Days after three dozen people were arrested while protesting a Donald Trump rally in downtown San Diego, several community leaders are saying the law enforcement response was “unwarranted."
"Militarized police do not belong in America's Finest City," Christian Ramirez, Human Rights Director of Alliance San Diego said Monday.
“It’s unacceptable to have a police presence of that magnitude in a residential area,” Ramirez said referring to Barrio Logan.
San Diego Police arrested 35 people Friday after declaring an "unlawful assembly" that occurred after the Trump rally ended and protesters clashed with Trump supporters near the entrance to the Gaslamp.
Local law enforcement agencies provided officers wearing riot gear in light of violent protests days previously in Anaheim and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Officers carried batons and bags of tear gas.
Community activist Kiki Ochoa said his organization, Union del Barrio, left Chicano Park at 1 p.m. and marched to the Gaslamp with almost 1,000 people including older community members, children and babies in strollers.
“The police dressed up in militarized gear, paratrooper gear and felt the need to use what they wore,” Ochoa said.
The Americans for Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stood with those in Barrio Logan, saying they have never seen this kind of militaristic response from the police.
"Does it take 10 officers to trample on one person that is sitting down with his legs crossed, arms crossed," asked Norma Chavez-Peterson, Executive Director of ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. "Could it have been one officer?"
She urged members of the public to reach out to the ACLU with their personal experiences.
Around 4:30 p.m. Friday, several fights broke out in the crowd with protestors pushing and shoving. NBC 7 News crews witnessed several people suffering from injuries associated with pepper spray.
SDPD Chief Zimmerman said most of the crowd left the area within an hour after a dispersal order was given.
As of 6 p.m., protestors had blocked Harbor Drive between Downtown San Diego and Barrio Logan. Officers marched down Harbor Drive towards Barrio Logan where they arrested several holdouts.
In anticipation of the news conference, SDPD spokesperson Lt. Scott Wahl issued the following statement to NBC 7:
"We are proud of the professionalism, restraint and patience displayed by all of the involved officers and deputies during Mr. Trump's visit to San Diego. They provided a safe environment to allow for the freedom of speech. Our decision to declare an unlawful assembly came as a result of violent behavior and unlawful acts within the crowd of protestors. We are very pleased with the outcome of Friday's event.”