San Diego protesters took to social media Friday with charges that a staff member who works for City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf called them "f—king idiots with their hands up" and added, "I wanted to shoot them."
According to KPBS, on Wednesday during the City Council inauguration, community representative Shirley Owen grew tired of protesters who gathered, first, outside Golden Hall in downtown San Diego chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot," in support of the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., that left unarmed teen Michael Brown dead and the officer responsible facing no prosecution.
The protesters then reportedly moved inside the building, where they began a silent protest that included holding their hands above their heads and making choking gestures in memory of Eric Garner, a Staten Island, N.Y., father of six who died while in police custody. Protesters then staged a die-in.
According to the news station, the approximately two dozen protesters, led by Mark Jones, a Marine veteran and college junior, did not verbally interrupt the event, which included speeches from three council members, but directly after closing remarks, the protesters began chanting.
Members of the media who were waiting to speak with Zapf reportedly overheard Owen call the protesters "idiots" and state that she wanted to "shoot them."
Zapf told the news station that "she supported the demonstrators' right to protest and said they were not disruptive at the ceremony." When told about the comment that Owen reportedly made, Zapf noted that she would speak with her. Communications Director Alex Bell sent a statement to KPBS on Thursday after follow-up calls with Zapf's office.
"Protesting is one of the rights guaranteed to us by the First Amendment, and council member Zapf fully supports that right," according to the statement viewed by the news station. "Regarding any comment that may or may not have been made by a staff member, action is being taken internally to address the issue. Due to the city's personnel rules, I am unable to discuss this matter further at this time."
Bell also added that neither Zapf nor Owen would comment, KPBS reports.
"I know that I have to go through this very system to produce change," Jones, a 33-year-old student at San Diego State University, told the news station. "I have to fight against that just so I can get our human rights."
Read more at KPBS.