Unruly NFC Championship fans face ouster from game
By BETH DUFF-BROWN, Associated Press, Jan 20, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Don’t yell obscenities, don’t flip the bird—and don’t even think about insulting anyone’s mother.
The San Francisco 49ers and the NFL have adopted extraordinary security measures for Sunday’s NFC championship against the New York Giants after New Orleans Saints fans complained of harassment by unruly 49ers faithful last week.
Undercover police will be dressed in Giants’ garb and on the lookout for nasty fans. Giants ticketholders will be handed a card as they enter Candlestick Park with details on how to contact police if they feel threatened. And more security cameras and undercover police officers will be in place to identify abusive fans.
Season ticketholders have also been warned to follow the NFL Fan Code of Conduct: no foul or abusive language or obscene gestures and no verbal or physical abuse of opposing team fans.
The nail-biting 36-32 win last Saturday for the 49ers was the team’s first playoff game in nine years, and a raucous crowd was on hand to enjoy the victory at the expense of the Saints.
“I apologize for any rudeness that may have happened,” San Francisco 49ers president and CEO Jed York said. “I think you saw 49ers fans who were very excited about hosting a playoff game for the first time in a long time.”
Those fans were so excited that they ruined the day for a shaken Don Moses and his two teenage daughters. Moses, a longtime Bay Area resident who is from New Orleans, said they were wearing the Saints colors and prepared for some good-natured ribbing.
Instead, he tells a horror story of fear and humiliation when his daughters asked him why he didn’t do anything to stop the hulking 49ers fans who yelled vulgarities and threw footballs at them, screamed in their faces and called their mother a whore.
“The hostility and threats of violence were a constant throughout our experience,” Moses said in a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, one that launched some soul-searching by city officials and led to some 49ers fans to apologize on behalf of their city.
“Every other word from dozens of fans around us was an f-bomb shouted at the top of their lungs,” Moses said. “There were seven or eight large 30- to 35-year-old guys directly behind us who cursed and threatened us the entire game.” He turned to ask them to tone it down in front of his girls and they yelled: “Do not turn around again! Do not ever turn around again.”
He was afraid that if the fans saw him calling or texting security, the men would harm his daughters.
“Every 49ers fan, the team and its owners should be ashamed and embarrassed to wear the red and gold today,” Moses wrote in the letter published Tuesday. “They won the game but are losers in every other way.”
NFL security director Jeff Miller told the AP that if the security cameras or undercover police catch such abusive behavior by fans on Sunday, they will be yanked from the stadium.
“We’ll be looking early on to identify people trying to do those things in the parking areas and take action to remove them,” said Miller, who will be at the game. “We’re not going to be warning people inside the stadium. They will be removed.”
Authorities are already sensitive about the heartbreaking case of Brian Stow, a paramedic and San Francisco Giants fan who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a beating by two men dressed in Dodgers gear following the home opener against the Giants in Los Angeles on March 31. Medical care for Stow is expected to cost as much as $50 million and the father of two has sued the Dodgers.
Tailgating after kickoff already has been banned from the parking lot at Candlestick Park under security measures introduced after two shootings, a beating and fights broke out during an Aug. 20 pre-season game with across-the-bay rivals Oakland Raiders.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said he heard first-hand how Saints fans were treated last Saturday when he gave three of them a lift from the stadium back into the city after the game. They gave him an earful about how badly they’d been belittled.
“We’re all native San Franciscans and, you know, that’s not the way we want to represent the team and the city,” Suhr said.
He said Mayor Ed Lee instructed him to do whatever it takes to make Giants fans feel safe.
Police officers and team personnel at the ticket gates will be welcoming them with cards that tell them how to contact police.
The 49ers also purchased Giants attire for undercover police officers.
“They’ll be seated around the stadium as decoys, if you will, trying to draw out the obnoxious fans and they will be removed immediately,” he said.
Then there are the lights.
A good portion of the game will be played under the same stadium lights that blacked out and delayed the nationally televised Monday Night Football game between the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 19.
The city and the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. insist there won’t be an embarrassing repeat of the two blackouts at the 51-year-old stadium, which had prompted the mayor to call the night a “national embarrassment.”
PG&E spokesman Joe Molica is confident the nearly $1 million in upgrades to the park by the electric utility and the city will prove the old bayside stadium proud.
He said the wire for the electrical circuit that serves the park has been replaced with more than a mile and a half of new wire that is resistant to contact and carries three times the electrical load. A new computer system allows workers to better monitor the circuit.
The command center at the stadium has conducted a string of tests simulating the Dec. 19 blackout and everything tested well.
Will Molica be holding his breath on Sunday about another blackout?
No, he said, “I’ll be holding my breath for the 49ers to win.”
Conviction reversed in Super Bowl massacre threat
Fri Jan 6, 2012 4:05pm EST
(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the conviction of an Arizona man who plotted to open fire on crowds attending the 2008 Super Bowl in Tempe, Arizona.
An 11-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found Kurt Havelock was not guilty of mailing threatening communications to any individual person when he sent letters to media organizations describing his plan for the game-day massacre.
Havelock, upset over being denied a liquor license to open a bar, had purchased an assault rifle and ammunition for the attack, the court opinion said. On the way to the stadium, he dropped six packages in the mail to media organizations including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times containing what he labeled an “econo-political” manifesto.
“It will be swift, and bloody. I will sacrifice your children upon the altar of your excess,” he wrote in the document, which he expected to be read after he was killed in an act of “suicide by cops.” After arriving at the stadium parking lot, Havelock had a change of heart and turned himself in to police.
A jury convicted Havelock of six counts of mailing threatening communications to a person, sentencing him to one year in prison.
On appeal, Havelock argued he was not guilty under the federal law because he mailed the letters to corporations, not individuals. The law makes it a crime to threaten to kidnap or injure a person. A majority of the appeals court panel agreed, finding the statute referred only to people, not corporations.
“It simply makes no sense to threaten to kidnap a corporation, or injure the person of a corporation,” Judge Betty Fletcher wrote for the majority.
Prosecutors had argued the court should read the letters, not just the mailing label, to determine who Havelock intended to threaten. In his manifesto, Havelok said he would “slay your children.” But the 9th Circuit majority found it “highly unlikely” Havelock was addressing any particular person whose children he would slay.
Two judges dissented, finding Havelock intended his manifesto to be read by the general public.
“Kurt clearly didn’t have the intent to threaten anybody even though the document he put in the mailbox contained disturbing statements,” said Havelock’s lawyer, Daniel Kaplan.
Havelock planned to die in the attack and didn’t intend readers to be threatened after the fact, he said.
Prosecutors were “studying the opinion to review our options and we’ll continue to charge appropriate cases to protect the public,” a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona said.
A man boasted on Facebook that he and his friends beat up two Rangers fans outside a Philadelphia cheesesteak hotspot following Monday’s NHL Winter Classic.
Police have released video footage online in the hope of catching the group of Flyers fans, but a man named Edward Neary appeared Wednesday to admit his participation in the attack.
Neary wrote on Facebook, “it was me and my friends do something about it,” and then used a homophobic slur. His Facebook page, which has since been deleted, said that Neary graduated from high school in 2009.
Neary later blamed the incident on his friends, identifying three by name, and claiming the Rangers fans instigated the fight.
He made the claim on a Facebook page for Flyers fans called Broad Street Hockey. The operator of the page had posted video of the fight in an effort to help police identify the attackers.
Three suspects wearing Flyers jerseys are seen in the video repeatedly punching the two men in Rangers jerseys outside Geno’s Steaks in the south of the city. Officials said the attack occurred around 7:15 p.m. local time.
One of the victims, later revealed to be off-duty Woodbridge, N.J., police officer Neal Auricchio Jr., was hospitalized with a concussion following the attack, his father told the New York Post.
“He’s in pretty tough shape,” Neal Auricchio Sr. said. “He got beat up pretty bad.”
He said his son, a former US Marine who served two tours and earned a Purple Heart, had driven down to Philadelphia with a friend to watch the outdoor Winter Classic between the two rivals.
Neal Auricchio Sr. said his son told him a pack of Flyers fans began talking trash and then jumped him.
The father pleaded with the attackers to turn themselves in.
“You did the wrong thing, now do the right thing and take your punishment,” he said.
One arrested in fight at basketball game
Three Millville players face dismissal
10:27 PM, Dec. 19, 2011
MILLVILLE — A former student was charged with aggravated assault and three players face removal from the Millville High School basketball team following an “altercation that was at the brink of turning into a potential riot” at a game, the school district’s superintendent said.
“We’re not going to put up with it. That is not the kind of district we have,” Superintendent David Gentile said in response to the incident that occurred just before 8 p.m. Friday at a home game between the Thunderbolts and Atlantic City High School.
No one was seriously injured and police averted what came close to being a melee among several fans and players of both teams, according to Gentile, who was not at the game but was briefed by staff.
Police arrested a former student, Shaquille Battle, 18, of the 300 block of East Main Street. He fought with Millville police officers arresting him after he refused to leave the building, authorities said.
Battle swung at police and pushed off a wall with his feet as officers tried to restrain him, according to Detective Sgt. Harold Duffield Jr. A police officer’s glasses were broken during the incident, according to Duffield, though it wasn’t clear if the officer was punched by Battle.
He was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, failure to disburse, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. Battle was held in Cumberland County Jail on $50,000 bail.
At one point, a player who had been ejected from the game reportedly rushed back into the gym toward the Atlantic City side before he was restrained.
The school district Monday was continuing a probe into the incident, according to Gentile, and more students could face disciplinary measures. Officials did not identify the three players who may be kicked off the team.
Athletic Director Dave LaGamba said the school would like to move all varsity home games to 4 p.m., starting with this Thursday’s matchup against Middle Township. He said the school also is considering prohibiting fans from sitting in bleachers behind the player benches.
“It’s not what we’re about, and we don’t want to have these things happen,” Gentile said.
Canucks hockey fan claims attack at Sharks game
By The Associated Press
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — San Jose police are investigating a 16-year-old girl’s report that she was assaulted during a Sharks National Hockey League game at HP Pavilion while wearing the opposing team’s jersey.
Maggie Herger told the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/uzIOsB ) that a drunken Sharks fan hit her in the head during Wednesday’s game between the Sharks and Vancouver Canucks.
Herger, of Discovery Bay, says she suffered a concussion and was taken away in an ambulance.
But according to the Sharks, the other fan told police and arena staff the contact was accidental and occurred during the celebration of a Sharks goal.
Police say they have taken statements from witnesses but don’t expect to assign detectives to the case for at least a few days, and nobody has been arrested.