BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos Police Department has requested a criminal summons from Los Alamos Municipal Court charging Lauren Palermo, 25, of Los Alamos with battery following an incident Sunday at a Black Lives Matter protest at Ashley Pond Park.
The Los Alamos Reporter reached out Monday morning to Chief Dino Sgambellone on the issue
“The Police Department was called to Ashley Pond over the weekend regarding an alleged battery involving members of two distinct groups. While the Department supports the individual right to protest peacefully, we cannot and will not tolerate violence,” he said. “It is understandable that people have very passionate views about varying societal issues, but common sense and civility must prevail. Regardless of an individual’s societal views, at the point they become unwilling or unable to remain peaceful, we will take enforcement action as appropriate.
We live in a great community; a safe community, and it is the Department’s mission to fairly and impartially ensure our community remains safe for all people.”
According to an LAPD report on the incident, Sgt. Ben Irving responded to a call to Ashley Pond concerning a fight. On arrival, he made contact with a witness who said she had seen a woman leave the area of the BLM protest and walk over to a group of Trump supporters gathered in the south parking lot. The witness said she saw the woman grab the hat off the head of one of the Trump supporters and throw it into the street. She stated she then saw the man and the young woman get into a scuffle and that she ran over to the scene and guided the young woman back towards a table within the protest area.
Irving’s report said he asked the witness to bring the woman over so that he could interview her. He said Cpl. David Randleman informed him that Cmdr. Preston Ballew, who was off duty at the time, had witnessed the altercation. Irving said he identified the woman as Lauren Palermo. The report states that when Irving asked Palermo what happened, she said she was attending the BLM protest when she “started hearing the Republican nominee supporters making racial and insensitive remarks toward the protesters”.
“She stated she punched him (indicating (RH) because he was racist”, Irving’s report states. “Cpl. (Joseph) Dezendorf advised me later that Lauren had also admitted to striking (JH) in the face for wearing a ‘(expletive) China” facemask’. I reviewed Cpl. Dezendorf’s body worn camera (BWC) footage and heard this interaction and statement.”
Irving said he advised Palermo she would be summoned for battery and that she needed to leave the premises and that she had complied. He said he then went to speak with (RH).
“(RH) stated Lauren came over to them and called them ‘racist’. She then allegedly asked why they were voting a certain way and (RH) stated he told her he would not speak with her for calling him a racist. (RH) stated she then grabbed his hat off of his head and threw it in the roadway. (RH) stated he then saw his mothers’ head (JH) go back, so he grabbed Lauren believing she had struck (JH). He stated Lauren kicked him in the (testicles) and scratched him. Photographs were taken of both (RH) and (JH’s) injuries,” Irving’s report stated.
Dezendorpf’s report said that (RH Sr.) told him Palermo struck him also.
“I had a chance to speak with Lauren Palermo as well. When I asked what happened she stated, ‘I hit the one that’s wearing the (expletive) China mask – because why would you wear that?’
Cpl. David Randleman’s report stated that Cmdr. Ballew told him that he had seen Palermo approach the individuals with the Trump 2020 and American flags and begin punching and kicking them.
A criminal complaint was filed in Los Alamos Municipal Court Monday morning requesting a summons to Court for Palermo. As of Monday morning, the complaint had not been reviewed by Municipal Judge Elizabeth Allen.