"They just opened fire. There was no real set off for it, it just started happening," said Eric Applegarth as he walked from inside the county jail after his arrest while demonstrating against police brutality in downtown San Diego on Sunday, May 31.
Applegarth lifted his arm to reveal several red marks from rubber bullets shot by police during the protest. The 29-year-old says he used a sign to shield him from the rubber bullets. The sign, however, knocked into a police officer's gun, and Applegarth was thrown onto the ground and arrested for battery.
Exiting alongside Applegarth was Andy Coronado. Coronado was also arrested for failing to disperse. Coronado says he was kneeling in a prayer position when police approached the crowd.
"I think it's in police's nature to be overly aggressive and provocative, the whole police system in itself, that's why we're protesting," said Coronado.
According to San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit, the city's police force arrested 97 people during the May 31 demonstrations downtown. The charges included failure to disperse, battery on a police officer, burglary, vandalism, and unlawful assembly.
About a quarter of the arrestees were not from the San Diego area, the police chief said.
The demonstrations erupted throughout the county over the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody last week in Minneapolis. The largest in demonstrations occurred in La Mesa and near downtown San Diego. During the demonstrations, police fired flashbangs and discharged rubber pellets to disperse the crowd.
In a statement, the District Attorney's Office said that prosecutors will evaluate the cases. Those charged with misdemeanors will be arraigned in 120 days while those charged with felonies will be arraigned in 90 days.
In regards to Andy Coronado's arrest, he says he came to peacefully protest police brutality and questions the arrests of those who were doing the same.
"I think it's almost disrespectful to say someone tagged a building when people's lives are being lost. It's a false equivalence."
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer acknowledged that the majority of the protesters were there to gather peacefully and a few agitators were the ones causing chaos.
“95% of the demonstrators were peaceful last night in San Diego. The very small percentage of those who engaged in violence, they are doing a huge disservice to those that are out there peacefully demonstrating," the mayor said. "Every object that is thrown, every act of vandalism, every fight that erupts, it drowns out the legitimate voice of protesters."