Community Meeting Held in Encanto Following Attacks on Police

Fourth District Councilmember Myrtle Cole hosted the meeting at the George L. Stevens Senior Center.

A community meeting about the recent violence against police officers following the police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota became heated Tuesday evening in Encanto.

The meeting was held at 6 p.m. in the George L. Stevens Senior Center on 570 S. 65th Street.

In a statement, Fourth Disctrict Councilmember Myrtle Cole said that as an "African American woman, a former police officer" she hopes to establish trust between communities in San Diego and law enforcement.

“In light of all the event that have happened, the loss of life, we just want to make sure that it does not happen in America’s Finest City. We don’t want that to happen here in San Diego,” she said.

Alton Sterling, 37, was shot and killed by police two weeks ago in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In St. Anthony, Minnesota, Philando Castile, another black man was shot and killed by a police officer.

The shootings sparked protests nationwide for the "Black Live Matter" movement, including San Diego.

Three police officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge Sunday. In Dallas, Texas, five officers were killed and seven others were injured by a sniper on July 7.

Cole said the effort to establish trust between law enforcement and communities in San Diego was personal.

But the meeting quickly became heated.

Gwenlyn Martin, a volunteer at the Encanto Recreation Center said she's been giving her grown son the same speech since he was a child.

"Don't turn up your music. If police stop you, be respectful. How many of you guys are giving your children that speech," Martin said.

Superior Court Judge Michael Washington also spoke, saying he's the only African American judge in the North County. He said he agreed with residents about keep ing police accountable but also wanted to hold community members accountable.

"If you hear an invitation to add a police officer to our police force, then apply or talk to brothers and sisters to apply," Washington said. "Because if we wait for them to solve our relations, it's not going to get get there." 

Cole says Tuesday's discussions will be one of the many this community will have, followed by one on Thursday.

On Monday, law enforcement officials from across San Diego County also held a conference asking members of the public for support in wake of the Dallas and Baton Rouge attacks.

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