Matt's post seems to reiterate some points in my previous post that I hoped would be avoided and confirm the need for people to actively police (pun intended) situations. I'm not sure that hearsay stories that suggest potential violence and abuse be fanned on here when the facts are possibly unclear.
Again, non-birders/photographers are not aware of owls or birds in general and are caught up in their own world and while irritating to many of us, don't actually "see" birds or a crowd. It is up to someone to flag these people down and politely ask, if possible, that they might take a wide berth. They often do and when enlightened, are mortified that they may have spoilt enjoyment for someone else. If they don't and become abusive, then that is their problem. But to have police and arrests be on the table. It is not the owl giving a bad rep here.
As for surrounding the owl on all sides, this just suggests horrible fieldcraft is in play. As a photographer, I suggest you don't do this. Staying together as a group is best.The bird will always flush if you pincer it. Again, if you are a photographer, and you see this happening, you might want to speak up and suggest a better approach.
I hope Matt's email has a better outcome for the owl and that it is in better health than what is being proposed but without witnessing any of what he mentioned, it seems a much more dire situation all around.
I guess the question is how can we all improve these situations and interactions?