The truth is out there. And like the poster on Fox Mulder’s wall, we, at the OB Rag, aim to find it.
I’m referring to the rumors that have been flying around our little beach community in regards to all the assaults, sex crimes and attacks that have been occurring in alarming numbers here the last couple of months and even longer. Most of them are true, but some of them just ain’t.
It seems that we hear of an incident, and within 24 hours, we “hear” of several more. In response to all of this, many of us have formed the OB Citizen’s Patrol, along with the guidance of Tim Nolan, owner of Tower Two Cafe.
The first meeting was on October 8, and over 30 people crammed into Tim’s resto to voice their concerns and sign up for the first organized patrols since the 1970’s. Tim said it started way back then in response to local crime and the time had come again to relaunch the patrols. Tim was involved back then, and has been patrolling ever since. He has gone out on his own for many years to make the neighborhood safe for his family.
It all started with the outrage by citizens at the Town Council meeting on September 27, where many women and men got up and spoke about how they were either attacked themselves, had friends or relatives that had been assaulted, or were just in fear of walking anywhere alone anymore. One woman spoke of taking a taxi just 4 short blocks to her house from Newport, because she knew it wasn’t cool walking alone right now.
Out of that meeting, a few days later, the OB Woman’s Club held their own meeting where many that I had seen at the Town Council meeting showed up to seek solutions to this town’s problems – problems that the police do not seem able to mostly solve on their own. The police had a barrage of accusations thrown at them at the town council meeting, and they were nowhere to be seen at the Woman’s Club that evening.
That was the evening that Tim Nolan brought up the idea of reforming the OB Citizen’s Patrol. Everyone there seemed to think it was a good idea. From there we all decided to have a meeting for just the OBCP the following week at Tim’s place. At that first meeting, we signed people up who were interested in patrolling on Fridays and Saturday nights, for a 9-midnight and a 12 am to 3 am patrol. In groups of 2-3 people each. I signed up tor the 9-12.
About 6 people showed up for that first patrol on the opening night of our Oktoberfest on Friday. I went out with Tim and his dog, Jack. We went up and down alleys on the north side of OB where most of the incidents have occurred, and met up with the others from the patrols in the middle of the alleys in an organized manner. Tim end I found several women walking alone, and some of them still had no idea about our crime wave.
I didn’t go out on the later patrol, but Tim decided that is the time that is the most crucial and now they are patrolling in the middle of the night. More like a midnight to 3 or 4 am session. If interested in patrolling, or if you have suggestions, or just want to hear what is going on, show up on Tuesday nights at 7 pm at Tower Two Cafe. And Tim freely gives out his cell so you can call him anytime and ask when the next patrol is going on if you want to participate. His number is 619-559-6236.
We are handing out flyers for merchants to put up in their windows, basically saying the OB Citizen’s Patrol is out and watching. And we have another flyer that is warning women about being aware of their surroundings and not walking and texting or listening to your iPods when walking alone at night … or during the day right now.
Phillip Gordon of the Vault Combat Academy inside OB Surf and Skate is offering free self defense training just for women every Sunday from 10:30 am to noon. Why more women don’t take advantage of this I don’t know. The community is truly coming together in many different ways right now and it is uplifting to see this.
Now, to get down to the truths and the rumors. The first patrol was on opening night of the OB Oktoberfest. As I was leaving the beer garden in the parking lot next to the pier to go to the first patrol, I saw first responders had rolled up to the exit of the beer garden. Station 15’s firetruck was there and so was an ambulance, along with the police. I asked one of the security guards what was going on, and they said a stabbing. I saw them wheel a victim out and into the ambulance. I asked the firefighter what was going on, and he said a stabbing, and that the victim will be ok, but he couldn’t tell me anything more.
When I reported that story to the San Diego Reader, the editor asked me if this was the stabbing under the pier. I said I didn’t know how it occurred, only that it had. He said the Union Tribune was reporting it was a man and woman under the pier, being attacked by a gang of about 5 individuals who stabbed the man, punched the woman in the face, and stole her backpack. Since my editor couldn’t confirm what the UT’s source was, he went with my story. What strange timing as I was just on my way to do that first patrol!
I have now heard that the pier stabbing was a “traveler group on traveler group” crime. Travelers are the kids that stay at the hostel, or possibly some of those kids that seem homeless, but have cell phones, credit cards and sometimes dogs with them. My son calls them gutter punks. This version was told to me by one of our writers here at the Rag, Chris Dotson, who has been in contact with Lt. Natalie Stone of the SDPD.
Then we heard there was another stabbing the following evening, again after the crowds from Oktoberfest poured into the bars, but we didn’t have any details yet. It then unfurled that there was some guy with a knife that had been causing trouble on Newport. There was some large crowd in front of Cheswicks that their bouncer was trying to disperse, which I guess upset the knife wielder, and he stabbed the bouncer in the stomach. Not life threatening, but bad enough for sure.
Rumors were flying that the cops didn’t show up until many minutes after being called, and that people who were eyewitnesses to the cause of the problem felt the tardiness of the police allowed the attacker to get away. We found out later that that wasn’t true, he had been wrestled to the ground (by whom seems to be elusive) and that the cops did show up in time and arrested him. I was told that a server from Nicks and some guy who worked in one of the liquor stores had jumped on the guy and held him till police arrived, but I have not been able to confirm that rumor.
A female friend of mine who was out and about on Saturday night’s Oktoberfest told me that most of the guys she talked to were from Pacific Beach. Many had rode in on their bicycles, but many were bused in from PB. Supposedly, this practice has been going on here a long time. Get bussed into OB, get drunk, get bused out. Are any of these guys causing problems? Who knows.
Then I hear from a neighbor, that at the same time as the Cheswicks stabbing is occurring, that some mini riot broke out around the corner next to The Arizona Cafe and Winstons. At least she gave me the phone number of a witness to that melee.
Vanessa Bouchez, a server at Sapporo’s on Newport, was in The AZ Cafe when she went outside and saw 10-15 people throwing punches at each other. Men hitting men, and women hitting women.
In a split second, she looked towards James Gang, the graphic printing place next door to The AZ and noticed two men with bloodied faces running up the street toward the fight, and they stopped and reached into the back of a pick up truck parked out front and pulled two shovels out and started heading toward her acting as if they were going to hit her. They then moved on and started hitting people with the shovels. She wasn’t sure if they were originally involved in the riot, and had run around the building to get away and then decided to come back or what.
Vanessa said the police showed up in approximately 5-10 minutes while the guys with the shovels ran into the alley, but were then caught by the cops and thrown to the ground and cuffed. Most of the people involved in the scuffle scattered when the police showed up.
I was then told by a member of the Citizen’s Patrol that she had talked to an older man who has lived in OB a long time, and claimed that a rape occurred on October 18 in the parking lot of the main lifeguard tower at around midnight. If this is true, it was not confirmed by the police when I called them the next day. Did this happen, but was not reported? It’s possible, since many people are saying they are no longer reporting incidents to the police because they feel they are being given short shrift on these matters.
The brazen groping incident that took place just this past week on the south side of OB, where a man hit a woman from behind in the broad daylight of 9 am, has at least ended in an arrest of said perpetrator. He was scared off by a Cox Cable Truck, and whilst the victim didn’t see his face as he ran off, she was able to describe his ethnicity (white) his height and what he was wearing. He has since been arrested on unrelated offenses. Police are asking any eyewitnesses to please step forward so he can be properly identified and linked to this crime also.
So, it is sometimes very difficult to sort through what is fact and what is fiction in regards to violent crimes being committed here in OB as of late. We have the various citizen’s side of the story, but it’s not always true. Are some individuals trying to grab their 15 minutes of fame, as Andy Warhol expressed everyone is seeking, or are they seriously reporting the truth? Are the police reporting all of the crimes when we ask them? Or are they covering up some of them so we don’t know the full extent of the crimes going on here?
This is what I do know. OB is known for it’s sketchy characters. Some of them are what makes OB … well, OB. Then there are the ones that take it to the next level, causing problems wherever they go. Some locals, ok, many locals think that the homeless are causing these problems. Hard to say. I do know from the meetings I’ve been to, there is a small contingent of Obceans who do not like it when the homeless are blamed for local crime. I’m sure there are many concerns with these individuals, but who knows if we can pin any of these crimes on them. Are the perpetrators locals, or people coming in from other communities, or maybe travelers? Any one of these groups can be the attackers, we just don’t know.
The police need to be more forthcoming with us when they do catch these people, we want to know all the details so we can better protect ourselves. We want to know everything about them if we can. We don’t want people doing their own profiling on individuals. That can border on some kind of prejudice no matter how you look at it. We have to be careful, but we also need to be informed. Many women at that town council meeting asked the police why we weren’t being told exactly where the crimes are occurring. The police countered with the crime maps web sites and said if you don’t report every crime, then it can’t be mapped into the site.
There seems to be quite a bit of mistrust going on between the powers that be and the citizens. Why isn’t the town council or the OBMA involved in the Citizen’s Patrol? Who knows? After reading posts on here, some say they weren’t invited, but they know about it now, I’m assuming. Some local friends I have spoken to really want to stick their head in the sand and pretend like all this crime doesn’t exist. Those are the ones that could sadly become the next victims. Knowledge is power they say.
Part of gaining some more control at the street level is involving social media. Several OB centric pages have popped up on Facebook and are being utilized to make locals aware of what is going on. The more involved on every level, the better.
We live in a drinking culture here in OB. It’s not just a sunny little tourist town. We who live here, love all aspects of OB. But something’s gotta give here. We just don’t want it to give way to rampant crime. We want our streets back and we’re gonna take ’em and make them safe again!