A remark by San Diego mayoral candidate Ed Harris in which he described San Diego police as “stormtroopers” in their response to the Trump protests has drawn the ire of the department’s union.
Harris, who is vying to replace Mayor Kevin Faulconer, made the comment during a mayoral debate televised on NBC 7 on Friday evening.
Asked his opinion of the police’s militant response during the May 27 protests in downtown San Diego during Donald Trump’s rally, Harris called it “not respectful.”
“It’s not respectful to march into Barrio Logan when people come out their houses when they hear the stormtroopers coming down the street,” Harris said.
San Diego police officers were seen in riot gear trying to keep separate Trump supporters and protesters; they eventually declared an “unlawful assembly” as the incident wore on and protesters refused to leave downtown.
The protesters were ultimately pushed to the Barrio Logan neighborhood south of downtown.
In response, Faulconer said he thought police did a “remarkable job” in keeping the protests from escalating.
“We treated protesters and supporters with respect,” the mayor said.
Later Friday evening, the San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA) took to Twitter to criticize Harris’ choice of words.
“We strongly encourage Ed Harris to retract his characterization of San Diego PD officers as ‘stormtroopers,’”the SDPOA tweeted.
Harris’ remarks also surprised several of the NBC 7 panelists, including Voice of San Diego Editor in Chief Scott Lewis:
In a follow-up statement, Harris said he wasn’t retracting his statements. He noted he wasn’t criticizing police, but the mayor’s office in the protest response.
During the debate, Harris blamed the promotion of inexperienced officers for how he thought things were handled.
He issued this statement on Sunday:
"As a public safety officer, I have the utmost respect for our men and women in the San Diego Police Department. My reference was solely aimed at the poor management decision to send armored police and vehicles into the Barrio Logan neighborhood a mile away from the protest."