News Briefs

April 5-11, 2006

Not So Peaceful

Two people were arrested and pepper spray used to disperse a crowd in Napa on Saturday, April 1, after a demonstration against immigration proposals devolved into young men throwing rocks at officers. Starting about 2:30pm, 300 people spent more than two hours marching peacefully on downtown sidewalks, says Napa Patrol Bureau commander Steve Potter. By 6pm, it had dwindled to an aggressive group of about 100 young men walking in the road. “People piled onto and into trucks and cars. They were standing in the beds of trucks and sitting on the roofs of cars,” Potter says. They refused to march in one lane and leave the other open for traffic. Eventually they stopped, blocking all traffic on Jefferson Street. Officers moved the protesters onto the sidewalk, then arrested a 15-year-old male on misdemeanor charges for attempting to obstruct the roadway again. “When he was taken into custody, the crowd started throwing rocks and bottles,” Potter says. Another 15-year-old was arrested on a felony charge for throwing rocks. Officers used pepper spray in both paint-ball-like and rubber grommet form, and called for assistance from other local law-enforcement agencies. It took 25 officers about 20 minutes to disperse the crowd. Napa has had five demonstrations in two weeks. “Most of the protests have been very well done, very cooperative and very positive,” Potter says. The U.S. Senate and Congress are debating a variety of proposals, from a “guest worker” program providing a path to citizenship, to a congressional bill making it a felony to be in this country illegally. That was recently amended to a misdemeanor, but the bill still calls for building a fence along the border. Peaceful protests have been held nationwide.

Muddy Moves

The soggy earth is slip-sliding away. On March 29, about 30 yards of soil, debris, a tree and part of a deck dropped 40 feet vertically and 40 feet horizontally on a Sausalito hillside off Bridgeway Street. No one was hurt, but nearby apartment residents have been evacuated for the couple of weeks it will take to remove the debris. In the Fort Ross area, mud and trees blocked Highway 1 for several hours on April 1. Ground slipping out from underneath a retaining wall closed Muir Woods Road on April 2; an engineer is determining if the wall is still structurally sound. At 2am on April 3, a rain-downed tree blocked Highway 128 west of Cloverdale for about three hours, and around 5:20am that same day, a rock slide shut Highway 128 at Chalk Hill Road near Healdsburg. Drive carefully out there.

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