Protesters And Law Enforcement Officers Clash In El Cajon
UPDATE: 2:30 p.m., Oct. 18, 2016
Eight people were arrested during Monday’s protests in El Cajon, according to police.
In a statement, El Cajon police said protesters angry at the removal of a memorial “became verbally assaultive” toward a security officer.
“While responding to the disturbance, at least three officers witnessed a single suspect brandish a hand gun,” the statement said. “Protesters also saw that subject draw the gun, and they tackled him. He dropped the gun and other protesters left the area with it.”
Law enforcement declared an unlawful assembly through a helicopter, police said, and a total of eight protesters who refused to leave were arrested and booked into San Diego County Jail.
Protesters and law enforcement officers clashed again in El Cajon after a makeshift memorial was removed from outside the strip mall where Alfred Olango was fatally shot during a confrontation with police, it was reported Tuesday.
Around 7:30 p.m. Monday, El Cajon police issued an advisory to motorists to avoid the vicinity of Broadway and North Mollison Avenue where the protest was taking place. Monday's demonstration and several others in the weeks prior were held in the commercial district a few blocks north of El Cajon Valley High School where Olango, a 38-year-old Ugandan immigrant, was shot Sept. 27.
Officers from several local law enforcement agencies, some in riot gear, were on the scene Monday. The demonstration was declared an unlawful assembly and protesters were told to either leave or be placed under arrest, according to 10News.
Earlier Monday, a dozen protesters who were arrested during a vigil for Olango on Oct. 1 and the local NAACP chapter filed a lawsuit against the city, the El Cajon Police Department, the sheriff's department and the county, claiming civil rights violations, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. That demonstration had also been deemed an unlawful assembly, as had one two days prior.
"When defendants issued the order to disperse, there was no valid legal basis for declaring the assembly to be unlawful," the lawsuit said. "The dispersal order was solely due to the inconvenience to police officers of monitoring a peaceful vigil at midnight."
San Diego NAACP President Andre Branch told CBS8 that protestors may disperse when they are satisfied that their message has been received.
"In this case, law enforcement was either enforcing an unwritten and illegal curfew or was simply tired of observing a peaceful assembly," Branch told CBS8. "Breaking up a peaceful vigil was entirely uncalled for and unconstitutional."
Olango's death sparked widespread and nearly immediate protests, during which some protesters alleged the police shooting was unwarranted and racially motivated.
Police officials have countered that Olango, who was black, was uncooperative, repeatedly refused to remove his hand from his pocket, assumed "what appeared to be a shooting stance" and pointed an object that turned out to be a vape inhaler at one of the officers.