SAN DIEGO - Community leaders Tuesday decried what they described as a decision by city leaders "to effectively put Barrio Logan under martial law" last week during a Donald Trump campaign rally at the Convention Center.
During a late-morning news conference in the bayside neighborhood, the group of activists voiced their complaints about the heavy paramilitary-style law enforcement presence at the Friday afternoon campaign event, during which 35 protesters were arrested, including city attorney candidate Bryan Pease.
"It is reprehensible that Mayor (Kevin) Faulconer and (police) Chief (Shelley) Zimmerman ordered riot police and armored vehicles to descend into Barrio Logan, a historic community with a rich tradition of advocating for civil (and) human rights and the self-determination of the Mexicano community," said Kiki Ochoa, a member of Union del Barrio, one of the organizations that led a contingent into downtown San Diego from Barrio Logan to protest the Republican presidential candidate's appearance.
"Such violent action was an irresponsible act of provocation that was only successful in driving a bigger wedge between the police department and our community," Ochoa said.
Police officials, for their part, maintain that the heavy enforcement presence was necessary to keep control during the event, during which some attendees hurled rocks and bottles.
Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, urged anyone who felt harassed or otherwise victimized by police conduct during the rally to have their stories documented with the American Civil Liberties Union.
"San Diegans demand that Mayor Faulconer and Chief Zimmerman account for their actions that created unnecessary tension and arrests in Barrio Logan," Rios said. "The use of small tanks and riot police against San Diego residents has no place in America's Finest City."
Ricardo Favela of Alliance San Diego said the area was turned into a militarized zone, threatening residents and scaring families.
"Law enforcement officials dressed in riot gear with armored vehicles behind them, marched in a wall of force that stretched the width of Harbor Drive, pushing a small number of protesters from downtown San Diego into the residential area of Barrio Logan, over a mile away," Favela said.
"Once in Barrio Logan, the community was surrounded by SDPD squad cars with lights flashing, corralling people in the neighborhood," he said. "The mayor's and chief's decision to effectively put Barrio Logan under martial law is irresponsible and violates the community's trust."