John Story had some bad news for us about the memorial benches yesterday.
John is the son of George Story, whose memorial bench at the foot of Del Mar Avenue in Ocean Beach was stolen exactly one month ago. Both the Story bench and the memorial bench for “Butch” Cappellucci were taken off the bluff by neighbor Robert Bryson on July 8th. Bryson, who lives just north of the small bluff lot where the Story bench had been for over ten years, had paid a junk yard dealer with a crane $300 to illegally remove the benches. Bryson has admitted all of this to the police.
A representative of the District Attorney’s office called John Story on August 8th, and informed him – to his shock – that the DA would not be prosecuting Bryson. When Story asked why not, he was told that the police could not determine the ownership of the benches.
This incredulous turn of events was forecast by the City’s ambivalence towards the benches ever since they were removed by Bryson and George Gonzalez, the owner of the crane and junk yard. Legendary TV consumer activist Michael Turko had been instrumental in finding and then returning the benches to their rightful spots.
John Story was almost speechless when he called the OB Rag last night. “We went through the City. We did everything the City wanted us to do. The City placed the bench there.”
As Turko would say, “It ain’t right!”
Here is the DA’s website – perhaps we could complain.
Both the Story’s and Cappellucci’s benches were installed by the City of San Diego. Both families were assured by the City that everything was kosher; the families had paid for the benches originally and had donated them to the City. The City placed them on the public right-of-way on the bluff overlooking the cliffs. The Story bench was placed at its spot ten years ago. The Cappellucci bench had been there for about two years.
For the DA and police to now say that Bryson will not be prosecuted flies in the face of all logic and common sense. To use the excuse that the police cannot determine ownership of the benches makes this all seem like a Hollywood farce. And as John Story commented, “This opens the door for anyone to take other city properties, ….”
The benches were donated to us – the people of San Diego and the people of Ocean Beach. A man stole them from public property. The man admitted as such. And now our “protectors” refuse to do anything about the thefts.