"Keep Families Together" rally in Carlsbad nearly gets cancelled

Posted at 3:19 PM, Jun 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-30 20:32:05-04

Carlsbad, Calif., (KGTV)-- Hundreds of demonstrators spent their Saturday mornings at Cannon Park, participating in the national "Keep Families Together" rally. However, this event was almost shut down before it even began, due to permitting issues with the city of Carlsbad.

10News met Anamarie Velasco at the unofficial rally.  She is a mother, a retired teacher, and an American citizen, originally from Chile. She said she is disheartened by the President’s border policies.

“I became a citizen, and I was proud to be an American. I am not proud right now. I am proud of seeing this [the rally]. This is what democracy looks like. Not what we have in Washington.” Velasco said. 

This rally in Carlsbad almost did not happen. Organizers with said they discussed with the City of Carlsbad staff, of their plan to organize a protest at Cannon Park, weeks prior. But the City never granted them an official "special events" permit. 

“They’re trying to stop us from basically speaking out," Velasco said.
When organizers arrived at the park Saturday morning, they saw several signs, zip tied to trees. It read:

City of Carlsbad California
Please be Advised:
Per CMC 8.17.200, any special event with 50 or more persons in a public area require a city permit.
Anyone who stages, presents or conducts such an event without a permit may be charged with a misdemeanor. 
Any participant in such an event who knows that a permit has not been granted may be charged with an infraction.
Additional charges with the CMC and State Penal Code may also apply to special event conduct. 

Velasco said she was ready to show civil disobedience. 
“Some people said they are willing to get arrested. and I think I am too.”

But organizers said instead, they chose to be creative.
“We made sure to be in groups of 49 or less, and if there were more than 49, we would disperse people," organizer, Joey Pearson said. 

So in smaller clumps of 49, the group continued to protest. Carlsbad Police said their priority was public safety. They monitored the unofficial gathering both on the ground and from above with a drone. In the end, organizers and police came to an agreement: As long as they respected the traffic laws, and did not obstruct the sidewalk, demonstrators would be able to protest.

For hours, protesters continued to chant, wave signs, and walk around the park.
“We have got to stand up, particularly in a community that is so close to the border," Pearson said. "We have got to stand up for our immigrants and our families.”

Velasco agreed. She said she would continue to raise her voice every weekend.
"I’m going to be here demonstrating all the way until November," Velasco said.

Carlsbad Police said the event turned out to be a peaceful demonstration with no arrests.