The ACLU is now stepping forward to gather information on the heated protests that followed last Friday’s Donald Trump rally outside of the San Diego Convention Center.
The ACLU has submitted a public records request to the city of San Diego: “In response to the community’s objections about the San Diego Police Departments unprecedented show of force.”
Among the questions the group is asking:
- How many officers were used and what specific law enforcement agencies and special units, including plainclothes officers participated in responding to the protests?
- How much did it cost and who paid for it?
- How did SDPD prepare for the protest – what was the protocol and did it deviate from standard SDPD protocol in any way?
“It’s really about understanding what led to this really unprecedented use of militarized force in Barrio Logan, a residential neighborhood. And so, we want to get as much information to paint a complete picture,” said Christie Hill, senior policy strategist with the ACLU San Diego and Imperial county offices.
Even though members of at least one protest group said they would not stay in barricaded “free speech zones” set up by police, the ACLU also wants to know who decided to remove the barriers that separated the protesters.
“Why wasn’t the division maintained between the anti-Trump protesters and Trump supporters,” said Hill. “Why were they so close together at that point?”
On Tuesday, leaders of several community groups also characterized police action as a show of excessive force. But some members of the community also expressed support of the police action.
Police declared an unlawful assembly after protesters on both sides engaged in heated shouting matches. There were several fist fights. Some protesters threw plastic water bottles. Other protesters used pepper spray. Others held up vulgar signs and shouted profanity.
“There were children present that suffered the trauma of seeing their neighborhood under attack. And so I think depending on who you talk to, some members in the Barrio Logan community might not agree that no one was hurt that day."
The ACLU also is asking for the number of arrests, even though San Diego Police have already released the names and ages of the 33 people arrested.
In response to the ACLU’s action, the San Diego Police Department released this statement:
"We are proud of the professionalism, restraint and patience displayed by the officers and deputies involved during Mr. Trump's visit to San Diego. They provided a safe environment to allow for the freedom of speech. The Police Department’s decision to declare an unlawful assembly came as a result of violent behavior and unlawful acts within the crowd of protesters. As with all Public Records Act requests, we will provide the appropriate documentation once it becomes available. Most of the items, including overall cost, are in the process of being compiled. We’ve already made available the arrest log associated with the event.”
A spokesperson for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was not available for an interview, and deferred all comments to the police department.