Atascadero woman attacks Obama protesters
July 9, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Claiming she was defending President Barack Obama from an unwarranted attack, an Atascadero woman pepper sprayed a group of peaceful protestors on Monday afternoon. Atascadero police then charged the woman with two counts of battery.
During the late afternoon, a group of five protesters were holding a demonstration at the Highway 101 overpass on Curbaril Avenue. The demonstrators were holding a sign calling for the impeachment of Obama.
At about 5 p.m., Rosemarie Bem, 67, pulled up beside the protesters in her car, doused demonstrators with pepper spray and then fled the scene, witnesses said. Even though police charged Bem with battery, she defends her actions.
“I’m a veteran, and I was protecting the president from what I perceived as an unwarranted attack,” Bem said when contacted by CalCoastNews. She did not offer any further explanation.
Atascadero Police Sergeant Jason Carr said the demonstrators did nothing to provoke the attack.
“The police report indicates that it was a peaceful protest,” Carr said. “They were merely holding signs on the freeway overpass. There were no words that were exchanged.”
Bem’s pepper spray hit two of the demonstrators, causing them burning and redness, police said. At the scene, paramedics washed chemicals off the victims’ skin.
Fred Starbuck, who was sprayed in the face and eyes, said the pepper spray also hit a third member of the group.
“She got me dead center,” Starbuck said. “I find it sad that someone would feel it’s okay to attack individuals because they disagree with your point of view.”
Shortly after the incident, officers located Bem. She then admitted to pepper spraying the protesters, Carr said.
Officers cited Bem for battery and battery with a chemical agent, and then released her.