Dust-up over man removing ribbons in San Luis Obispo and officer

June 4, 2021

Alex Catlett in a Mustang News report


A San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s investigator last month spotted a Cal Poly student removing blue ribbons honoring slain police detective Luca Benedetti while driving Benedetti’s widow, leading to a heated confrontation.

The investigator ended up detaining the student and waiting for the arrival of San Luis Obispo police officers, who ultimately let the man go. The student, English senior Alex Catlett, told the Tribune the DA’s investigator angrily confronted him, pushed him and scratched his face while ripping off his mask.

Detective Luca Benedetti

On May 17, a DA’s investigator was driving Benedetti’s widow in his car in San Luis Obispo when he saw a man with scissors cutting down the blue ribbons that lined the street near Osos and Mill streets. The man was carrying a 13-gallon trash bag full of blue ribbons similar to the ones the investigator observed him removing. Benedetti’s widow could also see what was happening, District Attorney Dan Dow said in a statement.

The investigator, who was in civilian clothing, confronted the man, informing him what he was doing was illegal and wrong. The man tossed the bag of cut ribbons at the investigator and walked away, Dow said in the statement.

In attempt to identify the man, the investigator reached for the man’s face covering and pulled it off. While doing so, the investigator scratched the man’s face, according to the DA’s office.

The DA’s investigator briefly spoke with another witness, who was also upset over the removal of the ribbons. The investigator called the SLO Police Department and reported what he saw.

Several minutes later, the investigator saw the man continuing to remove ribbons from parking meters in the downtown corridor. At that point, the investigator identified himself as an officer and detained the man.

Police officers arrived at the scene and spoke with the man, who was cooperative and apologetic. The man said he did not understand the significant impact removing the ribbons would have.

No one requested charges, and officers allowed the man to leave. However, unauthorized removal or destruction of public property may constitute theft or vandalism, Dow said in the statement.

Despite the incident involving a personnel matter, which could enable the DA’s office to refrain from disclosing it, the investigator agreed to allow the information be released to the public. The DA’s office is conducting an internal review of the incident.

On the other side, the suspected vandal accuses the investigator and police of bad behavior.

Alex Catlett told the Tribune the investigator attacked him. The Cal Poly student did not know what he was doing was illegal, and he was bothered by the “Blue Lives Matter” message of the ribbons, he said. [Tribune]

There were like a billion blue ribbons, and the Blue Lives Matter flags are blatant racism, Catlett said.

Upon noticing Catlett, the investigator slammed on his breaks while driving and began yelling and cursing at him to stop, the student said. Catlett did not know the plain-clothed investigator was an officer.

The investigator pushed Catlett and grabbed him by the garbage bag, ripping his mask off and leaving a cut on his face, the student said. He called Catlett a punk and repeatedly cursed at him while telling him to leave.

Minutes later, after they initially parted ways, the investigator made Catlett sit on the ground and cross his hands behind his back. The investigator then placed one hand on Catlett’s head and kept one hand on his gun while cursing at the Cal Poly student, Catlett said.

The officers who arrived were also angry at him, but they were calmer, more rational and trying to get both sides of the story, Catlett said.

Officers said he committed a misdemeanor but were going to call it even and not seek charges. The officers said Catlett could have been arrested because the ribbons were city property, the student said.

Catlett would have stopped if told to do so by police, he said. Catlett said he was attacked, and that is what the police stand for. They try to protect and serve themselves, Catlett said.


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SloCal Yocal

Cooler heads need to prevail on both sides of this divisive incident. As a Cal-Poly Alumni, I was deeply saddened and ashamed by Catlett’s actions, and pray daily for Officer Benedetti’s family, and for all law enforcement, military, firefighters, medical personnel, and all our selfless heroes! Catlett’s deeply-rooted divisive behavior needs to be a wake-up call to our broken educational system! The shortcoming’s of our society have allowed the proliferation of myopic and narcissistic individuals, who have become organized groups that have no respect for their fellow beings…and they act out, like terrier dogs (I know because I’ve owned a few terriers), without thinking of the consequences of their actions. They often perform misguided actions, thinking they’re right, and everyone else is wrong! Millions of innocent people have been killed or injured over these types of misdirected calls to action. Fortunately, Catlett’s action was more restrained, but misguided just the same. The “my beliefs are better than your beliefs” mentality must end, or our increasing unstable divided democracy will implode. Our education system needs to address this problem in the schools, colleges, and universities by providing mandatory courses and workshops that will teach our posterity the value of mutual respect…and the need to work together for the Greater Goodness of All. Yes, I know this a lofty, idealistic way of thinking…but critical to our survival…not only for our community and nation, but the entire world! Yes, I believe some law enforcement practices need to be reviewed and corrected…and I’ll reserve my opinion here for why I think Officer Luca Benedetti’s death was senseless…but I still pray daily that these heroes are kept out of harm’s way! If we humans could all behave and peacefully coexist, there would be no need for law enforcement or our military…but free will and evil always seems to get in the way of this ethereal wish. But, I digress…I would have expected better behavior from Alex Catlett, and hope that Cal-Poly will take a hard look at how they can prevent future incidents like these from students who should know better!


Can Cal Poly go back to being a Polytechnic university rather than a liberal cesspool? The liberal cesspool that is Humboldt State, with declining enrollment, now wants to be Cal Poly.


George Garrigues

Thank you, CCN, for this very thorough and non-judgmental report.


Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter, What the worlds is wrong with intelligent people politically hyped into the ideological stratosphere?


It’s obvious, the poor lad was frightened for his very life, because a certain Cal Poly professor told him to be…


He did not understand the significant impact removing the ribbons would have yet he was bothered by the “Blue Lives Matter” message and Blue Lives Matter flags are blatant racism. Maybe this punk should go to Minneapolis or Portland and cut down Black lives Matters signs and hope he walks away with only a scratch on his face.


Alex Catlett seems like a spoiled snot, ready to graduate Cal Poly. Another fine young man ready to contribute to society after getting his fill of higher education. So proud the educators and Mr Catlett’s family must be of such behavior. I assume that the English Department feels Alex is an impressive student and demonstrates the values they have endeavored to instill within him.

Aren’t we fortunate to have Cal Poly bringing these bright and esteemed individuals into our community!


Mr. Catlett got the confrontation he was seeking.


…and now the publicity.


Its ironic that people who demand respect tolerance and acceptance have zero respect tolerance and acceptance for others…