Santa Barbara, Calif. – On Thursday, February 25, 2021, Sheriff’s deputies arrested eight adults and cited one other during a protest by community activists against a contractor. Deputies became aware of the protest around 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, when contractors called to report a potential for conflict with the protesters at a construction site on the north end of Via Gaitero. Deputies monitored the area overnight and made contact with the protesters several times.
This morning, as construction equipment arrived, several people prevented the contractors from accessing private property at the north end of Via Gaitero. In the course of that effort, they willfully obstructed the free movement of the contractors, who were in possession of a valid permit to access and work on the property. Deputies spoke with the protesters and requested that they move to an adjacent location and allow the contractors to access the property. Deputies repeatedly informed the protesters that blocking access was illegal and could result in arrest. Some of the protesters complied with the deputies’ request, while another group refused. This resulted in six women and two men being arrested. No force other than handcuffing was used to effect the arrests, and no protesters or deputies were injured during the incident. The arrestees were transported to the Main Jail at 7:19 a.m., where they were booked for a misdemeanor violation of 647c PC- willfully obstructing the free movement of any person. After the booking process, each arrestee was issued a citation and released from jail upon their promise to appear in court. Deputies also issued a citation for 647c PC to a man who had apparently locked himself to a gate post at the entrance to the property. He utilized a V arm tube, a device that makes it difficult for protesters to be removed safely from an object to which they have affixed themselves.
The Sheriff’s Office remained on scene until shortly after noon, when the contractor and protesters arrived at an agreement and law enforcement was no longer needed to access the property. All of the persons who were arrested have been released from custody as of this press release.