*Correction – We initially reported that the camp was operated by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, this is incorrect, they are the agency who is currently investigating the case. The Huntington Park and South Gate Police Departments were in operation of the camp, and the following article has been changed to reflect these updated facts.
Los Angeles, California – Police from the Huntington Park and South Gate Police Departments were recently accused of physically and verbally abusing children. The alleged abuse took place at a camp they were operating at Camp San Luis Obispo, a California Army National Guard Military Base.
The children, ages 12 to 16, were participating in a 20-week-long program that aimed to teach discipline and leadership as well as reduce family conflict, according to a news release from Owen’s law firm. The program included the weeklong camp in San Luis Obispo.
At least seven children who were enrolled in the Leadership Empowerment and Discipline program (LEAD), have come forward about the abuse that took place during the most recent classes between May 17th and 24th. The LEAD program is sponsored by the Huntington Park Police Department, South Gate Police Department, and the California National Guard.
A week after the classes were over, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office received a report from Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, which detailed the accusations of abuse. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the case.
According to the report, the children say that officers involved with the camp routinely “slapped, punched, and stepped on their hands and backs while doing push-ups” and “took them into a dark room where they were beaten if they did not meet the expectations of the camp supervisors.” The report also indicated that the children were “given towels to clean the blood off of themselves prior to exiting the room after the beatings.”
Bridget Salazar said her 13-year-old son was punched, slammed up against a wall and choked.
“He just couldn’t stop crying,” Salazar said. “Right there, I knew something happened.”
While there are a number of officers accused in the report, two instructors, referred to as the “Gomez Brothers” were among the worst abusers.
“They would put their arms, forearms up against their neck, push them against the wall, and then both brothers would beat them,” attorney Greg Owen told KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero.
According to attorneys, the officers named in the report were suspended from the camp and reassigned, but were not suspended from their jobs.
In a statement released Monday, South Gate Police Capt. James Teeples said that, “Recently, we received notification from some participants in the program who made allegations concerning the disciplinary measures and tactics used by members of both organizations. Both agencies believe in complete transparency and take all allegations very seriously.”
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.