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."
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.