La Mesa

La Mesa Reacts To Growing Tension

La Mesa has becoming a local hot spot for the escalating racial tensions being experienced across the United States.

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California National Guard troops rolled into La Mesa Wednesday night as an added layer of protection from violent agitators who may mix in with peaceful protesters during demonstrations planned this weekend.

Last weekend, looters and arsonists took the spotlight from peaceful protesters standing for justice in the killing of George Floyd, and against police brutality and racial inequality.

Tensions have been high in La Mesa since last week, when video surfaced on social media of a white La Mesa Police Department officer arresting a 23-year-old black man, Amaurie Johnson. Johnson was first approached for allegedly smoking marijuana in public, and following a confrontation with the officer he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. La Mesa officials released body camera video from the incident, which black community leaders said showed little to justify cause of Johnson's arrest. They also demanded further action be taken against the officer.

"Our demands are that they have an investigatory process…We want the officer terminated, but we don't only want him terminated, we want him charged," said local activist Tasha Williamson.

La Mesa city council member Dr. Akilah Weber says the city was not prepared for Saturday's protests getting out of hand.

"There was no reason why locally we would have thought that this would have turned into something where people were looting and burning and breaking things so we were somewhat caught off guard," she said.

Many activists say they also want answers about the LMPD officer fire a rubber bullet or bean bag round at a 59-year-old black woman who was taking part in the protest and struck her in the forehead.

La Mesa officials say they are investigating the incident. The woman has spent the last week recovering in the ICU.

Dr. Weber said Tuesday's City Council meeting will be devoted completely to the unrest and they hope to answer questions from the public.

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