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Alhambra pastor complains of being wrongly handcuffed at Monterey Park festival, vendors demand apology *updated

Earlier this week the World Journal reported that an Alhambra pastor was handcuffed when a conflict arose between vendors and Monterey Park  officials at the city's Chinese New Year festival. After city officials decided that the celebration would end early due to rain, the pastor of the Sunrise Community Church, Jimmy Tam, said he went to city officials to negotiate for an extension. The exchange ended very differently than he hoped: he was handcuffed by the police. Donna Ramirez, an administrative aide, alleged that he had attacked her.

On Thursday the LA Times followed with some more details on the conflict in a story. "We started praying really hard when it was raining really hard,"  Tam, whose church had a booth at the festival, told Ching-Ching Ni. "Then the rain completely stopped. Around 3:30 we saw blue skies."

That's when he assumed the festival would no longer be canceled, and Tam went to negotiate with Ramirez. "She told me, 'I make all the decisions,' " Tam told Ni. "I kept begging her to please just look at the sky. The sun is coming out. The kids are having fun. She didn't even take a look at the sky."

According to the LA Times she is not pressing charges, and he denies the charge that he attacked her. Vendors are still demanding an apology for the city's early closure, and the manner in which it was done which included police trucks and firetrucks with bullhorns, creating a situation which one vendor described as "martial law" and fear when some did not understand English.

"Maybe we should have talked to more people. But when it comes to public safety, it's not a point of discussion," Monterey Park City Manager Paul Talbot told the Times. "When the police give you a directive, you listen to the police. They are not the Easter Bunny."

*update: 2.11.11

The World Journal reported today that Monterey Park Police Chief Jim Smith visited the Chinese-language paper and responded to pastor Jimmy Tam's accusations of wrongful arrest at the Chinese New Year Festival. According to Smith, the police officer handcuffed Tam to avoid anyone being hurt because his behavior was out of control due to his rage. Tam was soon released after he calmed down 15 minutes later, the World Journal reports. Smith emphasized that "the decision was made completely by the police officer," instead of an instruction from the City administrative aide, Donna Ramirez, whom Tam was talking to prior to the incident.

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6 thoughts on “Alhambra pastor complains of being wrongly handcuffed at Monterey Park festival, vendors demand apology *updated”

  1. If this is not an isolated incident of Police misconduct, it should be easy to collect additional anecdotal evidence of similar abuses. One you have established a pattern you should contact the US Department of Justice; do not trust local police to either investigate or discipline themselves. Good luck.

  2. I would like to hear the side of the police officer that handcuffed Pastor J. Tam. Donna Ramirez alleged that Pastor Tam attacked her. Were there any witnesses? Were there any visible injuries? Did the police officer make any kind of investigation? Police Chief Smith would be more believable if his statement to the public was based on his own investigation on the matter. It is my opinion that it looks like a convenient way of quick closure at the same time protecting city employees, i.e., Donna Ramirez and the police officer. Welcome to Monterey Park! We now know who is King (REY) of the Mountain (Monte). Sorry, it is not the citizens of the city.

    1. Yes there was a witness that saw Mrs. Ramirez get struck on the arm. She did not call the police but an on looker did. The pastor was visibly angry and out of control. The police officer putting him into handcuffs was probably excessive but you never know nowadays. The better question is why some fact checking wasn't done before this article was published. Also it looks as though the pastor is just looking for some press as Mrs. Ramirez never pressed charges, was not the one to call the police, and he was the one out of control.

  3. There are lots of dirty business going on in Monterey Park City Hall..This is a terrible place to live or visit. Simply just stay way from this place as many officials just look the other way.

  4. Or next time, just refuse to hold it in Monterey Park. Alhambra or San Gabriel would handle this much more efficiently and without rudeness I believe.

  5. I didn’t realize this caused quite a stir in the Chinese community too until today. I’m wondering if some of the smaller vendors will opt out of future celebrations because of this incident…but it seems since I know some of the principals, this isn’t over yet!