Palin Protesters Under Criminal Investigation

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Monday night on 11 News, we showed you video of police rushing a group of protesters after they had run into the middle of the street as Governor Sarah Palin's motorcade approached. Now officials say the group is under criminal investigation.

As Governor Sarah Palin's motorcade made its way towards Suplizio Field Monday night, chaotic moments, as a group of protesters ran out in front of the cars trying to block the way. Some officers jumped off their motorcycles and others rushed from the sidewalks to push the protesters out of the way.

"That action was swift, it was apporpriate and it probably saved several people from serious injury," said Acting Chief of the Grand Junction Police Department, Troy Smith.

But Mallory Rice, one of those protesters, says that wasn't the case and that police used excessive force.

"I had a police officer grab me by the back of the head, by my hair, and throw me to the sidewalk," said Rice. "It was terrifying."

Smith says the officers' number one priority, in any incident, is public safety.

"Their faces were covered with bandanas, those people had not been through any sort of security screenings, so we had no idea what their intentions were," said Smith.

He also says the officers in the area told the protesters, long before the motorcade arrived, they could exercise their rights as long as they didn't leave the sidewalk.

"They were given those rules and instructions and as the motorcade approached, they decided not to listen to those requests," said Smith.

The protesters complain that once they entered the street they were given no verbal warnings before police tackled them. But when we asked Rice about the officers initial request to stay out of the road she simply responded "Uh..." and looked away.

Officials say no arrests were made last night because they didn't want the situation to get more out of hand. They say they likely won't take any action until the investigation is complete.

Rice says she and the others never intended to hurt anyone with their actions. She says they simply wanted to show Palin that the Grand Valley does not share her ideals or values.

"We feel like civil disobedience, or an act such as we committed yesterday, was an effective way to get our message across," said Rice.

But police say they hope the incident sends another message -- they're happy to let people exercise their first amendment rights, but safety always comes first.

Rice says she and other protesters have filed complaints with the police department over their use of force.

Smith says as is normal procedure any time force is used, the officers conduct is under administrative review.

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  • by Emily Location: GJ on Nov 1, 2008 at 09:46 AM
    If it were not for the cops pushing them out of the way, and doing their job, the motorcade would have ran them over, as that is their protocol. Thank you GJ Police for doing your job and protecting all citizens that are in the Grand Valley. The protesters were wrong and broke the law and rules of their "peaceful" demonstration.
  • by James Location: Grand Junction on Oct 23, 2008 at 03:59 PM
    There is a time and a place for everything in life and this patients have forgotten to teach their kids this leason. This was the time but in the middle of the road was not the place.
  • by y. wolerly Location: clifton on Oct 23, 2008 at 03:21 PM
    I feel the police did what was best. the protesters all should be grateful they were pushed out of the way instead if being run over by the cars. that's what happens at the college, the students just walk out in the street with out looking and then get mad when the get hit.
  • by Lea Ann Location: Delta on Oct 23, 2008 at 11:21 AM
    I was there when Gov. Palin was in GJ and I saw the protestors. From what I saw the police did exactly what was necessary to keep public peace. I support them 100% and hope they cleared of any wrong doing.
  • by cindy Location: grand junction on Oct 23, 2008 at 10:09 AM
    As the parent of one of the protesters I am shocked and appalled by how the police department handled this situation half of these kids are under the age of 18 and sub stained serious injury for what? trying to voice the fact that there is no real choice in this election The police in this and unfortunately a lot of other cities are just a bunch of power hungry thugs and they themselves should be policed by the people
  • by Randy Location: Cal on Oct 23, 2008 at 09:54 AM
    Stop trampleing first amendment right's, Typical Jack Booted Thug cops. The kids have a lot of injuries one happen's to be my Godaughter.....!
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