On the march: Protesters continue rallies throughout San Diego County over racial inequality

Black Lives Matter protesters march near San Diego City College .
Black Lives Matter protesters march near San Diego City College on June 14, 2020. The rally started in Balboa Park, went through downtown San Diego and ended at police headquarters.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

People take to the streets from Oceanside to La Mesa to downtown as BLM momentum continues


The momentum driving local protests for racial equality and police reform continued Sunday with a series of peaceful demonstrations stretching from Oceanside to La Mesa to Coronado.

While some crowds appeared smaller than events held on local streets earlier, the sheer number of protests has persisted in the wake of unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25.

About 200 people gathered around the Oceanside Civic Center Sunday to march through downtown and out to the pier, chanting “Say her name — Breonna Taylor! Say his name! George Floyd!”

The event was not as big as last weekend’s Oceanside protest, which attracted thousands of demonstrators. Organizer Camille McKnight, 18, said she’s glad the conversation around racism and law enforcement reforms is continuing.

“The fact the conversation is still going and it’s still prominent here only makes me more excited for what we can do here as a community,” she said.

McKnight would like to see at least a portion of police funding reallocated to support education and social services. While the Oceanside Unified School District struggles to compensate teachers, police budgets continue to rise.

“Why is it education systems can be defunded but police can’t?” she asked.

While spending on law enforcement remained a core theme for protesters, the slogan “Defund the Police” was not as prominent as it has been in recent demonstrations.

Breanna Lucero, 24, who marched in Oceanside with friends Yesenia Alvarez and Nicole Zavaleta, said when people chant abolish or defund the police it does not mean they want a free-for-all.

Instead, she said, it means the system needs to be overhauled, and a good first step is demilitarizing law enforcement and redirecting resources to education and social services.

“A lot of people against protesting think this is about one man or a couple people, but it’s not,” she said. “This is a whole protest against what the system has been and continues to be.... and we can’t stop protesting until we see a change.”

In La Mesa, about 150 to 200 motorcyclists took part in a unity ride from Oak Park to police headquarters in La Mesa at 1 p.m. to join up with another group of protesters gathering to demonstrate against racism and police brutality.

The demonstration broke up peacefully around 5 p.m., according to the La Mesa Police Department.

The city became a hot spot for protests after the arrest of an African American man at a trolley stop was recorded on cell phone video, which showed the officer grabbing and shoving Amaurie Johnson in the moments before he was detained.

Johnson was not hurt, but critics have questioned why he was approached by officers. Police dropped all charges against him after a review of the evidence.

On May 30, protests in La Mesa turned to riots, with several stores looted and two banks burned to the ground.

Sunday’s protesters chanted for justice and accountability for Leslie Furcron, a 59-year-old woman shot in the eye with a beanbag projectile during demonstrations on May 30.She was in a coma for a week.

Protesters chanted “pure justice” as an organizer told the crowd, “We are telling La Mesa they better do the right thing because we are going to continue to show up and we are going to continue to shut it down.”

A crowd of about 200 also gathered near the San Diego Zoo around 2 p.m. and marched to the San Diego Police Department headquarters where they encountered a line of two dozen police officers and “do not cross” tape at 14th Street and Broadway.

Protesters laid flowers at the barricades and then teen speakers addressed the crowd. They demanded the city spend less on police and more on schools and services.

First time protesters Daivieon White, 16, and Will Scott, 17, both of San Diego, marched to emphasize that police should treat everyone with respect regardless of the color of their skin.

San Diego resident Zita Oubre, 49, went to the same high school as George Floyd. She started a chant the crowd enthusiastically took up: “A change has got to come!”

Oubre is inspired seeing young people take up the protests for equality and police accountability. She said two changes that she believes could make a difference are limiting qualified immunity for officers and putting more focus black history in schools.

“We waited for society to do the right thing, in silence, and nothing happened,” Oubre said. “They took our quiet and silence for weakness and now this is us declaring with a bullhorn you’re not going to sweep us under the rug.”

Protesters also took to the street in other communities. More than 100 people turned out at Spreckels Park in Coronado for a Baby’s First Black Lives Matter Protest featuring activism story time, music, dancing and voices of black motherhood.

“We had a beautiful turnout,” said organizer Ellie Coburn. “We had the opportunity to listen to some incredible mama speakers speak on black motherhood and the found of SD Peaceful Protests speak on the importance of early race awareness.”

City News Service contributed to this report.