Three hours before President Obama’s motorcade was scheduled to roll through La Jolla, protesters were shouting their slogans at passing motorists at the corner of Torrey Pines Road and Dunaway Drive.
The $10,000-a-seat Democratic Party fundraiser luncheon on May 8 was hosted by Qualcomm cofounder Irwin Jacobs at his ocean-view home in the 8600 block of Dunaway Drive.
By 9:00 a.m. there were about 30 protesters. By 10:00 a.m., the crowd had tripled and expanded to all four corners and the raised medians of the intersection. San Diego police officers arrived to advise that the only rule was protesters could not step foot in the street. Dunaway Drive was closed to through traffic shortly after.
Fifteen cars were illegally parked in a temporarily posted “No Parking/Tow Away” zone on Torrey Pines Road between La Jolla Village Drive and Dunaway Drive. A San Diego parking-enforcement officer, with tow trucks standing by, said it was unclear if the cars would be ticketed and towed. “It will be up to the Secret Service,” he said.
Protesters against TPP — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — were there to urge the president to call for congressional hearings before signing the ten-nation trade deal. Christina, from University City, said the pact would allow companies like Monsanto, GE, and Phillip Morris to go overseas and take away farmers’ land to build their plants, reportedly to the detriment of American jobs. “It would also extend drug companies’ patents for 30 years, meaning we will never have generic drugs,” she said.
“Impeach Obama” signs, along with megaphones, prevailed on the southwest corner of the intersection. I asked Rudi from La Mesa what specific crime the president has committed — a requirement for impeachment. She said, “He has not supported America. We have too many laws and restrictions.”
One protester said the president runs the country like a king, issuing too many executive orders. I pointed out that should their group be successful, Joe Biden would become president. Rudi said he would be better than Obama.
I asked Robin, from Upland, whom she would be voting for in 2016. She, along with several other Impeach Obama supporters, could not yet name a favorite candidate.
Darrick and his friends were they’re protesting on behalf of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. He said his Pratt & Whitney plant on Ruffin Road was closing. He and 700 of his coworkers will be out of jobs soon due to the company’s outsourcing the manufacture of jet and rocket engines in other counties.
The biggest group of protesters (which quickly grew to 200 feet long along the northwest corner) were opposed the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada, through the Midwest to Texas refineries. A recently released government study shows the proposed pipeline would have very little environmental impact or leave a carbon footprint, yet the president has continually opposed the Canadian link of the project. (In 2013, however, the president took credit for the Texas/Gulf Shore to Oklahoma Keystone pipeline link, which was reportedly already in the planning stages prior to his 2008 election.)
Several anti-Keystone protesters from the group SD350.org stated that the building of the pipeline would “tip the balance of the planet.” I asked protester Peg, “Do you mean the planet would die if the pipeline were built?” I received an emphatic “Yes.”
Charlie, from Escondido, said we should accelerate the expansion of renewable energy instead of building the pipeline and continuing our reliance on oil. He also claimed solar panels are now available for cars.
One industry that benefited from the president’s visit was dry-cleaners. The over 100 San Diego police and CHP officers present were wearing crisp and creased, fresh-out-of-the-plastic-bag uniforms for the presidential visit.
During my one hour of observation, it seemed the protesters received more one-finger salutes, rather than honking horns of approval, from passing motorists.
Perhaps the most observant person near the intersection was a homeowner named Julian, who lives in a corner house at the intersection. He said he hadn’t seen this much excitement since president Bill Clinton visited Jacobs years ago.
“It’s just another day in the nuthouse,” he said.