Members of the La Habra Heights Improvement Association were concerned that videographer George Edwards would make them look bad with his camera.
So they pounced on him and attacked him before he could do so, making themselves look bad instead.
Now the video they were trying to prevent the rest of the community from watching will most likely go viral.
Soon the world will know that the Southern Californian community described on Wikipedia as an “excellent, healthy environment to raise children,” is about as dysfunctional as a crack-smoking welfare mom.
The video takes place inside a publicly funded gymnasium where a 67-year-old man named John Pearce can be heard complaining about the camera being in his face.
However, the camera is not in his face. It is, in fact, pointed in the direction of a group of seated people waiting for a meeting to start.
It’s not until Pearce says, “Don’t put that camera in my face, asshole” that Edwards swings the camera in his direction where we can clearly see Pearce grabbing onto his camera aggressively.
The video then cuts to another angle from another videographer named Steven Blagden who captures Pearce aggressively assaulting a much younger and taller Edwards by knocking his camera down.
“You just attacked me,” Edwards tells him.
“No, he didn’t, he attacked your camera,” a woman named Karen Vipperman pipes in. “You’re such a drama queen. Get out of here.
“You’re going to make stuff up anyway.”
Actually, Karen, you can’t make this stuff up.
We then see a 59-year-old retired cop named Jeffrey Heintz trying to wrestle Edwards’ $44,000 camera out of his hands.
Edwards backs away and Heintz chases him around the gymnasium as he tells him “we are not attacking you, you are attacking members of the improvement association.”
Then another woman begins following Edwards around the gym, berating him by telling him he is not welcome in the meeting because he is “not a member” of the improvement association. Never mind the fact that the meeting was held in a public venue and supposedly open to the public.
The improvement association has also received thousands of dollars in public funds, including $6,000 from Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, according to this account of the incident on Blagden’s site.
After being chased out of the gym by the mob of senior citizens, Edwards called the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office who eventually arrived and charged everybody involved with battery but made no physical arrests, according to the incident report.
“They didn’t even want to look at the video,” Edwards said during a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Monday night. “Now I guess we have to wait until the D.A. sees the video.”
Edwards said that Blagden was videotaping with a little point-and-shoot, so the seniors probably didn’t realize they were being filmed as they were attacking him. Listen to his 911 call here.
The incident obviously stems from some bad blood between Edwards and the members of this so-called improvement association.
“I am a preservationist and they’re all developers,” he said. “They’re a bunch of manipulators and they’re trying to redevelop this town into high density and we don’t want that.”
Edwards was a member of the association at one point but resigned because he believed it was violating California Corporations Code. Blagden later revealed that it committed possible mail fraud.
At last years’s General Meeting, which was not videotaped, the Association announced that they had taken away members’ right to vote for Directors and had held a secret election prior to the Meeting, even though an Election had been noticed for that meeting. California Corporations Code requires members’ consent before their voting rights can be taken away. The Improvement Association did not ask for that consent.
At the same meeting, they refused to release their by-laws for viewing, and a request to see them is still outstanding after a year. California Corporations Code requires them to provide their by-laws upon request.
Resident and then-Improvement Association member George Edwards said at the time that he was so sickened by their behavior and actions that he would not renew his membership as a sign of protest. Others have done the same.
Later investigation revealed that the Improvement Association had been misrepresenting themselves as a 501(c)3 tax-deductible non-profit, when they were not. The Association solicited dues and contributions, falsely stating that those contributions would be tax deductible.
The U.S.Postal Service Postal Inspector said that that type of solicitation qualifies as “Mail Fraud”.
The La Habra Heights Improvement Association describes itself on its website as a non-profit. To contact the organization, call (562) 697-4317.