Who is The Naked Swimmer?
On January 30th, a community at the brink found cause to boil over in protest to the increasing population of street kids. On this day in Ocean Beach, a very intoxicated man swam naked near the pier. He resisted arrest next to the seawall on Newport and Abbott, which is just about as public of a spot as OB offers.
However, the intoxicated man, who I have referred to as The Swimmer in a previous post, was not a street kid.
Stephen Morse is a clean-shaven, 6 foot 200 pound college student. The 19-year-old has a role in the student government at San Diego State. He is a recent transplant from the state of Washington, where he went to high school, and was on the local school football team.
Morse was charged with resisting arrest (penal code 148) and public intoxication (HS 11550). He was bailed out of jail straight away, and is awaiting his court date.
He fared better than the other two men who were arrested that day. 39-year-old Yorik Hancock, a homeless man and parolee, was arrested for battery (Penal Code 245a1). He was throwing bottles, and one tube of deodorant, at the cops, supposedly in defense of Morse, who he did not know. Since Hancock was on parole, he was immediately put in jail.
Jeffrey Nason, 23, was also arrested. Nason’s story was written about in detail in a previous post. He spent five days in jail, and then all charges were dropped against him. Like Morse, he was also taken in for a Penal Code 148 violation, which is resisting arrest and interfering with police activity.
Neither Nason nor Hancock had anyone to bail them out of jail. Their actions to defend Morse against what they saw as unfair treatment were questionable – throwing a stick of deodorant at a policeman is probably never a good idea. Their motives, however, were sound.
Unlike Morse, whose motives, other than possibly wanting a tan where he didn’t have one, are unclear. According to witnesses and police, Morse was highly intoxicated, laughing and smiling as he resisted police efforts to clothe him. Morse ended up being tased and put in the back of a police car.
What was a funny and embarrassing debacle for Morse is now a damaging situation for the street kids of Ocean Beach. Most of them are traveling, staying in San Diego during the winter, and returning north in the summer. Morse’s very public arrest has put them in a bad place, as the seawall is now highly patrolled and business owners on Newport have pegged the members of this diverse group as scapegoats for property destruction and impropriety.
Jay, a street kid in Ocean Beach, puts it succinctly:
“The people that are the most vulnerable – homeless people, minorities – get the brunt of the system, always.”
Even when the actual offender is on the student government.
The Reader Plugs OB Rag on Original Naked Swimmer Article
Moss Gropen, a stringer for the Reader, went to great lengths the other day to give our blog lots of props on Nate Hipple’s post. Thanks Moss. Here’s the beginning of his article:
“How Many Cops Does It Take to Get a Naked Man Out of the Water?”
That’s the reaction of a poster on the OB Rag website, who added, “I bet Southeast San Diego wishes they could get this much manpower when there is a shooting in their neighborhood.” Indeed — how many cops does it take to “secure” the beach from a skinny-dipper? That was one of the questions posed by the OB Rag’s coverage of a recent Taser take-down by the San Diego Police Department. On January 30, the online Rag headline read, “Breaking news on Newport, naked man nearly incites riot.” Putting aside the awkward grammar, one might also ask: Was it the nude dude — or the men in blue (black, actually) — who did the inciting? As with any incident involving the use of force by the police, it depends on who you ask.
According to the Rag, the man waded into the water …
for the remainder of the article, go here.