Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Strickland Fracas Brings Criminal Charge

Earlier this month we covered a Ventura County story involving the Chief of Staff to Assembly Member Audra Strickland playing the big heavy for Strickland's husband who is running for the State Senate. Criminal charges have been filed against Angeles and here's here's what those involved sent to the press...Sara

On June 17, 2008, approximately 55 men, women and children assembled at the Westlake Hyatt Hotel to protest a $50,000 contribution that the Ventura County Republican Central Committee received from the tobacco industry for the perceived benefit of Tony Strickland’s campaign for State Senate. Many of the protestors had lost family members from lung cancer. All shared a common interest that opposed the tobacco industry’s attempt to sway the local political process by making such a large contribution.

As we entered the only public access to the protest area along Westlake Boulevard, the group was challenged by Joel Angeles, Chief of Staff to State Assemblymember Audra Strickland, who warned us to turn back. “You are atheists,” he shouted. “You are not Americans – you are cowards.” And then came the ultimate threat. “If you step foot on this curb, you will go down.” He held his outstretched had in front of him in a manner known to signify “halt.” This conduct was memorialized in a photo that ran in The Ventura County Star newspaper.

Our group was stunned by hearing such untruths and un-American language. But, thinking that the agitator could not be seriously making such blatantly illegal threats, in the best tradition of American democracy we proceeded with our lawful demonstration. It turns out that we misjudged the intent of the public employee we faced, who had every intention of carrying out his threat.

Several members of our group, including Louis J. Pandolfi, a Simi Valley Republican and organizer of the protest; John (Jack) B. Phillips, a minister, senior citizen and Vietnam veteran from Camarillo; and Sandy Quiring, a recent high school graduate from Simi Valley; stepped onto the sidewalk and all three were promptly knocked to the ground by
Mr. Angeles. Ms. Quiring, thrown into the shrubs, sustained minor cuts to her arms and Mr. Phillips suffered a rotator cuff injury. Mr. Pandolfi immediately called 911 and summoned the Sheriffs.

The assaults and batteries were witnessed by not only dozens of citizens present at the event, but also by members of the press.

These were attacks not only on our persons, but also on our cherished American freedoms. Americans have long fought or lost loved ones in the struggles to establish and defend our Constitution and its Bill of Rights, including the one so blatantly violated on June 17th, 2008 – the right to express ourselves, by public protest, and to speak our opinions.

Jack Phillips, a 1962 Naval Academy graduate, was awarded the Bronze Star in Vietnam, following a family tradition of service to flag and country going back to the Revolutionary War. Sandy Quiring is from the newest generation of patriots. Sandy just graduated high school and is headed for a Political Science major in college, facing the future with wide open eyes and a desire to immerse herself in the great political process of our country.

Today, we have said we can not turn our backs on those who have given of themselves over the centuries to defend our Constitutional rights. Today we have said that a government employee who is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to work for the taxpayers of our great state who are having so much trouble making ends meet, cannot get away with lawlessness in promoting his political beliefs. Women, men and children were prepared to peacefully demonstrate against the tobacco industry in the spirit of democracy.

Today, we have filed criminal complaints against Joel Angeles and we have demanded that the Sheriff’s Department investigate the allegations and forward that investigation to the District Attorney for prosecution. In filing these criminal complaints, not only have we presented to the Sheriff our victim statements, but we have also provided the Sheriff with Declarations from eleven witnesses who have prepared their Declarations of Fact under penalty of perjury.

We have put our faith in the fair and impartial legal system in Ventura County, a system to which we have all looked to with pride for many years. Today, we ask that justice be done, not just for the victims of Mr. Angeles’ violence, but for the free speech and freedom of assembly rights in our Constitution, for which so many others have given their last, full measure.

We can do no less on behalf of the American democratic system.

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Anonymous the chupacabra said...

While the guy deserves to be prosecuted reading the self serving account makes me want to push someone in the bushes. As for sending that account to the press it guarantees they will be using the police report for any quotes. Of course the person who spent the time writing that drivel will be upset their version wasnt printed.

7/24/2008 10:17 PM  
Anonymous shoreline shark said...

Agreed that this press release is just plain embarrassing. It reads like a bad crime novel. Suggested new opening line: "It was a dark and stormy night ..."

Also, from reading this it doesn't sound like charges have been filed yet, just complaints.

7/25/2008 2:19 PM  
Anonymous blog queen said...

I don't think the release was professionally written. It apparently came from the protesters themselves and not from anyone's campaign, which is how it should be.

No, charges haven't been filed yet. Only a complaint.

7/27/2008 6:19 PM  

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