October 23, 2002
Arts and Entertainment
The teacher's story
Anthony Pebbles says he was busted for trying to videotape the arrests
ANTHONY PEBBLES BEGAN the morning of Oct. 11 thinking about a lesson plan for his literature students at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School.
A few hours later, after a student conflict, a fight, and a police response that saw more than 60 officers arrive at Marshall, some with clubs and riot gear, the 29-year-old teacher was under arrest, facing charges of battery on an officer, interfering with an arrest, and suspicion of inciting a riot.
The legal mess began when Pebbles was in his classroom, looking out the window after hearing a commotion down the hallway.
"I went outside, and I saw all of these police with students handcuffed, and I wanted to know what was going on," Pebbles told me after the incident. "I walked into the [main] office, and I then saw a girl student thrown out of the door by the police, face first."
He said when he tried to find out what was happening, he was pushed back by police officers.
"An officer asked someone, "Who the fuck is this?' " Pebbles recalled. "I was told to get the fuck out of there [the office]."
Pebbles went back to his classroom to get a video recorder, then returned to the office and began videotaping as police arrested students. He quickly found himself under arrest, too.
"When I begin videotaping the incident, I was arrested for supposedly hitting a cop and inciting a riot," Pebbles said.
Jeff Adachi, Pebbles's attorney, said the charges against his client are "ridiculous."
"I have looked at the police report, and I am confident that when the investigation is complete, the charges will be dismissed," he said.
Captain Michael Puccinelli told the San Francisco Chronicle that Pebbles was inciting violence. "He was saying the police were wrong. He certainly didn't act like a responsible faculty member," the captain was quoted as saying.
Adachi said Pebbles's actions were motivated by his concern for the students.
"His actions were to document what was happening," Adachi said. "He saw his students being arrested, brutalized, and being handcuffed."
Pebbles is on administrative leave pending an investigation by the school district. His arraignment has been set for Nov. 15, and the police are holding his videotape as evidence.
"The tape has not been released yet, but I am anxious to view this," Adachi said. "If they decide to file the case, we will get a copy of it."
Pebbles has no doubt what the ultimate verdict is: "'The police handled this situation ridiculously."