Pedro Rios said he was having dinner with his wife Friday night (May 27) when they heard police helicopters overhead and saw helmeted police with full-face shields, batons and shields, plus body armor and armored SWAT vehicles herding protesters south from downtown into Barrio Logan.
According to Rios, the hundreds of anti–Donald Trump protesters from the barrio had returned to the neighborhood hours earlier, after a loud and peaceful march to and from the convention center, where Trump spoke to supporters. Following his speech there was violence and at least three arrests outside the convention center.
"Why is Barrio Logan so disrespected that they decided to push these protesters into our neighborhood?" Rios said he thought at the time. "Our neighborhood deserves peace and respect like any other neighborhood."
On Tuesday (May 31), Rios, of the American Friends Service Committee, joined Christian Ramirez and the American Civil Liberties Union in calling for an explanation from the San Diego police and mayor Kevin Faulconer of why the police squeezed demonstrators out of downtown, down Harbor Drive, and to the Barrio Logan sign before making dozens of arrests.
Calls to the police for comment were not returned Tuesday afternoon.
"We understand there may have been a need to mobilize a large number of police officers in the Gaslamp," Ramirez said. "What is troubling is that the mayor felt the need to mobilize a large police presence a mile away, here in a residential neighborhood."
Most of the people who marched from Chicano Park had long since left the park, Ramirez said; he was still at the park with his son.
Kiki Ochoa of the Union del Barrio said he was at a debriefing session at 25th and Imperial. None of the protesters who started at Chicano Park had been arrested, Ochoa said, and all were accounted for.
Like the other organizers, Ochoa became aware of the police action via the sound of the police helicopter buzzing overhead, and then through images on television that showed cops in riot gear and driving armored trucks down Harbor Drive and to the west edge of the barrio. There, police arrested about three dozen people.
“Something went wrong this past Friday, so we stand here asking for an explanation," said Norma Chavez Peterson from the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties. "We want to make sure our community knows they should reach out to us so we can continue to document the accounts of witnesses."
(corrected 6/1, 12:15 p.m.)