that is supported by very narrow streets. Pedestrian activity is almost a constant in the residential neighborhoods, and locals and visitors alike very commonly are prone to walk down the center of the street to get from one place to another.
This uneven application of the law flies in the face of the long established conventions of daily pedestrian life in Carmel, and the complexity of that pedestrian life in the area is specifically addressed on the police's website, which offers "protections" for people in the roadway and states, "We strongly encourage all motorists to drive CAREFULLY AND SLOWLY on the streets of Carmel. In many cases it is prudent to drive slower than 25 miles per hour due to narrow or winding streets. The beauty of our village makes it appealing to walk and every day there are people (often accompanied by a canine!), walking on a road that has to be shared between pedestrians and cars. Many streets are narrow or have reduced width due to cars parking on the both sides of the street. Some streets wind around trees or other landscaped islands."
In addition, the police claim that demonstrators trespassed and that there were "witnesses" is curious, considering the protections for peaceful labor demonstrations in the Carmel municipal code, which is written as follows:
"9.28.010 Unlawful Acts.
"It is unlawful for any person to remain in or upon any business premises after being notified by the owner, lessee or other person in charge thereof to remove therefrom. Further, it is unlawful for any person, without permission, express or implied, of the owner, lessee or other person in charge of business premises, to enter upon such business premises after having been notified by the owner, lessee or other person in charge thereof to keep off or keep away therefrom. (Ord. 232 C.S., 1971; Code 1975 § 693).
"This chapter shall not apply in any of the following instances:
"C. Where its application would result in an interference with or inhibition of peaceful labor picketing or other lawful labor activities."
There is also a chapter in the municipal code that protects those distributing fliers (to some extent):
"9.44.030 Placing in Vehicles.
It is unlawful for any person, either directly or indirectly, to distribute, deposit, place, throw, scatter or cast, any handbill in or upon any automobile or other vehicle; the provisions of this section shall not prohibit the handing, transmitting or distributing of any handbill to the owner or other occupant of any automobile or other vehicle. (Ord. 235 § 3, 1940; Code 1975 § 1012)."
After the lengthy discussions, a police officer photographed the demonstrators.
To read more about the first day of the siege, see:
Boycott in Carmel: La Playa Hotel Siege, Day One
For more information about the boycott of La Playa Carmel, see:
For more information about Unite Here Local 483, the labor union that has represented hotel and restaurant workers in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties since 1937, see:
Union Busting Has Got To Go!
Do you like the union? Yes!
Do you like the union? Yes!
What about La Playa? No!
Two pedestrians walking by La Playa, complaining to Carmel police as they all stand in the middle of the road.
Two pedestrians walking by La Playa Carmel, complaining to police.
Carmel-by-the-Sea Police officer J. Boucher would take his bicycle gloves off when relaxing, but when he neared demonstrators, he would put them back on.
A hotel guest wearing socks and smoking was afforded the uninhibited luxury of the outdoor lobby area, without interruption by the hotel's security. He came outside three times to smoke and watch the demonstration.
Carmel Police exiting La Playa Hotel
I was the only person singled out in the demonstration and photographed separately by the Carmel Police.
Carmel Police Photographing La Playa Hotel and Workers Boycott Demonstration
Pedestrians approach Carmel Police in front of La Playa Hotel for information.
After the Demonstration, Carmel Pedestrians Walk Past La Playa Hotel in the Middle of the Road.