Atascadero woman attacks Obama protesters

July 9, 2014
Rosemary Bem

Rosemarie Bem


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.


Is is very sad ( and very illuminating ) to see the leftists on here excuse this woman’s actions. Those peaceful protestors didn’t deserve to be assaulted PERIOD. There is NO JUSTIFICATION for her actions.

BTW I didn’t see this story mentioned on the Telegram Tribune site. I wonder why?


Because they’re not really leftists or liberals any more than most Republicans are conservative. Republicans and Democrats pursue the same policy the question is merely which corporations get the contracts, which lackeys get the government jobs, and which specific projects they’re going to waste money on.




To reiterate …What Ms. Bem did was wrong and intemperate.

Given the same situation, I might have felt inclined to have urinated on the shoes of the ‘protestors’, but probably would have started quoting scripture or singing an old spiritual or Woody Guthrie anthem.

That always gets ’em.


I believe that intentionally urinating on someone else constitutes “assault'” — in fact just throwing water at them does too. Plus done in public, it could easily be classified as “indecent exposure” too and you would join the rapidly growing ranks on the state “sex offender” list. It is time to reintroduce the concept of nuance into some of our laws.

However, I am sure that you have the ability to suppress your “inclinations” and will take that statement as a bit of hyperbole. The alternatives you suggest would be much more acceptable and entertaining as well. Personally, I can’t see getting that excited over a small group of people protesting for a cause that will never get enough popular support (pending far more serious revelations) to happen.


OTOH, you seem to be a bit more perceptive than others here.

Perhaps I might counter some of these inane ‘protesters’ …people that I consider to be separatists, with a sign of my own that simply says:



Maybe this woman will get community service doing work for the Republican Party. That would be justice!


Here is a little diddy on the internet regarding penalties for using pepper spray in California:

“What is the pepper spray law in California? Misuse of tear gas in California comes with state penalties of up to a $1000 fine and/or up to three years in prison, not to mention a possible felony conviction on record. Examples of misuse include using tear gas on people in anger..”



Don’t get why she was cited and and released and not arrested. Assault is assault, people were injured. Are police now allowed to pick and choose who goes to jail as well as which laws they want to follow?


Because she is an upstanding member of our community.


Come on now, it’s Atascadero, where unlicensed handguns are just quietly returned to the owner regardless of legal issues and drunken officer playing pinball with his car down a city street is just a minor issue. Why should assault be a big problem, as long as the ones assaulted on not on the side of the police department.


That is one possibility. Another is that they don’t want to have to deal with her in the lockup and made a judgment that she didn’t present a further threat at this time. I don’t agree but it is another possibility.


This is part of a semi-national campaign by extremist right-wing hate groups advocating violence and fomenting trouble.

Another recent event:

Be sure and read the comments after the article.

Some here can pretend that there is no connection…that they are independently using the same tactics as organized hate groups just by coincidence, and hide behind their cries of ‘free speech’.

You can keep on pretending, But We Gotcha !


I for one find the effigy talked about in article deplorable but until a group like the one hanging the banner crosses a line that turns to hate speech, do they not have the right to disagree with our current president without being accused of being racist? I for one don’t care for the man but it has nothing to do with his race. I have a list of a least six political candidates that are black that I would have no problem seeing them in the White House. It is the ideology that I find a lot of people disagreeing with.

It is yourself and others like your Johnny Cochran speaking sound bite types, that try to spin this into…………..if you don’t like Obama you are a racist. Is there some out there that it is about race. Of course but a lot of people I know, simply dislike the man, not because the color of his skin but his politics.

I find that there is an element in this country trying by using the race card to shut down any kind of disagreement or other opinion unless it is in lockstep with this administration. I find that to be disturbing.


I voted for this president in 2008, absolutely did not vote for him in 2012 and it has nothing to do with his color. The man is half white and half black and 100% socialist. End of the story!


100% socialist? What are you smoking?


I agree Bob, not 100%, I’d put him between 50-60%.


Actually I consider him more of a fascist. The only part of fascism he isn’t 100% on board with is the nationalism part — it is obvious that he hates America.


How is it “obvious” he “hates America”?

The same claim could be made against any president, including both Bush administrations and the Reagan administration.


I must have missed Bush and Reagan’s apologies to foreign nations… I don’t even recall Clinton doing that. Hrmm…

How is it NOT obvious that he does not like this country? I guess, since he was first elected and for the first time in his life, he’s proud of the country… or whatever Michelle said.


I consider him more of a bait-and -switch hucksters.


Thank you Bird, my point exactly. Can Slowfaster find race involved with people that don’t like him? Sure but I bet there are just as many, if not more that it isn’t about race, it is about lack of experience and incompetence but they don’t want to have to address those unpleasantries so we…………divert, divert, divert.

Ben Daho

How many that bitch about his experience are sussecful at anything? I’m embarrassed to read these Fox News talking points. Fascist. Probably a fake Christian claiming they love Jesus and then act exactly opposite of what Jesus taught.


Well Ben if it was about the person bitchings experience, it doesn’t matter, they aren’t the President of the U.S. He is and SHOULD be held to a higher standard. HELLO HE’S THE PRESIDENT!!!!

So here is another example of suppression on your part. We aren’t allowed to have a opposite opinion of the man unless we are somehow successful? All you guys defending this crack me up with your responses. They more then prove how partisan blind you are. Go ahead and deny but your words betray you.


The term “hate speech” is a very nebulous and subjective concept. As such, any person or group can claim another’s rights to free speech should be curtailed, just based on their own subjective opinion. That does not mean that, constitutionally, that means anything to the rest of us.


OK…lets dissect your argument. First of all, displaying a banner calling for the impeachment of the President is not at all the same as displaying an effigy lynching of a black man who happens to be the President of the United States. THAT IS A HATE CRIME.

Secondly, Ms. Bem said, “she sprayed the protesters to protect the President from an unwarranted attack”. Please explain how the protest was in any way, ANY kind of “attack.”

And finally, isn’t the right to free speech, and peaceful protest protected and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Any way you choose to spin it, Ms. Bem committed a crime. A crime against her fellow citizens who were LEGALLY exercising their right to protest peacefully.


Really? It is a “hate crime”?

I bet if it went before the SCOTUS the majority would rule otherwise.

Those who hold the power make the rules.


So the left is just this warm and fuzzy loving group of people. I pulled into a gas station down town SLO. Minding my own business when this guy at the next pump start raving about the gas prices. He states this is all your fault, what!! well I know you voted for Bush, erhhh I actually did not vote for Bush, but I wasn’t going to tell this crazy deranged person, who knows he may have had pepper spray. You could see the hate and anger this man was possessed with. He continued to rant on about the rich. I never said a word, I did not want to enrage him any more than he already was. He verbally attacked me because he thought I was I guess a conservative…

I actually admire these protesters. I definitely would not be brave enough to put myself out there as a target for anyone who happened to disagreed with my opinion.

I have been across this country to events, and have to say I have never witnessed any violence. It’s ironic that this hateful thing happened in the “happiest place” in the country.


1. Straw man argument. No one has indicated the “left” is a “warm and loving group of people.” You concocted a claim that was never made, then–worse–proceeded to prove others wrong for an opinion they did not make.

2. Shall we all do as you did when you gave, as an example of why your claim that the left is a warm and loving group of people, an obviously (by your description) troubled and angry man as your evidence to support your fallacious argument?

This would be the same as a liberal claiming all right-wingers are murderers just because Ted Bundy was a serial killer, an obviously false statement.


The partisan nature of this tirade is evidenced by those who took the time to find out the woman’s former rank (not mentioned in the article) and the wild rantings.

The endless killings of children in our schools has not brought out anything like this discussion, seems like all our regular tea party posters care about is a little pepper spray. It shatters their credibility.


Mr. Hotdog, how quickly we forget OUR OWN rantings………


and here is a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black!


You are right about the fact that there are numerous things going on in this country that need to be discussed. But you are all over the place in your discussions. Here is something here to be discussed but because somehow it doesn’t fit your bent, you want to move on to a different discussion. How can anyone begin to talk about anything if you want to run from one subject onto the other to fit your needs??


Sorry, hotdog, no one and I repeat no one in the US is allowed to physically attack someone else for peacefully holding up a sign, and everyone is allowed to use the internet for information.

This is the second attack in our county whereby someone sprayed someone else in the face for no reason (not self-defense). The first being the child sprayed in Grover Beach with weed killer.

This is similar to the UCSB woman professor who stole a sign from a pro life advocate in a free speech area and then physically scratched up the 16 year old girl when she tried to get it back. In that case, the whole incident was videoed and the professor was charged with theft, battery, and vandalism. The media reported that the professor’s specialty in teaching was pornography and women in the porn industry.

Let me ask, do you think it’s okay for someone who is in a higher social status (this retired military officer or the UCSB professor) to commit crimes, and not be punished because they have money and status, or do you just think that people you agree with politically should be excused, and no one should criticize them.

Your credibility is zero.


Something is really wrong here. I am not just talking about Ms. Bem (although she qualifies) but about the responses by so many of you to this article.

Probably close to 30 years ago I stopped listening to Rush Limbaugh — roughly two months after I started. The biggest reason was not his political point of view since even when I disagree, I think it is important to understand the opposition’s viewpoint. I stopped listening because he persistently took the most extreme cases of idiocy by those he opposed and then subtly implied that all people who shared some common viewpoint with the idiots were the same. For example, names like “environmental whackos” and “femi-nazis” were used to categorize everyone who had any sympathy towards environmentalism or feminism.

Now I see many of you doing the same thing to those whose viewpoints you oppose. Most of the comments here doing this are directed at “liberals” although the responses from a couple of liberals have engaged in the same disingenuous labeling. It is as wrong for someone with conservative views to do that kind of generalization as it is for liberals to regard everyone who supports the Tea Party as a right-wing nutcase. The same can be said for other issues such as gun control, immigration and abortion.

We will not likely ever reach real consensus on all issues but this type of rhetoric makes it much more difficult to even find tolerable compromises on a few. All of you who engage in it should take some time to ponder the consequences of that approach. Is this forum going to simply degenerate into a bunch of outburst from angry, close-minded, bull-headed partisan sheep (See, I can do it too!) with contributions from the trolls who love to inflame that anger? If so, I will move on to find some more constructive way to inform myself and debate issues. (Yeah, I know, some of you will be happy to say “goodbye.” )


Really, your comments about a “few” liberal commentators are bogus. Maybe you should watch MSNBC, CNN and other liberal commentators: Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz (the Liberal Rush), Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, etc, just to mention a few who daily spew hate against Republicans, their policies and ideology or anyone who disagrees with the Democrat Party.

Finally today, 38 journalist have spoken up and are now addressing the White House claiming lack of transparency and openness and for banning black journalist who disagree with them.

Yup, this is all the Republican’s fault…


Ed Schultz is not the liberal Rush.

Despite his liberal conversion, his instincts are still often conservative.

Example: After Democrat politicians disagreed on an important issue, to describe the disagreement, Schultz parroted a term often used by conservatives: “circular firing squad.”

Liberals are, as a group, open to others’ opinions. Our strength is in our ability to argue policy, because it is in diversity of opinion that we are assured the best opinion is reached.

For Schultz to be surprised and upset about Democrats disagreeing on a policy issue is just one example of the difficulty in changing political parties. There is no such thing as an “instant Democrat” or “instant Republican” because the political beliefs of each reflect such insidious and deeply held beliefs it is impossible to make such a profound shift in a short period of time.


My reference to a “few” liberal commentators were solely about the previous comments in THIS thread. I have pretty much given up on TV commentators on both sides and most radio personalities as well. I don’t think either format allows the type of uninterrupted discourse necessary to fairly debate a point — and that is not even taking into account that most broadcast commentaries come with a bias so strong that they rarely allow intelligent opponents a chance to rebut their points. (They make exceptions for obvious morons and for paid “strawmen” like Alan Colmes.)

Incidentally, I fully believe that the Obama administration is as far from the “transparent’ and “open” one promised as any since Nixon’s. There are many on the left that would agree with you on that point (although maybe not on all the specifics.) You should try to listen objectively to what they have to say sometimes rather than viewing them through a lens with the words “liberal lunatic” printed on them. No, they won;’t agree with everything you believe but you might find some common ground on a few issues. You might also find that many are basically decent human beings capable or listening to your views if you don’t shut them out with simplistic labels.

Finally, the mainstream Democrats and their supporters are no more representative of all the progressives/liberals/lefties than the Republican establishment is representative of all the concerns of the TeaParty and other ideological conservatives. If you only get your impression of liberalism from major TV networks, the NY Times or politicians like Obama, Clinton, Feinstein or Pelosi, you are missing a lot of discontent within the Democrat Party. You will have to search a little harder (not much) to find the words of those who are not happy with the way the Democrats are going.


Thank you “Ontheotherhand”… You have Nailed the problem.. Very explicitly and eloquently.. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees the problem.. Now if only others here would see and learn…

Old Salt

Mary Malone,

Should we judge all Democrats based on the actions of Left Wing Murders which include:

Ku Klux Klan member Edgar Ray Killen , Charles Manson and Charles “TEX” Watson, Lee Harvey Oswald, David Chapman, Sirhan Sirhan, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme etc…etc…


What evidence do you have of the political orientation of any of those people?

Ted Bundy was quite active in the Republican Party. He worked on the reelection campaign of Washington’s governor Dan Evans. Evans won the election and quickly appointed Bundy to (oh, the irony!) the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Committee.

Bundy went on to be named assistant to Ross Evans, president of the Washington State Republican Party.

Still, I don’t believe all Republicans should be considered serial killers just because one Republican was…which was the point of my post.


I pulled into Atascadero, was feelin’ about half past dead;

I just need some place where I can lay my head.

“Hey, mister, can you tell me where a woman might find a bed

He just grinned and shook my hand, “No!”, was all he said.

Take a load off Rosie, take a load for free;

Take a load off Rosie, And (and) (and) you put the load right on me.

She picked up her pepper spray, she went lookin’ for a place to hide;

When she saw the protesters walk’in’ side by side.

She said, “Hey, Obama haters, let’s go downtown.”

She said, “I gotta go, but m’friend can’t stick around.


Not a bad re-working of “The Weight”, but I think “For What It’s Worth” would apply better.


“There’s something happening here.

What it is, ain’t exactly clear,

There’s a man with a sign over there,

Lookin’ kinda like Smokey the Bear

( ooh…ooh… )

Old people carryin’ signs,

Mostly say:

“Grow a Brain Morans”

“Keep Guvmint Out of my Medicare !”

or something else even more asinine…

I think it’s time we Stop, Hey… What’s that sound ?

Everybody look what’s goin’ down…