Dave Rice, an OBcean and current blogger for the San Diego Reader and former writer for the OB Rag was assaulted yesterday – August 29th – while covering a story about the mistreatment of Hilton Hotel employees. He was assaulted by men who work for the hotel.
Here is a report from the San Diego Free Press by Doug Porter on Dave Rice’s experience:
Mission Valley mayhem… A press conference being held yesterday by the Employee Rights Center to air charges that the hotel’s operator, Connecticut-based HEI Hospitality, had been named in a complaint alleging wage theft totaling approximately $250,000, was disrupted by loud music apparently at the direction of hotel management.
Reporter Dave Rice, whose account of the incident is online at the SDReader, found the source of the noise behind a hedge over a hundred feet from the presser. Photographs published with the story clearly demonstrate the Hotel’s involvement:
When I walked around the corner to ascertain the source of the music, I found two men next to a limousine with large speakers aimed at the crowd and a power cord leading back toward the hotel. As I snapped a photo with my phone, three other men wearing business suits who had been standing near the building entrance quickly approached.
I was grabbed by the arms by two of the men, one of whom tried to wrench my phone from my hand and throw it to the ground. The third appeared to be filming the incident on a phone camera. After a brief struggle and explanation that I intended to resist their efforts to destroy my property, one released me and I broke the grip of the other. …
Rabbi Laurie Coskey, representing the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, closed out the program.
“Before I can bring the support of the faith community to the workers at this hotel, I need to witness [situations such as] we are experiencing at this very moment,” Coskey said over the din coming from the Hilton lot.
“The music is amplified so that we don’t hear the voices of the people who work here, and it has been our experience that we have made several delegations to this very management, who have also amplified their deafness in order not to hear the pleas of the people who work here.”
Following publication of yesterdays’ story here (at about 8 am)about the abusive practices of HEI/Hilton towards their employees, we at SDFP observed frequent visits to our website by corporate officials from both companies, a clear indication that they were aware of the impending press conference.
The mid-day media event put a human face on allegations that the company violated California’s labor laws by not paying workers fully for their hours worked and repeatedly denying breaks and rest periods, with a hotel housekeeper and restaurant employee braving the obvious attempts at intimidation to tell their story. The tactic of blaring loud music was being used to make any video or audio footage of the press conference unsuitable for airing.