NewsLocal News


La Mesa officials release timeline that details how May 30-31 demonstrations turned into riots

la mesa union bank may 2020 protest riot
Posted at 9:30 AM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 14:55:11-04

LA MESA, Calif. (KGTV) -- La Mesa officials Tuesday released documentation which details the May 30-31 protests that evolved into riots, looting, and property destruction in the city.

City officials said they released their timeline as part of a “commitment to transparency.” According to officials, the timeline of events is “primarily based on law enforcement incident logs throughout the day.”

In the document, officials noted the La Mesa Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office were aware of rallies scheduled around the county for May 30 and began their preparations for potential protests on May 28.

A peaceful rally with about 200 protesters took place May 29 outside of La Mesa police headquarters, with a larger event planned for the following day.

Police worked with sheriff’s officials and the California Highway Patrol to oversee the May 30 protest.

READ: La Mesa protest turns violent with fires, looting

According to the timeline of events, a peaceful protest began in the city just after 2 p.m. About 90 minutes later, the city informed residents via a Nixle message and tweet of the protest’s impact near University Avenue and Baltimore Drive. Residents were urged to avoid the area.

By 3:30 p.m., protesters made their way onto Interstate 8, forcing the closure of eastbound traffic.

According to the city’s timeline, at around 4 p.m. “a group of protesters on the freeway began getting more aggressive. Some protesters began throwing bottles at officers stationed on the westbound side of the freeway. Officers watching a protester’s Instagram Live video heard her announce that they were going to raid Walmart at the Grossmont Center mall; a group jumped over the wall into the center near the Game Stop.”

Meanwhile, 1,000 people marched on Murray Drive and about 200 protesters gathered outside a LMPD station at the Civic Center.

Authorities began receiving numerous calls of protests “morphing into violence and destruction,” including a 911 caller who reported she “was struck in the face by a protester in a restaurant parking lot.”

City officials said an order to disperse was given to those gathering at the La Mesa police station just after 4:45 p.m. However, the city’s timeline noted, “In the next several minutes, a riot begins to take shape, with the U.S. flag in front of the police station set on fire, people throwing rocks at the building and at officers, and vandalism of the station. A police vehicle is attacked at the intersection of Baltimore and University.”

The police station’s front doors are reinforced by the LMPD Special Response Team. Responding sheriff’s deputies “are greeted with rocks and water bottles being thrown by rioters. One deputy is hit by a rock,” according to city officials’ timeline.

Through the rest of the evening, sheriff’s officials called on other law enforcement agencies to assist with the growing unrest. “Over the course of the event, approximately 250 officers from jurisdictions throughout the county are deployed to assist La Mesa. Jurisdictions sending aid include San Diego Sherriff’s Office (SDSO), Carlsbad Police, Chula Vista Police, the San Diego Community College District, SDSU Police, National City Police, Oceanside Police and San Diego Harbor Police.”

Between 5:09 p.m.-5:30 p.m., “multiple dispersal orders are given as people attempt to breach the walls of the station and throw bottles and rocks at officers.”

Officials said, “At approximately 5:30 p.m., officers attempt to use bullhorns and an armored vehicle (Bearcat) equipped with a public address system to issue dispersal orders. The Bearcat and other police vehicles are attacked and vandalized with officers inside. With rocks going into the broken Bearcat windows, officers are forced to deploy a pepperball to free the vehicle and officers.”

About 30 minutes later, tear gas is deployed and pepperballs are used “as rock-throwing and destruction continues unabated.”

As efforts to disperse the crowd continue, a fire station is attacked.

According to the city, dispersal orders were given at all protest locations around the city at around 6:40 p.m., with San Diego police’s ABLE helicopter helping to deliver the orders.

“With rioters not heeding the dispersal orders, officers continue to deploy gas and pepperballs in an attempt to disperse crowds. Individuals break into City Hall. There is an apparent arson attempt at the American Legion (VFW) hall and the U.S. flag in front is set on fire. Two squads are deployed from Command Post 2 to form arrest teams. When they arrive, their cars are attacked,” the city’s timeline said.

At around 7:35 p.m., ABLE reported that “City Hall appears to be on fire,” and officers were sent to the building to disperse crowds and secure the facility.

City officials said it was around 8:16 p.m. when “a beanbag round is fired from approximately 40 yards away toward a woman (later identified as Leslie Furcron) who was observed throwing an object an object at SDSO deputies. An officer reports that a female is down; within 30 seconds of the report, Ms. Furcron is carried away by members of the crowd, loaded into a vehicle and driven away. Officers report she may have been hit by a bean bag round.”

The timeline goes on to say, “Unrest continues as crowds continue to throw rocks at officers, break windows on police patrol cars and set a fire truck on fire. Multiple vehicles are engulfed in flames around 9 p.m. Over the next several hours, rioters loot businesses in the La Mesa Springs Shopping Center and the Grossmont Shopping Center. Chase and Union Banks are set on fire and engulfed in flames. Officers are deployed to these stores as available, but there are delays in organizing resources at Command Post 2. Three requests were made to CHP command to deploy CHP units staged on the eastbound I-8 ramp, but units did not respond. A request is made for all available resources in the county to respond.”

According to the city, the sheriff’s office inquired about possible National Guard help at around 11:30 p.m. However, they were told Guard troopers were deployed in Los Angeles.

At around 12 a.m., “SDSO assumes command of the incident. The City Council meets at 12:30 a.m. on May 31 in an emergency session as police and civic structures remain under attack.”

The city manager declares a curfew from 1:30 a.m.-7 a.m. as ABLE delivers an “unlawful assembly” message over the city. The public is also informed of the curfew via social media, the city said in its timeline.

Despite the issuance of a curfew, “rioting continues for an additional two hours,” the timeline stated.

By 6:30 a.m., numerous people began cleaning up what had been destroyed or vandalized during the unrest.

The city said a 7 p.m.-5:30 a.m. was declared for each night until June 8.