June 2020 Articles

PRIDEFUL PROTEST THRIVES IN SPITE OF CLASH WITH BLACK LIVES MATTER SAN DIEGO CHAPTER

By Briana Gomez

Photo: Protesters show their support for the LGBTQ+ community wearing pride flags and holding signs inclusive of Black trans lives 

June 9, 2020 (San Diego) -- Thousands of protesters met in front of the San Diego City/County Building Saturday in spite of a very public social media post from Black Lives Matter’s San Diego chapter instructing protesters to attend its caravan event instead.

ONE-ON-ONE SPORTS TRAINING CAN RESUME LOCALLY

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 8, 2020 (San Diego) – The County of San Diego amended its public health order last week. Effective immediately, one-on-one sports lessons are allowed, as long as both the instructor and student comply with physical distancing and face covering requirements. Students and instructors should not share equipment.

RAMONA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2020 GRANTS AVAILABLE

East County News Service

June 8, 2020 (Ramona, CA) – Ramona Community Foundation (RCF), an affiliate of The San Diego Foundation, announced its annual call for grant applications. In its 9th year of grantmaking, RCF invites nonprofit organizations and agencies to submit proposals that demonstrate the power to build a more vibrant Ramona community.

The goal of the grant cycle is to support programs that make Ramona a great place to live, work and play. Desirable projects will inspire community pride and revitalization, and increase the quality of life of the broader community.

AMID PANDEMIC, ANZA BORREGO FOUNDATION ACQUIRES LANDS TO EXPAND STATE PARK

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Ursula Esser courtesy of Anza Borrego Foundation:  Base of Sheep Canyon

June 8, 2020 (Borrego Springs) – California’s largest state park is about to get even bigger. The Anza Borrego Foundation announced that it has closed escrow on several properties it plans to donate to the state to expand Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The land transfer will include 331 parcels totaling 17,598 acres over 25 years of land acquisitions.

“In response to COVID-19, there has been increased land activity. Landowners have called eager to sell, and a couple even wanted to donate their land to ABF,” a newsletter sent by the ABF to its members states.

Grant writing and land acquisition have continued even while the park has been closed off to the public due to the pandemic.

THOUSANDS MARCH FOR JUSTICE IN SANTEE ON SUNDAY

By Miriam Raftery and Paul Kruze

Photos, left and right, by Ryan Michael Darsey

Updated June 13, 2020 with additional quotes and photos.

June 8, 2020 (Santee) – Thousands of protesters held two peaceful marches and rallies Sunday in Santee to call for an end to racism and police violence.  The first kicked off near West Hills Park and proceeded to Santee Lakes. The second convened at the YMCA and marched to the Santee Sheriff’s station on Cuyamaca Street.

The first was organized by Santee residents Tasha Cassidy and Alana Ethridge, who told Patch.com that they wanted to promote “unity and diversity” to overcome “a stigma of Santee being racist.”

Far more marchers convened at the second march which began at the YMCA and ended outside the Sheriff’s station at Cuyamaca Street and Mission Gorge. Deputies stood guard, allowing marchers to proceed saetly down the nomrally busy street throught the shopping district. Many carried placards eading "Black Lives Matter," "I Can't Breathe" and other slogans.

At the Sheriff's station, speakers included 83-year-old Richard Lawrence, who marched in Selma, Alabama in 1965 with  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

KAISER HEALTHCARE WORKERS IN LA MESA HOLD KNEEL-DOWN FOR GEORGE FLOYD

By Miriam Raftery

June 8, 2020 (La Mesa) – Healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente in La Mesa held a kneel-down Friday, June 5th at 11:30 a.m. to honor the memory of George Floyd and support the national call for justice. The kneel-down has become a part of protests nationwide, held for eight and a half minutes, the length of time that a Minneapolis police offer knelt on Floyd’s neck before he died.

Floyd was suspected of passing a $20 counterfeit bill at a local store. The police officer who killed him has been charged with second degree murder. Several other officers who looked on but failed to intervene have also been charged with serious crimes.

His death, the latest in a string of brutal deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white policemen, has become a rallying cry across the U.S. and worldwide calling for reforms to end police brutality, racial profiling and unjustified killing by police officers.

These are the last words of George Floyd:

STANDING TOGETHER AGAINST RACISM IN SANTEE

By Henri Migala

Protesters outside Santee Town Center

June 6, 2020 (Santee) -- I received a call Saturday, June 6 advising that people protesting police brutality in the wake of the death of Mr. George Floyd were demonstrating in front of the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee in vehicles. The vehicle protest provided protection in the COVID-19 era; others stood on a street corner, most wearing masks.

HEAD-ON COLLISION IN RAMONA KILLS 21-YEAR-OLD WOMAN

East County News Service
 
June 7, 2020 (Ramona) – A 21-year-old San Diego woman died at the scene of a head-on collision today on Wildcat Canyon Road in Ramona.
 
The woman was driving a 2016 Ford Fusion south on Wildcat Canyon just south of Ketuull Uunyaa Way around 1:20 p.m. when she lost control. Her vehicle crossed the center line and struck a 2009 Ford F-150 pickup driven by a 61-year-old woman.

READER'S EDITORIAL: TIME TO LISTEN AND TO CHANGE RACIAL INJUSTICE IN OUR NATION AND OUR WORLD

By Andy Salmonsen

Photo, left, by Henri Migala:  George Floyd protest in La Mesa May 30 drew many white participants and people of all races marching in solidarity against racism and police violence

June 7, 2020 (Jamul, California) – This week, I spoke with a good friend and fellow musician.  He is truly a great person and a good man.  I could talk about his talent, his humor, and his personality, but that is not what this is about.  I asked if I could mention him in the post and he said yes.  But as I write this, I don’t want to mention his name because that’s not what this is about, and I don’t want to detract from what really matters.  I will call him Mr. C.   Mr. C Is black.  I asked him if I should reference black people or African American and he said black was ok.   Black lives matter.  I asked him that question because I am white, and I don’t know what it’s like to be black.  I have no idea.  72% of us in the United States have no idea what it is like to be anything other than white.

The conversation was about what I thought of the situation in our nation right now regarding George Floyd, and also why had I not posted anything about how I felt.  Mr. C is really feeling this, he is protesting and he if standing up for what he believes.  I listened to him as he told me how he was feeling and how a lot of his white friends seemed to say the same thing I did, “I don’t really post.”  Mr. C and I love each other like brothers, but I think he was wondering who I really was, who was I underneath in my heart and soul?  It brought me to tears hearing his voice and his pain.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS

June 6,  2020 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.

HEALTH

SCIENCE AND TECH

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

BORDER PATROL SEIZES MORE COUNTERFEIT AND UNAPPROVED COVID-19 PRODUCTS

Source: U..S. Customs and Border Patrol

June 6, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues to identify and seize a large number of counterfeit, unapproved or otherwise substandard COVID-19 products that threaten the health and safety of American consumers.

As of June 1, CBP had seized more than:

- 107,300 FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits in 301 incidents;

- 750,000 counterfeit face masks in 86 incidents;

- 2,500 EPA-prohibited anti-virus lanyards in 89 incidents; and

- 11,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets in 91 incidents.

LA MESA DELAYS TIMELINE ON WEEKEND PROTESTS, VANDALISM TILL NEXT WEEK

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis said Wednesday: “We were totally overwhelmed by the situation. We were not prepared for a peaceful protest to erupt into the level of civil unrest we witnessed as the evening fell.” Photo by Chris Stone

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) - Contrary to a recent pledge, La Mesa said Friday that a timeline of events related to last weekend’s protests and vandalism won’t be released until early next week.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: PHOTOGRAPHER HENRI MIGALA

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Photographer Henri Migala, in an interview with East County Magazine Radio Show editor Miriam Raftery aired on June 5, 2020, shares his experiences covering the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protest in La Mesa on May 30, 2020. 

After an afternoon of peaceful protests, a tense stand-off ensued outside the La Mesa Police Station, where Migala was struck with pepperballs fired by police while covering this breaking news story.

Click here to hear our interview.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: ARTISTS BRING BEAUTY BACK TO LA MESA AFTER RIOTS

 

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

 

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Artists from Art Beat San Diego have been volunteering this week to paint colorful murals in downtown La Mesa, beautifying plywood used to board of broken windows and protect undamaged businesses at the La Mesa Springs shopping center and along La Mesa Boulevard.

The action comes after the May 30 rioting, which led to vandalism of dozens of downtown businesses, looting of many, spot fires in several stores and burning down of three buidings (Chase Bank, Union Bank, and a historic building that housed the Randal Lamb engineering firm).

CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST AMAURIE JOHNSON AFTER BODY CAM VIDEO FAILS TO BACK LMPD OFFICER’S ACCOUNT

 

Incident sparked protest May 30 that ended in riot

By Kendra Sitton and Miriam Raftery

Photo: Amaurie Johnson, courtesy of Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Warning: videos contain strong language

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa Police Department has dropped charges against Amaurie Johnson, a black man whose controversial arrest was captured in a viral video last week.  Demostrations last Saturday at the LMPD headquarters protested the arrest of Johnson as well as the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

 La Mesa Chief of Police Walt Vasquez announced yesterday that "after a full review of all of the evidence in the criminal investigation" against Johnson, the police department will not seek prosecution "on any of the alleged misdemeanor charges."

The announcement follows release of body cam footage released June 3 showing the interactions between Johnson, 23, and La Mesa Police Officer Matt Dages near the Grossmont Trolley Station on Wednesday, May 27.  That footage does not support the officer’s version of events but does show Dages pushing Johnson and grabbing his shirt.

Johnson had been arrested for assaulting an officer and resisting arrest, which he denied.

REBUILD LA MESA: GO FUND ME ACCOUNT RAISES MORE THAN $160,000

 

Update June 18, 2020:  The fund has now raised over $196,000 and has begun distributing funds, but donations are still needed.

By Miriam Raftery

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) – After riots devastated downtown La Mesa on May 30th, El Cajon Deputy Mayor Phil Ortiz teamed up with the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Foundation and others to establish the La Mesa Business Disaster Recovery Fund.  The fund raised $50,000 in its first 13 hours last Sunday and has now surpassed $168,000 from more than 2,000 donors.

You can make a 100% tax deductible donation on GoFundMe by clicking here. 

The site states, “Our small businesses are devastated and many were already on the brink due to COVID19. La Mesa Village has been the heart of small business in the city and is a beautiful place for dining, events and memories.”

WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT NOW; FIRE WEATHER STARTING SUNDAY

By Miriam Raftery

June 5, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – A wind advisory is in effect for East County’s mountain areas and deserts through Sunday morning with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. Light showers are possible west of the mountains through Saturday afternoon. But a warming trend after that will bring elevated fire weather conditions Sunday through Tuesday, the National Weather Service predicts.

COUNTY READIES TO REOPEN WIDE RANGE OF ENTERTAINMENT VENUES, BUT URGES TESTING OF PROTESTORS AND PEOPLE WITH COVID SYMPTOMS

240 new cases and 6 more deaths reported

Source: County News Service

Photo: Wineries such as Hatfield Creek Winery in Ramona are among the local businesses that may be able to open starting June 12.

June 5, 2020 (San Diego) -- Starting June 9, beachgoers will be allowed to park in lots at local beaches, the County announced today, though coastal communities may opt for stricter rules. The County also received new guidance from the state on additional sectors that can reopen, with restrictions, as early as Friday, June 12 including:

  • Gyms
  • Hotels
  • Bars and wineries
  • Museums, galleries, zoos and aquariums
  • Professional sports without spectators
  • Day camps
  • Campgrounds and RV parks
  • Family entertainment (bowling alleys, batting cages, etc.)
  • Card rooms and racetracks
  • Music, film and television production

CONFRONTATIONS HEIGHTEN RACIAL TENSIONS IN SANTEE

 

Threats on social media prompt preparations for more potential clashes after violent confrontations earlier this week documented by ECM



By Miriam Raftery; ECM journalists and photographers Rebecca Jefferis Williamson, Henri Migala and Paul Kruze contributed to this report.

Photo, left by Henri Migala: Sheriff's officers cleared those on both sides of a contentious protest Monday night in Santee

 

June 5, 2020 (Santee) – Businesses in Santee including some major retailers and Wells Fargo Bank are boarded up or closed this afternoon, with a major law enforcement contingent in place after a post on social media called on marchers to “F*ck Klantee” tonight. Other posts suggest activist events may be planned over this weekend.

The posts follow several nights of conflicts and physical altercations between a group of white men who shouted racial taunts and  reportedly physically harmed several young people who claimed they were Black Lives Matter protesters, though the white men claimed they were detaining suspected looters.

WITNESS TO CHAOS

 

 

Story and photos by Jake Rose, photographer

June 5, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Afternoon protests against police violence in La Mesa on Saturday afternoon started off entirely peaceful. After the march on May 30, the crowd moved to the La Mesa Police Department parking lot, their final destination. The crowd advanced up the steps to the front door without incident and remained there chanting and cheering for about an hour, until someone in the crowd threw a small plastic water bottle towards the police guarding the building.

The police immediately responded with tear gas and concussion grenades and the crowd dispersed across the parking lot. After a few minutes, the crowd slowly reconvened in front of the police station and began chanting, until again, a water bottle was thrown and the chaos repeated itself.

LA MESA LEADERS ADDRESS UNREST, PROMISE REVIEW, END OF POLICE CHOKEHOLD AT PRESS CONFERENCE

Lack of answers stokes activists’ anger after violent arrest, injured woman at protest

By Kendra Sitton

Photo,left by Kendra Sitton: La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez

June 5, 1010 (La Mesa) – At a press conference held Wednesday, La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis, Chief of Police Walt Vasquez and other officials provided more information on the protests and riots that engulfed the city last Saturday. Officials also revealed more details about two recent controversial police incidents in La Mesa, although not enough to satisfy the citizens involved and their families.

AFTER BURNING, BANKS’ SERVICE IMPACTED BY BRANCH CLOSURES; UNION BANK PLEDGES TO REBUILD

 

By Kendra Sitton

Paul Kruze also contributed to this report

Photo, left by Jake Rose:  Chase bank collapses as arson fire engulfs downtown La Mesa branch

June 4, 2020 (La Mesa) -- “Crazy people burned down my bank!” a customer explained to the teller at a Chase branch on Grossmont Ave. early Monday, June 1.

Branches of Chase Bank and Union Bank were both burned to the ground after protests turned fiery late Saturday night. Despite riot police and other reinforcements from the San Diego Sheriff's department, La Mesa Police and Heartland Fire were overwhelmed as rioters overran the citywreaking havoc that slowed responses.

PHOTOGRAPHER HIT BY PEPPER SPRAY SHARES FRONT-LINE EXPERIENCE COVERING PROTEST IN LA MESA

 

Hear our interview with Henri Migala, aired on KNSJ radio: click here

By Henri Migala

June 4, 2020 (La Mesa) - My daughter, Rachel, a selfless and dedicated social justice advocate, told me about a demonstration in La Mesa Saturday afternoon in response to the death of George Floyd. I’ve been a responsible citizen for the past several months, self-quarantining at home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But like many around the world, I was outraged by the senseless death of Floyd under the knee of a Minnesota police officer.  

I wanted to support the minority community by documenting this historic occasion as a photographer and as a social scientist. So I grabbed my camera and headed for the protest, never imagining the chain of events that would soon engulf the community and put La Mesa into the national news spotlight.

Audio: 

FBI SEEKS INFORMATION ON PEOPLE INCITING VIOLENCE DURING PROTESTS AND COMMITTING VIOLENT ACTS AMID CIVIL UNREST

Witnesses are urged to send tips, photos, videos and surveillance footage to the FBI

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left, by Jake Rose:  Bystanders shoot video as Randall Lamb engineering firm's offices in a historical structure burns

June 4, 2020 (La Mesa) – The FBI is asking for the public’s help to identify and arrest violent instigators and those who committed crimes such as arson and looting in the wake of protests across the nation. This includes La Mesa, where violence erupted after Saturday’s protests including burning two banks, vehicles and a historic building as well as vandalism and looting at dozens of local businesses.

Many photos and videos showing crimes in progress during the chaos locally have been posted on social media sites, including some aired by local media organizations.  Many of those contain images that may provide evidence of one or multiple crimes, when compared to other sources of documentation such as surveillance footage taken of looters during the pillaging and burning of local stores and financial institutions.

“The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution is dual and simultaneous, not contradictory,” a press released issued by the national FBI in Washington D.C. states.  “Accordingly, we are committed to apprehending and charging violent instigators who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law.”

CALIFORNIA NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYED IN DOWNTOWN LA MESA

 

Conflicting Information About Action Causes Media Confusion

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson:  National Guard patrols La Mesa's downtown village

 

 

June 4, 2020 (La Mesa) -- At the request of San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore, the California National Guard has been deployed to downtown La Mesa to support law enforcement there as protests continue calling for racial justice and police reform.

Confusion and misinformation prevailed Wednesday night, however, when East County Magazine received conflicting information from various normally reliable sources as to whether or not the California National Guard had been deployed at the La Mesa City Center in the aftermath of the devastating destruction that took place on Monday night.

According to a Tweet on the San Diego Union Tribune’s Twitter account, the California National Guard public affairs officer originally told the newspaper’s reporter Alex Riggins that the National Guard had not been requested to deploy to La Mesa, but later called back to apologize that he had been incorrect in his statement.

LA MESA EXTENDS CURFEW FOR NEXT FIVE NIGHTS, SANTEE AND EL CAJON HAVE CURFEWS TONIGHT

By Miriam Raftery

June 3, 2020 (La Mesa) – Following rioting, looting and fires on Saturday in La Mesa and continued civil unrest across our region, the City of La Mesa has announced an extension of curfews each night from June 3 through June 8 from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

El Cajon and Santee have also extended curfews through tomorrow morning.

Below is each city’s announcement, since hours and details vary:

GUARD AT ILLEGAL POT SHOP KILLED IN SPRING VALLEY

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 3, 2020 (Spring Valley) – A man who reportedly worked as a security guard at an illegal marijuana dispensary was shot and killed last night in Spring Valley.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS REFINE CRITERIA THAT WOULD PROMPT RENEWED COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

By Katie Cadiao, County of San Diego Communications Office

June 3, 2020 (San Diego) -- Even as the County continues to allow additional activities within its health order, it is refining criteria that would prompt renewed restrictions.

A set of 13 triggers was shown to the Board of Supervisors during an update on the County’s COVID-19 response at their meeting Tuesday. The variety of data indicators reviewed would lead public health officials to pull back on the reopening of the local economy.

The modification of the health order would be triggered if any of the following criteria was met:

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