La Mesa

WELCOME, LA MESANS!

Our La Mesa section covers the communities of La Mesa and Mount Helix.  Click here to read some fascinating facts about La Mesa and Mt. Helix.  Click here for links to city services, activities, shopping, business groups, farmers’ market,  schools, library, hospital, service groups, theaters, transportation, utilities, weather and more in La Mesa.


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LA MESA FARMERS MARKET IS OPEN AGAIN

By Miriam Raftery

July 2, 2020 (La Mesa) – Now you can once again purchase farm-fresh produce directly from local farmers. The La Mesa Certified Farmer’s Market has reopened for in-person visitors on Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. The market is  located along La  Mesa Blvd. between Palm Ave. and 4th Street, but with some changes due to COVID-19.

The farmer’s market was briefly closed, then opened for pre-ordered curbside delivery only. Now the market is back open to the public, but with the following rules, provided by the La Mesa Village Association:


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FIRST ROUND OF RELIEF FUNDS DISTRIBUTED TO 27 LA MESA BUSINESSES DAMAGED DURING CIVIL UNREST

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Don Buxton, owner of Play It Again Sports, accepts La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund relief check. His store suffered looting, fire and smoke damage.

July 1, 2020 (La Mesa) – Relief checks of $5,000 each from the La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund were distributed to 27 business owners on Tuesday, in the first of two rounds of funding.  


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READER’S EDITORIAL: REFLECTIONS ON RECENT EVENTS AND CHALLENGES TO PRESERVE CULTURAL HISTORY IN LA MESA

By Jim Newland, President, La Mesa Historical Society

June 23, 2020 (La Mesa) - The past few weeks’ events and experiences, including those in our local community, can only remind us of our nation’s challenging history of discrimination, violence and racism.  This is a very personal history for many that sadly continues into the present. 


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A PASTOR BRINGS SPIRITUAL SUPPORT TO THOSE IN NEED DURING RIOTS

By Briana Gomez

 

Photo by Jake Rose: Pastor Ferguson in La Mesa, as police guard street while firefighters battle flames at the Randall Lamb Building

 

June 23, 2020 (La Mesa) -- After being sighted praying amid the La Mesa riots the night of May 30th, Pastor Travis Ferguson has found himself in unexpected limelight as a symbol of hope for La Mesa.


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MISSING LA MESA MAN FOUND IN SANTEE

 

Update 10 p.m.:  La Mesa Police confirms that Al Buki has been found safe in Santee and reunited with his family.

East County News Service

June 22, 2020 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa Police is asking for public help to locate Attila "Al" Buki, who has been missing since last night around 7 p.m., when he left his independent living residence in the 7900 block of Culowee Street.  He is on foot and does not have access to a vehicle.

Police report that according to a family member, Buki has cognitive delays, and suffers from dementia caused by multiple strokes that he has suffered in the past.

He frequents the area of the nearby La Mesa Springs shopping center (8011 University Avenue) but otherwise has no other expected local destinations.


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UNIONS HOLD RALLY ON JUNETEENTH IN LA MESA

Story, photos and videos by Henri Migala
 
June 20, 2020 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa was once again the location of demonstration in support for Black Lives Matter.  This time the event was sponsored by many Labor Unions, which make up the San Diego Imperial County Labor Council, and was promoted as the Labor for Black Lives Caravan. It was held on June 19th, a date  known as Juneteenth which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

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LESLIE FURCRON SAID SHE WAS ENTERING A “RIOT” AND CALLED TO “BURN” DOWN LA MESA POLICE STATION BEFORE SHE WAS SHOT WITH BEANBAG

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

June 20, 2020 (La Mesa) – The attorney for Leslie Furcron, the woman shot in the head with a beanbag projectile May 30 outside the La Mesa Police station, has characterized her as a “peaceful” protester. A police incident narration claims she threw an object at Sheriff’s officers before she was fired at from 40 yards and struck in the head with the beanbag. While it is unclear on her cell phone video whether she threw an object or not, what is clear is that she, or someone narrating the video taken on her cell phone, advocated burning down the police station while she was in the car driving to the station.


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SANTEE CARJACKING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

June 19, 2020 (Santee) – A suspect is in custody after reportedly threatening to kill a 77-year-old woman and her family, then forcing the victim out of her car and driving off with her purse and cell phone.  The carjacking occurred shortly before 1 p.m. today in the 9800 block of Mission Gorge Road in Santee.

Sheriff’s deputies and La Mesa Police officers found the suspect, Chris DiSalvo, 30, sitting in the stolen car in the 4600 block of Palm Drive in La Mesa. 

“Upon seeing law enforcement DiSalvo took off, but crashed into a tree,” said Sergeant Michael Tingley with the Sheriff’s Department.“He then ran into an apartment complex."


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: LA MESA LIONS CLUB DELIVERS MEALS TO CAREGIVERS

East County News Service 

June 19, 2020 (La Mesa) – Members of the La Mesa Lions Club delivered meals to caregivers at Sharp Grossmont Hospital last month in appreciation for their efforts.  Left to right, photo shows two nurses from an ICU unit on a COVID-19 floor, Lions Club Vice Presidents Joyce James and Mary Rynearson, Beth Morgante, CEO of Grossont Hospital Foundation and La Mesa Lions member David Shaw, Elbert Kim, La Mesa Lions Club President, and Cupid’s Caterers representatives.


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LA MESA TASK FORCE ADOPTS AGGRESSIVE SCHEDULE IN HOPES OF GETTING POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD ON BALLOT

By Kendra Sitton

Photo: Jack Shu has proposed a ballot measure to create a police oversight commission for La Mesa.

June 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- In a meeting Wednesday, June 17, the Citizen Oversight Task Force set a plan in motion that could culminate in a November ballot initiative to bring a strong police oversight commission to La Mesa.

After missing several meetings due to the coronavirus, the group resumed meeting in the wake of mass protests and riots over the La Mesa Police Department’s mistreatment of the Black community.


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HELP SOUGHT TO IDENTIFY THOSE WHO LOOTED PIERRE’S JEWELERS IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

June 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Dept. is asking for public help to identify suspects caught on surveillance video breaking into and looting Pierre’s Jewelers on La Mesa Blvd. the night of May 30th, when dozens of businesses were looted and others burned following protests.  


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SYCUAN SUPPORTS LA MESA BUSINESS COMMUNITY WITH $5,000 DONATION

East County News Service
 
Photo courtesy of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
 
June 16, 2020 (La Mesa) — The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has donated $5,000 to help La Mesa businesses impacted by civil unrest the night of May 30th.  

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FERN PLATT HALL LIVES A LIFE OF GOOD DEEDS

By Mimi Pollack, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Jeff and Fern (Platt) Hall with their dog Chico

June 16, 2020 (La Mesa) - Growing up in the last century, it was not always easy being outside of the box.  In most cultures and countries, one followed a certain path:  go to school, work an eight-hour job, get married, have kids, etc. For those of us who didn’t follow all or part of the path, we were mostly accepted, but with questions. For that reason, I have always admired humans–especially women--who lived their lives by their own rules and beliefs.  A good example of someone who has lived both a life of adventure and service is Fern Platt Hall. She is a good example of a kind, but no nonsense, adventurous spirit.


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LA MESA DISASTER RECOVERY FUND REGISTRATION PROCESS NOW OPEN FOR AFFECTED BUSINESSES

East County News Service

A convenient online registration process is now available for La Mesa businesses damaged during civil unrest overnight on Saturday, May 30, and Sunday, May 31 to receive money from the La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund.

The East County Economic Development Council (ECEDC) is supporting the effort initiated through the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and La Mesa Chamber of Commerce. It will receive and manage the applications on its website.

“We had one single objective at this stage of this process: making registration and documentation as easy and quick as possible,” said Jo-Marie Diamond, President and CEO of the East County Economic Development Council.  

Businesses can register through an online form on the East County Economic Development Council website. Applicants able to complete their registration by Friday, June 26 and have it verified will be part of the Phase I distribution.


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PEACEFUL UNITY RALLY ROARS INTO LA MESA

By Henri Migala

Rebecca Jefferis Williamson also contributed to this report.

Photo, left, by Henri Migala: La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez speaks with protesters

June 14, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Before you could see them, you could hear them.  With a rumble that made the air vibrate, over 215 motorcyclists from approximately 15 motorcycle clubs rolled into the parking lot across the street from the police station in La Mesa. The riders joined another 150 protesters who were waiting at the parking lot for what was billed as a “Unity Ride Meets Unity Protest”. 

This was the very site of the now infamous clash between La Mesa police and protesters that happened on Saturday, May 30 during the national protests over police violence prompted by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis officer now charged with murder.


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LA MESA SETTLED SUIT WITH HELIX HIGH STUDENT IN OFFICER USE OF FORCE INCIDENT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Student walk-out at Helix Charter High School in January 2018 

June 15, 2020 (La Mesa) – The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday that the City of La Mesa quietly signed an agreement back on Sept 5, 2019 to settle a lawsuit filed by a Helix Charter High School student over a use-of-force incident shown on a video that went viral.  


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LA MESA GIRDS FOR “UNITY PROTEST AND RIDE” SUNDAY, JUNE 14

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police Department has sent an alert out to inform the public of a protest planned tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the La Mesa Police Department.  The LMPD advisory indicates the protest is expected to be peaceful and that protesters free speech rights will be respected, but that mutual aid from law enforcement agencies across the county are prepared to respond to protect La Mesa if that situation changes.

According to a flyer posted on social media sites, the “Unity Protest” will welcome motorcyclists from clubs across the region in a “Unity Ride” starting in San Diego and ending at the LMPD station, where two weeks ago a protest against police violence that began peacefully ended in assaults tageting police and a barrage of nonlethal weapons fired at protesters, followed by a rampage of looting, vandalism, and the burning of buildings and vehicles.


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LA MESA BUSINESSES FILE DAMAGE CLAIMS AFTER RIOT; ATTORNEY HAS TIPS ON LOSS CLAIMS DUE TO RIOTING OR PANDEMIC

GoFundMe Site raises over $200,000 to help local businesses

By Mike Allen

Photos by Henri Magala

June 12, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Steve Clay first got wind that his family’s package mail business, The Postal Annex, was being looted from an app he has on his phone.


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MORE ARRESTS MADE FOR CRIMES DURING RIOTS IN LA MESA

 

Scroll down for images of more crimes commited during the May 31 La Mesa riot, including arsonists not yet apprehended

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: This image of looters circulated widely on social media.

June 12, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police yesterday announced new arrests related to the May 30 riot in La Mesa, the latest for looting stores at Grossmont Center and the La Mesa Springs shopping center. Though the riots occurred in the aftermath of a Black Lives Matter protest over police use of force, those arrested so far include white, Hispanic and black suspects.


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LA MESA COUNCIL VOTES FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF PROTEST AND RIOT RESPONSES; HEARS HEATED COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC

By Briana Gomez

Photo by Paul Kruze: Officers guarding City Hall, where the City Clerk's office was set afire during the riot  on May 30

The City of La Mesa held a heated livestream city council meeting Tuesday with council members socially distanced via zoom,  the first public meeting since the May 30 riots that followed protests for black lives.

The Council unanimously voted to have an outside investigator review police, fire department and other city agencies’ actions during the protest and rioting that ended with multiple businesses looted, vehicles burned, two banks and a historic building burned down.  

Council members reviewed their agenda before public comments, most of which criticized the La Mesa Police Department for its recent treatment of the black community, perceived mismanagement of what began as a peaceful protest, and for not preventing the city from burning down during riots that ensued.


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LA MESA POLICE SHOT LESLIE FURCRON FOR CRYING "MURDERERS," LAWYER SAYS

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

Photo:  Leslie Furcron, a 59-year-old grandmother who was injured during a protest in front of the La Mesa Police Department, thanked her hospital caregivers but said she is still very weak and will need nursing care. Photo by Chris Stone

June 11, 2020 (La Mesa) - Leslie Furcron spoke for three minutes outside La Mesa City Hall on Wednesday — her first public remarks since being shot in the face during a La Mesa police station protest. But her lawyer said she was wounded for being heard saying “Murderers.”


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EXCLUSIVE: ECM INTERVIEWS LA MESA MAYOR AND POLICE CHIEF ON PROTEST PREPARATIONS AND RIOT RESPONSES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Videography by Paul Kruze

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – Hours after the city of La Mesa released a timeline and incident narrative on the May 30-31 protest over police violence and the riot that ensued, ECM editor Miriam Raftery and contributing editor Paul Kruze conducted exclusive interviews with Mayor Mark Arapostathis and La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez yesterday at the La Mesa community center, seeking answers to questions on protest preparations and riot responses.


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CITY UNDER SIEGE: LA MESA RELEASES TIMELINE AND NARRATIVE ON NIGHT OF RIOT, VIOLENCE AND ARSON

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by Henri Migala:  Officers outside LMPD station vandalized with graffiti by late afternoon, shortly before rioting began.

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The city of La Mesa has released a timeline and incident narrative of the protest and subsequent riot in La Mesa May 30-31, which reveal chilling details of an increasingly violent siege waged against police and sheriff officers as well as City Hall and businesses across the city.  Despite reinforcements pre-staged, rioting swiftly grew out of control, starting from early reports of violence starting at 4 p.m. that later escalated into hurling of bottle bombs (Molotov cocktails) at police, breaking windows on police vehicles with officers inside and attacking an armored bearcat.  Looting commenced in multiple locatoins, rocks and bottles were hurled at officers, as rioters throughout the long night and early morning hours of mayhem ignited multiple vehicles, burned down two banks and a historic building,and ignited nuermous other locations.

Police defended themselves with non-lethal weapons including tear gas, pepperballs and beanbags, striking at least two people in the head. Multiple officers were also reported injured. It remains to be seen whether the looting and burning were done by protesters or outside groups that took advantage of what began as a peaceful protest and march against police violence earlier in the day, or perhaps a combination of both.


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DEBATE RAGES ONLINE OVER YELLOW-VESTED LA MESA CIVIL DEFENSE GROUP

 

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

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) - Friday afternoon, several dozen people met at a boarded-up corner on La Mesa Boulevard to discuss how they might help a fledgling La Mesa CIvil Defense group. 


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MAN CHARGED WITH HAVING MOLOTOV COCKTAIL EXPLOSIVES DURING RIOT IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Zachary Karas, arrested for possession of incendiary devices

Photo, right by Paul Kruze: Vons truck burning approximately one block from where Karas was arrested

June 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – The U.S. Attorneys Office has charged Zachary Alexander Karas, 28, of San Diego for possessing incendiary devices including Molotov cocktail explosive devices and fireworks In La Mesa during riots that began the night of May 30th.  Throughout that night and early in the building, multiple buildings and vehicles were set afire.

According to the complaint filed by U.S Assistant Attorney Andrew Haden, Karas and his girlfriend, Kali Braj Jonkuet, were sitting on the pavent at the corner of Allison Ave. and Spring St. in front of the trolley tracks. Officers ordered the crowd to disperse for an unlawful assembly and arrested Karas after he failed to leave. After his arrest, officers discovered that Karas possessed Molotov cocktails --two glass bottles with wicks that contained gasoline. Molotov cocktails are also known as bottle bombs or poor man’s grenades. Karas also had fireworks in his possession.

A special agent with the ATF inspected the Molotov cocktails and found them to be functioning incendiary devices.


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$10,000 REWARD OFFERED FOR INFO ON THEFTS FROM GUN SHOP DURING RIOTS IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a man who broke into Alex Imports Shop at 7389 University Ave. in La Mesa and stole nine long guns on May 30 around 11 p.m. The burglary occurred during the rioting and looting following protests last Saturday night over racial injustice and police brutality.

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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.


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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.


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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).


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