SAN DIEGO – At least three arrests were the result of dueling demonstrations Saturday at Chicano Park, where a group calling for the American flag to be displayed at the local landmark was met with hundreds of counter-protesters.
The San Diego Police Department said one of the arrests occurred after an officer was punched in the face.
A few dozen protesters, part of an event dubbed Patriot Picnic by the group Bordertown Patriots Inc., gathered at the park at about 9 a.m. to call for raising the American flag over the site beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan. The park features colorful murals depicting various elements of Mexican and Mexican-American culture.
The group was protesting the Chicano Park Flag-- which flies over Chicano Park along with the American Flag adjacent to the Chicano Park Veterans Memorial.
San Diego Police say many of the Bordertown Patriots traveled from cities outside San Diego for the Patriot Picnic and were intercepted early on in their march and disarmed of knives, stun guns, mace, and steel pointed flag poles.
Counter-protesters also showed up, and police estimated their numbers at about 700 people.
"We love the park, we love the murals. It's just that the Chicanos think that it's a park for them alone and it's not," said Jeane Solnordal Bordertown Patriot from Oakland California.
Barrio Logan resident David Ramina said he is disgusted with the Bordertown Patriots, who he says are racists hiding behind an American flag.
“They’re not trying to cultivate any positivity…they’re here to antagonize these people. And these people came here to stand up for their rights,” Ramina said. “People come here for a cultural experience all the time. They appreciate the murals, they appreciate the businesses that are in the area and they appreciate the people that live here like me, my wife, my children. But when you have people like that, these people don't know anybody around here and they're here to antagonize the neighborhood. That's what they're here for."
In September, the same group gathered at Chicano Park to protest the murals.
The SDPD had taken extra measures to prepare for confrontations at the event, with officers stationed throughout the area.
Police did not say which group the arrestees were affiliated with.
The event was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.