La Mesa City Council calls for independent review of looting, riot response

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LA MESA, Calif. — The La Mesa City Council voted unanimously Tuesday in support of an independent review of how agencies responded to the rioting, looting and mass destruction two weekends ago.

It was the city’s first council meeting since May 30, when the city nearly went up in flames following the arrest of a young black man by a La Mesa police officer and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Thousands of people protested in response, which led to police declaring it an unlawful assembly.

Protests turned into rioting and looting, forcing law enforcement to deploy tear gas and use bean bag rounds. One of the protesters, a 59-year-old woman, was hit in the face and was released by the hospital Tuesday.

City councilmembers want a complete breakdown of how police, as well as city staff and the fire department, handled the situation. They want to know every action taken by responding agencies, whether those actions were reasonable and any recommendations for what the city can do in the future to better prepare.

Once councilmember suggested the city fully implement a police oversight committee.

“I want to apologize for anyone who has been physically and emotionally hurt during this time, said Dr. Akilah Weber. “Our residents, through it all, have remained thoughtful, kind, compassionate and really sticking together so we can all get through this.”

The city’s mayor, Mark Arapostathis, also spoke.

“As the mayor, I’m sorry for the incidents that occurred for the mistakes that were made. The hurt, the fear and the anger are crushing me because I feel that I’m part La Mesa — it’s part of my body and so when it’s damaged, I’m damaged.”

The police chief also joined the meeting, saying that the department will fully support and cooperate with the investigation if it’s done by a third party.

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