When some protesters encroached close to the vandalized police station, police released a large number of projectiles at once in what Migala describes as. “shock and awe.” Police came down stairs and out onto the patio in front of their headquarters as “panicked people were running away,” he says. “The police made a line to form a perimeter around their building.”
Later at night, some engaged in looting and vandalism of businesses as well as burning vehicles, two banks and a historic building. But it is not yet known who committed those criminal acts. Black Lives Matter has denounced the looting and fires; some witnesses have said that vehicles arrived after the protest, carrying black-clad individuals some of whom wielded baseball bats and incendiary devices with them. These may have been outside agitators on the far left, far right, or criminal gangs that may not have been part of the original protest.
Though besieged officers may have had concerns over their safety amid an increasingly raucus protest and vandalism of their station, a video on social media aired by CBS showed Furcron sipping from a beverage can that by some accounts she then tossed. She reportedly was taking photos or video with her cell phone when she was struck between the eyes and knocked to the ground, blood streaming from the wound in her forehead in which a white projectile was embedded.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to cover Furcron’s her medical expenses. As of tonight, it has raised more than $100,000. Donations may be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/csgskf-love-and-support-for-leslie.
Rebecca Jefferis Williamson is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer who has covered a wide-variety of subjects ranging from civil protests, community news and features to health issues including Covid-19, PFAS toxins, and Newcastle disease. Besides being a part of the East County Magazine team, she has freelanced for the San Diego Community Newspaper Group, Local Web Media, the Chula Vista Star News, San Diego Family Magazine, Military Press, and a number of other newspapers.
Miriam Raftery, ECM Editor and host of ECM's radio show on KNSJ, has won more than 350 journalism awards for national and regional coverage. Her experience covering major protests, disasters and civil unrest includes the Alfred Olango police shooting in El Cajon anti-war marches in Washington D.C. during the Iraq War, protests over lack of federal resources after Hurricane Katrina, demonstrations by Iraqi-Americans in El Cajon calling on the U.S. to protect Iraqi Chaldean Christians from ISIS terrorists, and two of California's worst wildfires -- the 2003 Cedar Fire and 2007 firestorms in San Diego County.
East County Magazine thanks the Facebook Journalism Project for support through its COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program to help sustain reporting on vulnerable local populations and rural communities. Learn more at #FacebookJournalismProject.
You can donate to support our local journalism efforts during the pandemic at https://www.EastCountyMedia.org/donate.
How other large protests have been ended peacefully
I have covered several other major protests in Washington D.C. and downtown San Diego in the past. In those rallies, once an unlawful assembly was announced, and people were told to leave or be arrested, police then began to arrest people who stayed and engaged in civil disobedience. They would zip tie the wrists of those arrested and in some cases had rented busses to hold them all.
As soon as arrests would begin, many people would leave to avoid arrest. Those who were arrested were detained a few hours, then fined a small amount and released. In DC they gave them all pizza and water on the bus. In San Diego, the Sheriff once brought in rented charter and as I recall, even some school busses to hold everyone.
Nobody turned violent and no one got hurt.
By contrast in La Mesa, a Sheriff's helicoper repeatedly warned that anyone who did not leave the station after an unlawful assembly was declared would be arrested. But so far all the witnesses we've talked with say that after those warnings, instead of arresting people still there, the officer unleased a massive volley of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, bean bags and who knows what else.
I can't help but wonder how differently this might have ended, perhaps with nobody suffering injuries, if the police had simply arrested a few people right away after the unlawful assembly was delared, instead of shooting projectile into a crowd of people protesting against police violence.