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MODESTO - An event that has stirred up much controversy in the area after its announcement came and went on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The National Straight Pride Coalition, which was unable to obtain a permit to hold their event at local venues, rallied in front of Planned Parenthood on McHenry Avenue at about 1:00pm. The organizers were denied permits to hold events at Graceada Park after failing to secure insurance. An alternative location of the Center Plaza was suggested, however that did not work out for the group either.

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The event drew much controversy in council chambers during recent meetings, with counter-protesters quickly organizing. Graceada Park, described by many attendees of council meetings as a jewel of the city, was mostly quiet Saturday morning. A birthday party was held, as well as another family gathering; a concern of which people opposed to the Straight Pride Event voiced, stating that the park was not a proper venue while family events took place. In the background, police officers on horseback stood watch over the park.

In nearby Enslen Park, counter-protesters gathered to celebrate diversity and acceptance. Those of the LGBTQ community and allies danced to music until receiving word that the Straight Pride event had moved to McHenry Avenue. They quickly organized and marched to the same location

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At the Planned Parenthood office, about 20 members of the Straight Pride Coalition rallied and held signs. Members of the group say they chose the location stating “Planned Parenthood is the biggest killer of African-American babies.”

Ryan Messano, a resident of Vallejo, chose to attend the event in support of the coalition’s efforts. He applauded the group’s mission, saying they were fighting the spread of disinformation and felt the opposition was in favor of normalizing homosexuality.

Messano noted that as counter-protesters arrived and began to chant, that the group was trying to “drown out intellectuals.”

When asked if there was a common ground to discuss differences with the opposition, Messano replied “I love truth more than I love humans. Hurt people are hurting people, I empathize, but I don’t sympathize.”

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Chris Holland, organizer of the counter protest, applauded community efforts to quickly prepare for the day’s events. 

“Things are astounding,” Holland said. “I’m very inspired by everyone here today.”

Holland said the group worked around the clock for a month, with their biggest concern being safety for both groups. 

“The true face of Modesto is love,” Holland said. “There is no common ground with intolerance. People are being fooled by the words straight pride, they are cloaking themselves in religion.”

The reference stems to some of the verbiage listed as core values of the National Straight Pride Coalition on their website. One of the many which drew criticism and label the group as racist was the “inherent superiority of whiteness.” The group later altered the text, deleting the statement.

 

Although the passion of both sides was displayed at times leading to heated discussion, police officials were pleased with the outcome. 

Sergeant Kalani Souza said a total of about 25 officers were present at the Planned Parenthood office, with additional personnel roving the area. The extra staffing was put in place to ensure the safety of both sides, he said. Deputies with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office also assisted throughout the day’s event.

One lane of southbound McHenry Avenue was temporarily blocked to avoid any issues with attendees who quickly filled the sidewalks and parking lot.

Althoug there was a brief disturbance between a bicyclist and a demonstrator, Souza said there were no arrests and no injuries.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2019 04:07

Two Alarm Fire Injures Resident

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CERES - Emergency crews responded to a house fire early Wednesday morning that injured one resident.

The fire was dispatched shortly before 4:00am on the 1400 block of Strawberry Drive. Early reports indicate the occupants self-evacuated as they called 911.

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Officers with the Ceres Police Department arrived and reported heavy fire conditions from the house. Fire crews arrived and quickly requested a second alarm response as the fire threatened a neighboring home.

An ambulance responded to the scene to treat one person who suffered smoke inhalation injuries.

The fire quickly grew to the home, fully engulfing it on fire. A cause and origin was under investigation.

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Tuesday, 20 August 2019 13:58

Major Crash Investigated in Stockton

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STOCKTON - Authorities investigates a major vehicle collision Tuesday afternoon.

The crash happened at the intersection of Hammer Lane and Marinatha Drive, just west of Highway 99.

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Early reports indicate the crash may have happened during a pursuit. At least one vehicle was resting on its roof.

It is unclear exactly how many vehicles were involved. Officers with the Stockton Police Department closed the road off at least one block in either direction.

The number of injured motorists was not available at time of publication, but early reports indicate there may be at least one fatality.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

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STOCKTON - Police investigated the discovery of two deceased people in a home early Monday morning.

Shortly after 8:30am police were called to the 1700 block of Sacchetti Circle for a welfare check. Officers made entry to the location and found two deceased people.

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Detectives were called out to the scene and took over the investigation. Identities and causes of death or circumstances surrounding the deaths were not released at time of publication.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8377 or Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600 where callers can remain anonymous.

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Monday, 19 August 2019 16:36

Pilot Escapes Serious Injury During Hard Landing

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MODESTO - A pilot escaped serious injury while landing when their landing gear collapsed Monday afternoon.

Officials say the pilot who was inbound from Sonora thought something wasn’t right with his landing gear. He then contacted the tower at the airport to do a visual check. The tower did not see any issues.

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As the pilot attempted to make a landing, the gear on the single engine plane collapsed. Emergency crews were dispatched, but there were no reported injuries.

Damage to the aircraft was said to be minor. The NTSB and FAA were notified of the incident.

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Monday, 19 August 2019 15:01

Arrest Made in 27 Year Old Murder Case

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STOCKTON - The Butte County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of a 55 year old man in a decades old murder case Monday afternoon.

Richard Pyle, 55 of Stockton, was arrested for the 1991 murder of Tracy Zandstra. Zandstra was 29 years old at the time of her disappearance. 

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In November of 1991, authorities with the Butte County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the disappearance of Zandstra, which was initially classified as a missing persons case. She and Pyle were in a relationship at the time and living together in Stirling City, according to officials.

Although her body has never been found, detectives continued to investigate the case throughout the 27 years and located evidence that she had been murdered and her body disposed of. Authorities obtained an arrest warrant for Pyle and worked with the Stockton Police Department to locate him. Pyle was listed as a transient.

On August 15th, Pyle was located in Stockton and arrested on the murder warrant.

“I am proud of the persistent determination of the many detectives and investigators who have worked throughout the years to bring justice to Tracy and closure to her family,” Sheriff Kory Honea said.

Pyle was booked into the Butte County Jail with a bail set at one million dollars. He was expected to be arraigned in the Butte County Superior Court Monday afternoon.

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Monday, 19 August 2019 12:59

Drowning Investigation Under Way in Merced County

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MERCED COUNTY - Authorities are investigating a drowning after the discovery of a deceased male in the Merced River.

The discovery was made shortly before 9:00am Monday morning near the town of Cressey. Authorities say the person was found about 40 yards where they were suspected to have gone missing Sunday afternoon.

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The area is located near Santa Fe Drive at the Merced River crossing. Officials believe the person was on horseback crossing the river when the horse lost its footing in a deep area of the river and began swimming. The horse made it safely to shore, but the rider went missing.

Authorities are unsure if the rider dismounted or fell off during the incident. The male has not been identified. Foul play is not suspected.

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