ENCINITAS, Calif. - A handful of protesters rallied outside Encinitas City Hall on Wednesday to demand the city restore civil liberties and end what they called the "police state."
The protest was led by Alex Fidel, whose Facebook page says he is running for mayor.
Fidel claims Encinitas and other cities get money from the Department of Homeland Security which they use to "beef up" police and fire departments.
"And it doesn't come for free. It comes with strings attached," said Fidel, who claims one of those strings is police militarization. "We don't want our children to grow up in a war zone on their streets."
Fidel used an incident from last year as an example. In that situation, a young man shot and injured two San Diego County Sheriff's deputies who were investigating a stolen car. Within minutes, the neighborhood filled with police from several surrounding agencies. The SWAT team was called in, and hours later, 22-year old Evan Kwik turned the gun on himself.
Fidel said there might be criminal neglect on the part of deputies for not calling in the psychiatric emergency response team, which is trained to deal with people with mental health issues.
"Unfortunately, they brought out the police state because they got new toys and they want to show them off, and if they use them that means they get a bigger budget next year," Fidel added.
Joining Fidel’s cause was Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. Sheehan said police and the government have gone too far and are eroding our freedoms.
"Take money away from that. Make communities that are prosperous and safe. That would go a long way to curing the problems," Sheehan told 10News.
Sheehan is running for California governor, as a member of the Peace and Freedom Party, which she says stands for a number of progressive issues.
After an "open mic" press conference, a handful of protesters went into City Hall and asked to speak with Encinitas City Council members. None were available.
Councilman Tony Kranz told 10News over the phone the protest was a "campaign stunt" aimed at launching Fidel's candidacy.
"I'm not buying the militarization of sheriff's deputies in Encinitas," Kranz said, adding that he is comfortable with the level of service Encinitas gets from the sheriff's department.
Kranz pointed out that with stretched budgets, federal grant money is an asset, especially homeland security money, since Encinitas sits on the ocean, not far from the border.