Photos by Nadin and Tom Abbott
Video Credit Tom Abbott. Warning it may contain some rough language.
Sep 28, 2016 (San Diego) The mood continues to be one of anger and frustration in El Cajon. The people gathered at the site of the shooting all day, and have gone marching around all day. When we were there, between 6 and about 9 at night, we heard many people take to the microphone and speak of their frustration with the system.
They were clear that something had to be done, and while we do not have names, we have quotes. One of the people who spoke, a woman, said the following: “We who want justice are many. And we unite and talk our minds aplenty, our hearts to freedom and our feet to the streets.” She also said that the people could succeed in this struggle if they worked together.
One white woman spoke about how this is not a white person’s struggle, and that whites are benefiting from the privileged of society. Whites might have never held slaves, but whites benefit every time they go to a bank and get a loan, or in a job interview. It was time for whites to protect people, and stand as allies.
Another woman said that “this is everybody’s movement.
One man spoke of how women, black women, have to be treated as queens, since they brought all to the world. He added, that it was time to stop using the word bitch to refer to them. There is a need for respect.
Another gentleman talked of the role of faith. This is what sustains people, and when somebody in the crowd screamed at him about slavery being a 400 year issue, he answered. “what is 400 years when faced with eternity?”
We also watched conversations on how the system needs to see all as humans. Not just one group, or another, but all are humans and bleed red. This will never stop until we all see each other as creatures of god, made in his image. Many also lit candles at the vigil, to remember Alfred Olango.
In the middle of this, a young man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat started to walk around the crowd. Some of the people answered that open taunt with “Fuck Donald Trump.” People were angry and would have let him be, we suspect if he just walked around and did not become vocal.In fact, we have sound that all some wanted to do was to make fun of him.
He did say words to the effect of “trump is right and he is going to deport you to Africa.” That is when a group started to chase him around and what looked like a fight broke up. His hat went flying, not once, not twice, but a few times.
He went back for it, and this reporter heard him clearly state, “this is my property!” Others in the crowd said “no violence, as he was chased around the parking lot: and they kept chanting this almost as a mantra. Some of the people half pushed him and half dragged him out of the area, and to the back alley and handed him to officers, who responded to the scene en force and with lights and sirens. The officers were from both San Diego Sheriffs, and National City Police.
His hat was burned by some in the crowd, to the delight of some in the crowd. This was a clear provocation, that goes with the one we witnessed yesterday. As officers withdrew from the scene, a white kid threw a mason jar at the officers. He was quickly surrounded by community members who told him that if he threw anything more, they would turn him over to the officers.
Later one the speakers said that the media was portraying them as some kind of rabble rousers that just wanted to riot. What they were doing was venting an anger that is deep and has been heard off in many places around the country. This was not new. The signs that some carried, such as end systemic racism were clear at that point. This speaker said that was they were doing was “fighting for our rights!” This was a common theme.
Joe Stein was once again speaking of colonialism and control of people of color, and how they needed to take this moment to fight. Some of the younger people, not just Stein, argued that this was a moment for revolution, but when the moment with the Trump supporter happened, he was one of the people trying to keep the peace. That said, he got volunteers to act as march marshals, and led one group to the streets. All day they have been marching around, and all day the police have been blocking freeway onramps, such as Mollison. Becuase of this getting in and out of the area has been hard, and we were told by a local how to get out.
There is one critical point that I need to add. This is a constant we have heard from many people in different communities, ranging from El Cajon, to City Heights, to South East and even the far East County. People do not trust the police. To say everybody would be false, but a good number do not. They are afraid of the police. They feel terrorized by the police. To paraphrase one young man yesterday, “the police are terrorists, and none needs those from the Middle East.” We are not the only media to hear this. Reports from the Department of Justice reveal this as a common thread nationally. So this is not unique to just one community in East County. Changes in how law enforcement approaches it’s job need to happen, if we are to improve the relations between the police and the communities they serve. Cedric Alexander proposed during the hearings for Policing in the 21st Century a dramatic change from the current way, a military way, to a guardian ethos. We really do not know what the answer is, but that we have heard this so often that communities are indeed getting terrorized. That report came after the events in Ferguson Missouri. Two, almost three years on, people are not feeling any changes on the ground. Suffice it to say, this goes well beyond body cameras.
The disruption of the business day also included the closure, at the request of the authorities, of Parkway Plaza, which has been used by police as a staging area. While the officers closed down roads, and on ramps, marchers just kept marking. At one point, after we got home, we heard things get a tad hot. Glass and water bottles were apparently launched at officers, but peacekeepers among those marching have kept this calm, or as calm as can be felt given the deep emotion of hurt.
As one of the speakers put it, they are tired of being afraid. They are done being afraid.
On some matters that are important, this is the statement from Parkway Plaza.
By request of local authorities and out of an abundance of caution, Parkway Plaza will be temporarily closed due to demonstrations in the area. We will let you know when we are scheduled to reopen.
We also had confirmation from El Cajon Police that the object in Olango’s hand was a vaping device. We also are going to refrain from the history that Olango had with law enforcement. The questions are about the present, and what happened in the span of an hour two days ago. Moreover, the responding officers did not have that information, most likely.
Edited to add a point. Second edit to link to the video of the Trump supporter evacuated.