1 arrested at La Mesa rally for women of color

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LA MESA (CNS) – At least one arrest was reported when about 300 demonstrators gathered Saturday at La Mesa City Hall to demand justice for women of color and the city set temporary restrictions in a two-block downtown zone to facilitate a peaceful event.

The event was met with counter-protesters, and verbal altercations ensued. At 7 p.m., La Mesa police reported on Facebook that some marchers were at the La Mesa Civic Center area while the majority of the group was at the corner of Date and Allison avenues.

At 8:30 p.m., police said about 80 protesters remained at Dale and Allison and a large group were at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building.

“Over the past hour, there were several more scattered verbal altercations between the two groups with no further arrests, police said. “Chief (Walt) Vasquez has been able to meet with organizers for the group that has been marching as well as the group at the VFW. Chief Vasquez passed along that the Police Department is here to facilitate a safe and peaceful event, and asked for everyone’s cooperation.

“Several physical altercations occurred between the groups as the march passed by the VFW,” police officials said. “At least one arrest has been made. No major injuries have been reported.”

The “We Demand Justice For Our Women Of Color” event was promoted as a way to seek justice for Breonna Taylor, killed in March by police in Louisville, Ky., and Vanessa Guillen, a soldier at Fort Hood, in Texas, who was killed by another soldier in April, according to social media statements.

City officials also announced a temporary executive order Saturday banning weapons, boards, spray paint and other items within the downtown zone. The order went into effect noon Saturday and will remain in effect until 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

The protected zone is an area bounded by University Avenue, Allison and Spring Street that includes the police department, city hall and library.

La Mesa experienced a riot May 30 when a peaceful protest over police use of force turned into violent acts, including arson fires to businesses and looting.

The protest was advertised on social media as scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. at police headquarters, but was changed to the La Mesa Branch Library on Allison, and eventually beginning at La Mesa City Hall, also located on Allison.

New fencing and concrete barriers were erected Saturday morning around police headquarters.

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