Protests Over the Death of Robert Olango 

Photos Tom and Nadin Abbott
We are not going to solve this by shedding more blood. We need to promote peace.” Pastor Russell Bowman


Sep 27, 2016 (El Cajon) Robert Olango was shot around 2:10 in El Cajon, outside a Mexican Restaurant in a strip mall on the corner of Mollison and Broadway. Reporting San Diego went to the scene around 6 and what we came upon was a crowd of angry people, who are tired that this keeps happening. Some in the crowd were very angry and put this shooting in a global setting. Joe Stein, from the International People’s Movement was adamant as he led the crowd. ‘”The people can succeed if you organize”

joe Stein

He added that this was part of the pattern of colonialism and that “everywhere they are terrorizing us.” He led chants throughout the night, including some old ones coming from Ferguson, “hands up, don’t shoot.” as well as “no justice, no peace, no racist police.”
Beth, who did not want to give Reporting San Diego her last name, told us that she “came down here to be a part of this. The message is going the wrong way.”I asked her what was the message that needed to be conveyed. She said “the communities are tired.” She added that she heard of this in the news, like CNN, but never expected it to happen in her community. She also was adamant. While the young people have a right to be angry, they need to register and go vote. This way of doing things was giving the wrong impression.
The Clergy Shows Up



There were not the younger men, but also clergy. Pastor Cornelius Bowzer came to among other things give support to the family of Alfred Olango. We as of yet do not know of his status, just that he was transported to Sharp in La Mesa. We talked with the pastor for a few minutes. He told us some of what he heard from witness. He was told Olango was having a medical emergency, and had his shirt off. He was told by witnesses that he had his hands up when he was shot. We heard this from a couple others in the crowd.
He also said the same thing many others repeated in the crowd. This is that the community is tired of this happening.
During the protest we had prayer circles formed a few times. One of them was led by Pastor Russell Bowman. He was clear as he led the prayer asking for guidance from Jesus. He was joined by the Compassion Project from San Diego, members of the African American Community that go to homicides to help the families.
There was some tension between younger members of the community that want to take more direct action, and those who seek a more spiritual path
Others Come
It was not just African American people who came to this particular corner where a man might have lost his life. There were also many white people, and young people. We talked with Ramona Irwyn, who came to join in the peaceful protest. She is a Bernicrat and is part of the Bernie Sanders Brigade. She came because her group is working in social justice causes, and making things better for all. She is also rimming for office for District 50. She is convinced that “if we work together we can change things.” Her group is also involved in getting supplies for the standing Rock protesters in North Dakota.
We also saw plenty of people of different backgrounds, in some cases hugging each other and praying with each other this included young people, and some who just came to watch.
The Police…
Chief Jeff Davis gave an update after this was over. He said his department is committed to transparency. He said this will be reviewed by the District Attorney and that his homicide investigators are doing it with DA personnel; he did not give any details beyond that this was a man in his thirties, though a new press release says: “Officers provided first aid on scene until medics arrived and transported the subject to an area hospital for treatment. The subject has passed away as a result of his injuries.”

We have to recognize the police though, for a very orderly withdrawal, with no further escalation at the scene. They faded back and into an alley. A line of Sheriffs in riot gear and two police dogs held the line and then withdrew as well. Even after somebody threw a bottle the officers did not react.
The police also released this still from the cell phone video.

Photo Courtesy ECPD

 

Though there were reports that cell phones were taken by officers at the business where this happened. The American Civil Liberties Union posted this.

 

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties was concerned to learn of the shooting of a Black man by police officers in El Cajon earlier this afternoon.

 

It is too early to know many of the details of the actual shooting and what preceded it, and we hope that the El Cajon Police Department and the San Diego District Attorney provide the public with answers as quickly as possible, with transparency and accountability for all involved.

 

Unfortunately, there are disturbing reports from a number of witnesses that police officers confiscated cell phones from people who witnessed the shooting. Confiscating cell phones is a violation of the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable seizure without warrant or exigent circumstance) and the First Amendment (interference with the right to record in public) under the U.S. Constitution and analogous rights under the California Constitution. It is hard to see any kind of Fourth Amendment exigent circumstances at issue here.

 

The First Amendment issues are also significant, because by seizing phones, police would likely be preventing the dissemination of video captured by bystanders. The public has the right to film police in public places, and police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photos or video without a warrant. Under no circumstances may police officers delete your photos or videos.

 

We will be paying close attention as the details of this situation unfold and our thoughts are with the family of the shooting victim.

 

Update. Both officers are on administrative leave, which is standard. One deployed taser, the other fired his weapon.

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  1. El Cajon Police Release Video of Officer Involved Shooting – Reporting San Diego
  2. The People of San Diego in 2016 – Reporting San Diego

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