Pro-seal activist Marjane Aalam was arrested by police and charged with assault and battery in an incident that occurred just after midnight at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool on May 9, according to the San Diego Police Department.
“It was a citizen’s arrest by a father and his 16-year-old daughter,” said police spokeswoman Monica Munoz. “The victim and his daughter were coming down the stairs to go to the beach and she (Aalam) warned them not to. They went to another beach and then came back and said they wanted to see the seals and Marjane was still there and she told them, ‘You can’t come down here, can’t get near the seals.’ And they said, ‘Leave us alone, we have a right to be here.’”
Aalam said Sunday while attending an event at the pool, that she heads up a team of four volunteers who, for the past year, have been patrolling the beach every night to protect the seals.
“People don’t see the seals, they think they’re rocks or seaweed,” she said. “There is also some reluctance among some police officers to check the (security) cameras (on the old lifeguard station).
Capt. Shelly Zimmerman of SDPD’s Northern Division said Monday police received a radio call Saturday night from an adult and juvenile who said they were placing Aalam under citizen’s arrest.
“We took full investigation and one of our detectives took Aalam into custody and booked her into Las Colinas,” she said. “The case, alleging assault and battery, is being thoroughly investigated and will be sent to the City Attorney.”
Zimmerman added she had a talk with Aalam in which she informed her of the protocol in place dealing with human-seal relations at Children’s Pool.
“The beach is open,” she said. “I explained to her that in no way is she authorized, by myself or anyone in the city, to assume responsibility for the Children’s Pool, which is what she has tried to do. She has no authority to close the beach.”
Zimmerman added that a sign at the pool reads: “Public access on the beach is allowed at all times. Please be respectful of the seals on the beach. Harassment of marine mammals is against the law.”
Munoz said the father and his daughter allege that Aalam pulled the daughter’s hair and, when the father tried to intercede, threw sand in the father’s face, after which he contacted police.