Difference In Protest Enforcement Has Racial Justice Activists Looking For Answers
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Photo by Matthew Bowler
On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in front of the County Administration Center in San Diego and in a separate protest later that evening in Santee. Police presence there was sparse as the events ended peacefully.
But a similarly-sized protest in November in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was also conducted peacefully, was met with dozens of police who corralled the group.
To civil rights activist Shane Harris, the disparate enforcement for different causes is typical of law enforcement in San Diego and across the country.
“Agencies across the country, not even just in D.C. and federally, you see sort of this lax approach,” he told KPBS. “‘Because they’re white, because they don’t seem as dangerous, we’re not as concerned about them because of the color of their skin.’ We’ve seen this across the country and it’s showing itself in America’s capital.”
That has Harris questioning whether law enforcement reacts uniformly differently to these two groups.
“How these protestors, or protestors as they say they are, got to the second floor of the US House, breaking in windows, sitting in the same seat that Speaker Pelosi sits in and governs her meetings from,” Harris wondered. “How did that happen without strong oversight and enforcement planned just days before what we all knew would be dangerous?”
Harris called for investigations at the federal and county level into policing of protests.
In a statement, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, which was present at the protests Wednesday, told KPBS that it adjusts its response to protests based on intelligence it receives and that “when there are opposing sides present at the same event, there is a potential for confrontations.”
The Sheriff’s Department also told KPBS that often it keeps personnel nearby, in case a situation escalates.
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