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Group of alleged petition 'blockers' arrested

Posted: May 1, 2014 5:25 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2014 5:25 p.m.

Local sheriff’s deputies have arrested three more alleged petition “blockers” as the deadline approaches for petitioners seeking to overturn a city ordinance allowing electronic billboards, sheriff’s documents show.

On Tuesday, a store manager at the Walmart store on Kelly Johnson Parkway filed citizen’s arrests against three men from out of town for trespassing, two of whom told Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies they were paid to block signature gathering. The did not disclose who paid them.

The arrests bring to seven the number of people charged with misdemeanor offenses for incidents that occurred during signature-gathering at local stores in just over a week, according to information maintained by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Inmate Information Center.

They were made after a customer complained to a store manager that she was harassed by men obstructing her entrance to the store, according the report filed by the deputy responding to the complaint.

“The manager stated that for the last several days there have been several peaceful petitioners standing outside the exit of the store collecting signatures from willing customers,” the deputy wrote. “There has been several large groups of people that have been coming to Wal-mart preventing willing customers from signing the petitions.

“He stated that the large groups - also referred to as ‘blockers’ - of people were standing by the doorway blocking the customers from entering the store,” he wrote. “The manager stated he witnessed the suspects being aggressive to customers and videotaping them even when asked not to be recorded and to be left alone.  

“He stated he verbally told all the suspects that they need to leave or else he would have them arrested for trespassing,” he wrote.

One of the “blockers” refused to leave and reportedly told the store manager: “I have the right to be here. I’m not going anywhere.”

The suspects were “blocking customers from entering the store and while actively videotaping them,” according to the deputy. They refused to leave the store grounds and continued to harass customers.

The manager signed a statement of private person’s (citizen’s) arrest and the men were arrested.

Upon their arrest, two of the alleged blockers told the deputy they were each “paid to be a Wal-mart to record people and to prevent customers from giving the petitioners signatures.”

Allegations of petition blockers are being investigated now by the Office of the Inspector General for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, officials told The Signal earlier this week.

The ordinance, approved by the Santa Clarita City Council in March, paved the way for a Metro proposal that would take down 62 billboard structures inside city limits along the Metro right-of-way in exchange for giving Metro the right to construct three, double-sided digital billboards on city-owned property off Highway 14 and Interstate 5.

Those in favor of a public vote on electronic billboards have until May 5 to collect more than 11,000 valid signatures on their petition to affect change and possibly reverse the city’s decision, organizer Patti Sulpizio said earlier this week.

The latest arrests were made after a Saugus woman with two children complained to the manager about harassment.

“She stated when she parked her vehicle in the parking lot she saw a large group of people standing near the Wal-mart entrance,” the deputy wrote. “She stated that when she and her children walked towards the entrance of the store her path was blocked by several people and a woman who placed a clipboard in her face telling her ‘sign this.’

“The witness stated she refused to give her a signature and told the woman to get out of her way,” he wrote. “She stated the (blocker) obstructed her path while actively videotaping her and her children. She told the suspect he did not have permission to record her or her children.

“The suspect ignored her and continued recording her and her children,” the deputy wrote. “The woman then rushed into the Wal-mart and notified the managers inside. She stated she felt the groups (blockers) of people were extremely aggressive and she felt harassed.”

Arrested for trespassing are: Abdullah Kariym Yaqiyn, 42, of Moreno Valley; Leonard Ernest Rutherford, 67, of Olympia, Wash. and Ryan John Dennis, 44, Snohomish, Wash.

By their descriptions, the three alleged ‘blockers’ are not small in stature, described as: a 6-foot-5 man weighing 246 pounds; a 200-pound man at 5-foot-9 and a third man weighing 200 pounds and is 5-foot-11 tall.


On Twitter @jamesarthurholt


Birdie: Posted: May 2, 2014 9:12 p.m.

Our City Council refuses to address what is happening to our residents. These blockers have been paid to stop the democratic process. They have been paid to interfere with the referendum process and are breaking the law. City Council is in bed with the people paying these aggressive blockers…they signed a 50 year contract with them. Shameful.

Vtown123: Posted: May 2, 2014 11:04 p.m.

Just a side note, if you are in public, there is no expectation of privacy, and you can be filmed legally. You have the right to tell someone to stop recording you, but they don't have to listen.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: May 2, 2014 12:18 a.m.

And what do we hear from the city council????..... crickets.....

Effing criminals. They don't even hide it anymore.

missyJk: Posted: May 2, 2014 12:43 a.m.

seems to me if they are video taping someone, that someone should take out their I phone and videotape them right back...can you imagine a group of I phone users videotaping the blockers and playing it at the city council meetings to show the thugs that work for the company, a few of the city councils sold our city out to...they will get their 11,000 signatures and it will go to vote. The city council better print up their propaganda on their own dime when it comes time for us all to vote...watching that city council meeting on TV and when TimBen was asking questions the amount of money that was going to be made on this deal and the dribblings the city was going to get for allowing them to MAR up our landscape with electronic billboards..The billboard deal is expected to be yield more than $100 million in revenue over the next 50 years, which is part of the terms of the lease agreed to by Santa Clarita officials, Metro and Allvision. now you see why a certain business has concerns over whether the deal will go thru

lars1: Posted: May 2, 2014 6:23 a.m.

50 cents for a 10 second ad.
$3 a minute or $180 an hour.
$4320 a day, or $1.5 Million per year for a single electronic billboard.
6 billboards is $10 Million a year.
over 50 years that's almost $500 million, not including inflation.

big business and developers have BOUGHT OFF our city council.
our political process is under attack from all the greedy people.

Nitesho: Posted: May 2, 2014 6:50 a.m.

good thing the low and no information voters reelected the two morons again. --edited.

Unreal: Posted: May 2, 2014 8:22 a.m.

Look at who the city council is in bed with. When you lie down with dogs......Someone need a flea bath!

slick50: Posted: May 2, 2014 8:43 a.m.

vtown....being in public does not apply to this scenario. walmart sits on private property. hence the blockers were arrested for trespassing. if the blockers were sitting on the side walk and not by the entrance. that would be another story for video taping.

This message has been removed due to a violation.

Lotus8: Posted: May 2, 2014 9:15 a.m.

Two guys from Washington and another from out in Moreno Valley? What the heck is going on here? Scaring ladies with small kids? If you are on the city council and you backed this agreement regarding the billboards, you should be voted out. Don't even bother running. You sold us all out for a ham sandwich, giving away the farm for pennies and agreeing to these billboards that will slow down traffic for everyone commuting in and out of the valley each day (which is a good percentage of the folks who live up here).

Please folks. If you haven't already done so, go out and sign a petition so that we all can have a say on the matter. These jokers on the city council standing behind the electronic billboard deal also shouldn't receive a single vote from anyone with half a brain during the next election cycle. --edited.

ginnyp: Posted: May 2, 2014 10:07 a.m.

If I ran into the blockers, whether I was for or against the billboard decision of the council, strictly based on the principle that we the people are allowed to have our say in matters, I would sign the petition. We can only hope that more people who find these militant actions disgusting would do the same thing. This is the new politics of the country and if it isn't stopped now, we will eventually loose our ability to have a say on the direction our local, state and federal governments go.

Vtown123: Posted: May 2, 2014 10:21 a.m.

slick50, my point is just that you can film people in a public area, and a parking lot, even though it's private property, is a public area (anyone can go in the parking lot), therefore there is no expectation of privacy.

Of course the store manager did the right thing since the blockers were blocking customers from going in the store.

Unreal: Posted: May 2, 2014 11:12 a.m.

I bet they were told not to worry about being arrested that they would take care of their legal issues.

bobforte: Posted: May 2, 2014 12:08 p.m. Vtown is right.

BigThan7777: Posted: May 2, 2014 1:22 p.m.

Funny, how acting like thugs (blocking entrances) has become so common in the last few years. Makes me think of the approach of our community organizer from Illinois. It's time to get tough with idiots that abuse the law.

SCVdaPlaceToBe: Posted: May 2, 2014 3:50 p.m.

BigThan7777 just how does this make you think of the approach of "our community organizer from Illinois"?

If everyone feels that big business bought off City Council, then why are they elected again? Since A very small percentage even pay attention to voting for City Council, throw up those electronic billboards everywhere and maybe they'll wake up more voters. Bottom get the government that you deserve. Don't vote, don't groan.

stray: Posted: May 2, 2014 6:09 p.m.

@SCV - "Just how does this make you think of the approach of "our community organizer from Illinois"?"

I know you addressed your question to BigThan7777, but I might be able to answer that - that is; if I understand the point, which I think I do.

The point is referencing back in time when the blockers from the New Black Panthers BLOCKED white voters while harassing them at the voting polls. The point of the community organizer from Illinois is the FACT that HE DID NOTHING to stop these blockers and neither did Eric Holder. See the resemblance here with the current ebillboards ??? Who, on the council, is objecting to harassing the voters here in SCV ??? NOBODY !!! In fact, the council has NOT SAID ONE WORD PUBLICLY to cease the harassment; but on the contrary, they're hiring blockers to harass us !

chefgirl358: Posted: May 2, 2014 6:40 p.m.

I signed it today at the Vons located at Newhall Ranch and Bouquet! Luckily, no blockers, but even if there was I wouldn't put up with their s**t!

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