La Mesa’s “Peaceful” Protest – “Why are we being left in the dark as the flames grow brighter?”

Eric Bartl Undesignated Leave a Comment

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Eric Homenick posted a criticism of La Mesa’s leadership and media coverage of the La Mesa riot Saturday in one of the La Mesa Happenings Facebook groups and asked, “Why are we being left in the dark as the flames grow brighter?”

I’ve noticed various media and politicians of both parties describing the events in La Mesa on May 30 as a peaceful group of daytime protesters who were replaced by a different group of rioters at night. 

How truthful is this? 

Are these separate groups of rioters so well organized that in every riot in every city across the country they seamlessly transition from the group of protesters in the exact same location and switch places as soon as the sun sets?

There weren’t two groups of people who visited La Mesa Saturday. There were hundreds. From 2 pm to 7 pm I saw a steady stream of people walking to join the assembly and online videos show others streaming in throughout the night. The protests and riots were both collections of individuals, not two distinct monolithic groups.

Of course there are people who weren’t at the protest and only come out at night to steal, kill and destroy. But that doesn’t say anything about the protest. Shouldn’t what happened at the protest determine how we characterize it? 

Mayor Arapostathis said the model of peaceful protest was followed. What is this model? Was it really followed?

Can we disassociate the hundreds of mainstream daytime protesters who surrounded the armored police vehicle in the police station parking lot, preventing it from protecting people whose lives might be in jeopardy, from the smaller group of dozens of protesters who then started throwing rocks at it? I assume nobody would call rock throwing peaceful.

If you or I restricted an innocent person’s freedom of movement in a parking lot (or on the street) wouldn’t we be guilty of the crime of false imprisonment? I’m sure police officers get the same protection if not more. If this crowd of protesters committed that crime I don’t see how we can call them peaceful.

I wonder how all the police officers who weren’t protected by an armored vehicle and had rocks injure them at the height of the protest feel about the mayor calling it peaceful. 

An elderly man was attacked by a group of violent protesters in broad daylight in the police station parking lot. A group of peaceful protesters can be credited with saving him from serious injury or death. It’s not an easy question to answer. If the protest is labeled violent, those individuals are unfairly maligned. 

Why do people feel the need to attribute either categorical label, peaceful or violent? I say leave out the labels and say what happened, whether good or bad.

And what about the stampede across a police barricade and blocking traffic on I-8? That was a majority of the protesters. Is that a peaceful act? Some media showed pictures of hundreds of protesters blocking the interstate and surrounding law enforcement officers and called it peaceful. 

Is it peaceful to play rap songs about killing cops or hold signs that say “F Pigs?” That hardly seems “free from disturbance.” Maybe the terms “non-violent” and “peaceful” should be distinguished. You can be non-violent and create quite a disturbance.

Many protesters are frustrated with the violence and mayhem that are clouding their message.. It seems they need to recognize the truth of the problem before they can fix it, whether that be changing their own tactics or managing or limiting the people who join them or if they cannot prevent the violence maybe they should cancel protests until the riots stop. Any honest observer has to recognize the riots are stemming from the protests.

A small group of protesters in Santee is taking a step in that direction. They have incorporated an anti-riot message with their anti-police brutality message.

By the way, It seems civic centers and especially police stations should reconsider surrounding their property with softball size rocks. Seems if they want to use rocks for landscaping they should either be too big to lift up or little pebbles.

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