SAN DIEGO — Two hundred members of the California Army National Guard were stationed around the county Thursday morning, in response to civil unrest in San Diego and across the nation.
The Guard was requested by San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, according to the department.
Gore requested that 100 members be deployed in La Mesa and 100 throughout the rest of the county, officials said. A large contingent arrived in La Mesa late Wednesday, and another group was stationed outside the county administration building downtown by about 8 a.m. Thursday.
The troops will work alongside law enforcement to provide security to critical infrastructures — public buildings, courthouses and power grids — during protests to prevent looting and arson, as well as thwart vandalism, property destruction and business break-ins, the sheriff’s department said in a tweet.
“We remain committed in protecting people’s right to peacefully protest. We also want to
prepare for any demonstrations escalating into riots,” Gore said in a statement Thursday.
“(Last weekend), deputies came to the aid of La Mesa Police, but we did not have enough resources to stop the vandals and thieves from targeting law enforcement and ravaging businesses.
“The crowd was more than we anticipated. We were outmanned. We’re not going to let that happen again.”
There have been no significant protests organized in La Mesa since last weekend
The sheriff said that Guard members cannot make arrests, but they can detain people until officers arrive. Primarily, though, he reiterated that they have been brought into the county to protect public infrastructure.
Sara Jacobs, one of two Democrats set for a runoff in the November election for California’s 53rd Congressional District, was critical of the move to bring in the Guard.
“San Diego is a proud military community, and we know just how important it is to only send our troops where they are absolutely needed,” Jacobs wrote in a statement.
“Calling in the National Guard to San Diego County is an unnecessary escalation of tensions. The protests throughout San Diego County, just like protests all across the country, have been overwhelmingly peaceful.”