Dem. candidate arrested for voter registration at Occupy San Diego

  • Published on November 29th, 2011

This has gotten seriously crazy.

Former Democratic Congressional candidate Ray Lutz brought a table down to Freedom Plaza/Civic Center Plaza, home of Occupy San Diego, to do voter registration.

ray lutz arrested at occupy san diego for voter registrationHe even printed out a Supreme Court ruling, just in case he had to show something to the police to prove he had the right to be there.

But that didn’t stop the San Diego Police Department. They looked over his print-out, called the bosses… and then arrested him. For trespassing. In a public square.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports:

San Diego Police Lt. Andra Brown said Lutz was placed under citizen’s arrest by a security guard employed by the building owner at 1200 Third Avenue on the edge of Civic Center Plaza.

Brown said Lutz refused both the guard’s and the police officers’ request to leave and to remove a table, chair and box from private property in front of the building. Officers then “effected” the security guard’s arrest, Brown said.

Canvas for a Cause, a group that has been providing legal support for Occupy San Diego, noted that they had already established case law that they have a right to register voters, even on private property such as shopping malls.

“Canvass for a Cause used Robins v. Pruneyard to win its preliminary injunction against Target, Corp–the case law is clear, Ray Lutz had a right to register voters at the Civic Center, but this is not the first time the SDPD have decided to ignore the law,” said attorney Rachel Scoma,  Programs Director of Canvass for a Cause.

The SDPD has been using San Diego municipal code 54.0110 to effectively harrass which states:

Unauthorized Enchroachments Prohibited
It is unlawful for any person to erect, place, allow to remain, construct, establish, plant, or maintain any vegetation or object on any public street, alley, sidewalk, highway, or other public property or public right-of-way, except as otherwise provided by this Code.

As diarist BeckEpants notes at DailyKos,

SDPD has been selectively enforcing this code against Occupy San Diego and have been notifying anyone associated with the occupation that if they set any item on the ground (including a backpack, purse, briefcase, box of bagels, etc) they will be subject to arrest.

The lawsuit pending against SDPD and the city argues that selectively enforcement of an overly broad code designed to discourage peaceful protest is unconstitutional.

The Ocean Beach Rag, a local paper, has more:

Lutz is a former President of the East County Democratic Club and former candidate for Congress and California State Assembly. He has been a visible organizer of the Occupy San Diego movement, having organized at least one event where a hundred protesters attended a City Council meeting.  He certainly is known by the sergeant and police captain who participated in his arrest.

Ironically, earlier this month at an “new immigrant” ceremony at the Community Concourse, there were two booths set up to register new voters. Each had a large tarp and table and set unmolested by the SDPD for hours.

That certainly sounds like selective enforcement… which is a First Amendment no-no.

Here’s video of the arrest:

And here’s a follow-up, interviewing eyewitnesses on the scene.

What can you do?

  • Mayor Sanders office: (619) 236-6330
  • SDPD: (619) 531-2000
  • San Diego Police Chief Lansdowne: (619) 531-2777
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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.


  • Ray Lutz was arrested for setting up a table in Civic Center, not for voter registration.

    Voter registration is allowed at Civic Center by anyone at any time. It has nothing to do with Occupy San Diego. Voter registration is electoral politics as usual, not the direct democracy of the Occupy movement.

    If all the Democrats start registering voters in Civic Center, so will the Ron Paul people, the Tea Partiers, the Republicans, the Greens, and every other political party. Electoral politics is divisive, the exact opposite of the nonpolitical Occupy movement, which is unifying.

    Ray will will his case and tables for traditional electoral politics will be allowed in Civic Center, but not medical, food, or library tables for Occupiers who are trying to bring about change by doing something new and outside politics as usual.

    The way you can tell that somebody is a political party operative is that they lie a lot. Ray was NOT arrested for voter registration.

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