Arrest near ‘Back the Blue’ rally in Redwood City draws controversy

in Community/Crime

The forcible arrest of a woman near a “Back the Blue” rally in Redwood City on Friday for allegedly impeding traffic by walking in the street and resisting arrest has sparked controversy in the community over whether the detainment and subsequent search of her belongings were justified. 

Jesilyn Faust, 30, was arrested on charges of obstructing, delaying or resisting a peace officer in connection with the encounter that was partially captured via cellphone video (see footage at bottom of this post). A subsequent search of Faust’s backpack uncovered a handheld metal chipping hammer and two cans of spray paint, police said. 

The incident unfolded about a block from where about 50 people were holding a rally to denounce the “defund police” movement, a national call for police reform that ignited following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The movement has local implications, with Redwood City currently in the midst of a heated community dialogue over calls for significant police reform. 

Redwood City police said they sent officers to monitor Friday’s pro-police rally after learning from social media posts and other Bay Area law enforcement agencies that individuals had planned to attend to cause disruption. 

Faust was detained about a block from the rally, which ultimately remained peaceful. 

According to police, she was walking on the street impeding traffic when an officer approached her about the traffic violation. At the time, Faust “was not carrying a sign or actively engaged in constitutionally protected activity” as she approached the rally, police said. 

In a scene caught on video, Faust and a group of other individuals confronted police about the stop. At one point, the video shows an officer forcing Faust to the ground to handcuff her. 

In a statement, police said the officer became forceful with Faust because she began to walk away from officers when she was not free to leave and was uncooperative. Police added that a group of individuals who argued with officers over Faust’s arrest, as shown in the video, “remained free to move about the area” and were not inhibited from participating in the rally or counter protest. 

The arrest, video and police statement have drawn mixed reactions in the community, with hundreds of comments posted in response in the Facebook group Redwood City Says What. 

“Everyone was jaywalking, that’s not a reason to get arrested,” Karina Prieto Macias posted in the group. 

Added Christine Rennee-Love Rutledge, “THIS is why we want them defunded. They just do not know how to behave properly, imo.” 

Others expressed support for police, with Sabine Hohmann Sahyoun stating, “Thank you, RCPD, for stopping these obvious agitators!!!” 

Police said they are continuing to investigate the incident, adding that “any additional updates will be provided at the appropriate time.” 

The conversation about the matter, however, is likely to resume. On Monday, Oct. 5, the City Council of Redwood City is set to hold a study session to continue the community dialogue on police reform. 

Detective Junsun Lee

Posted by Cortez De Redwood ENe on Saturday, September 26, 2020