San Diego Joins National Protests Against Police Violence

by on December 16, 2014 · 3 comments

in Civil Rights

Protesters move through Balboa Park. (San Diego photos by Frank Gormlie)

Photo Gallery of Event

Last Saturday, December 13th, San Diego joined the national day of protests held nation-wide against police violence. The largest demonstrations were in New York City and Washington DC.

Three  hundred people gathered at the large fountain in Balboa Park during the late morning for a rally, die-in and march. A couple dozen curious tourists were nearby, snapping photos. It was a very mixed crowd, and as Doug Porter reports (below) some of the speakers were exceptionally passionate and persuasive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe various speakers did decry police shootings of Black men – including in San Diego, and hit on other themes such as he lack of justice, the systematic racism of the system, white privilege, the need to come together, to love one another, to meet at the Malcolm X Library as part of a coalition, how reforms are not good, to not just come to a rally but take the struggle home.

It was a good turnout. A lot of young people of different ethnicities, some veteran peace-niks, a bunch of older white guys with beards, some former Occupy activists,  organized Trotskyists, and a lot of good-hearted San Diegans tired of the wasting of Black lives.

We applaud the different groups who participated in organizing the protest. There was some dissension among organizers who had brought the event together with the mainly African-American speakers; one white person who harangued the crowd wasn’t supposed to even give a speech;  a woman roamed through the crowd calling it a cooptation of the Black movement and the event “oppressors”, while interrupting the mainly Black speakers. Yet, the crowd was  attentive, involved, angry at times, but peaceful, patient with itself as the rally tallied, but passionate.

At least 200 participated in the die-in at and around the Fountain.  It ended with chanting and the crowd marched off through Balboa Park, across the bridge and then continued into downtown.  “No justice, no peace! No racist police!”, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” were common chants. Once downtown, there was another die-in across trolley tracks.

Until the marchers reached 6th Avenue no one except a few dozen tourists and Park visitors had noticed them.  One of the organizers had mentioned that they liked Balboa Park because it was “safe”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut the demonstrations unleashed a lot of energy while moving through the park – and no one heard them. For this long-time organizer, I’ve always questioned the wisdom of holding protests in Balboa Park – too away from the people we ought to be reaching.

Yet, without them, without these demonstrators, Paradise on Saturday would have been just another shopping day.  Let’s keep it up, San Diego.

Here’s Doug Porter’s much more articulate post from Saturday in San Diego Free Press:

From Boston to San Diego, 12/13/14 Was A Day of Resistance

Balboa Park Rally

Balboa Park Rally

By Doug Porter

Thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday in cities all over the US. The mass media is telling people these protests are in response to recent grand jury decisions regarding the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers. It’s bigger than that.

They really ought to be saying lots of people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of racism in the US of A. They’re sick and tired of hearing excuses. They’re sick and tired of being treated like second class citizens. And most of all they’re sick and tired of injustice at the hands of a legal system that claims to be color blind.

Saturday was dubbed a day of resistance against rampant police brutality against people of color, especially young black men. The failure of the legal system to deliver even a semblance of justice in recent months served to awake strong feelings, emotions that normally get pushed down amid the daily madness of just trying to get along.

The biggest demonstrations were in New York and Washington DC.

Washington DC

Washington DC

From the Guardian:

In New York, thousands marched from Washington Square Park uptown, via 6th Avenue, before turning downtown to progress along Broadway and to NYPD headquarters at One Police Plaza.

Later, after darkness had fallen, protesters attempted to stop traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.

New York City

New York City

In Washington, throngs of protesters – black, white, young and old – wound their way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol on a chilly December day. Among them were around 400 protesters who came by bus from Ferguson, the site of Brown’s death in August and sizeable protests since.

Near the Capitol, the veteran civil rights campaigner Reverend Al Sharpton was joined onstage by relatives of men killed by law enforcement officers.

Those represented by family members included Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old shot who was dead by a white police officer in Ferguson in August; Garner, 43, who was killed in July after a police officer on Staten Island placed him in a banned chokehold; Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old shot dead by police in Cleveland in November; Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old shot dead in Brooklyn last month; Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old shot dead by a neighborhood watch leader in 2012 in Florida; and Amadou Diallo, who was shot 41 times by New York police officers in 1999.

Oakland: A list of unarmed black men killed by police in recent times

Oakland: A list of unarmed black men killed by police in recent times

The most militant demonstrations were in the Bay Area and and in Boston, where clashes with police took place. In Los Angeles there was a “die in” at Hollywood and Vine.

In San Diego, 300 people gathered around the fountain on the east end of Balboa Park to hear speeches. At midday they marched off towards downtown.

Given that UT-San Diego actually covered the demonstration, here’s a quote from their story:

Participants chanted “I can’t breathe” in unison and wore T-shirts that read, “Black lives matter.” At the corner of Fifth Avenue and C Street, dozens joined in a “die-in,” an 11-minute moment of silence as they lay across the trolley tracks.

“I don’t want to be complicit and part of the problem,” said participant Evan Apodaca, 30, an artist and filmmaker. “The problem is institutionalized racism, and I want to be part of the group of people that isn’t in denial of it.”

A 19 year old speaker named Infinite captivated the crowd

A 19 year old speaker named Infinite captivated the crowd

The march launched after noon from Balboa Park and wound its way through downtown. San Diego police followed the marchers and temporarily shut down roads. No one was arrested.

One thing that was obvious to me as a participant in San Diego and as an observer via social media– there’s a whole new generation of people becoming activists.

In Balboa Park the most passionate speaker was a 19 year old calling herself “Infinite”, associated with a group called Af3irm San Diego.

In Washington DC young activist were shocked to discover the “VIP” seating section set up by organizers working with Rev. Al Sharpton. In New York, members of the cast of Netflix series Orange Is The New Black marched with the crowd as a unit.

A die-in on the trolley tracks downtown. Photo via UAPTSD

A die-in on the trolley tracks downtown. Photo via UAPTSD

One more from New York….

REal Thugs

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr. Wendy Craig January 21, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Frank, it is unfortunate that you did not get all your facts straight for this article. I was the white woman who you say “harangued” the crowd. In fact, I was an invited speaker who was asked to present a solidarity statement about how white people should work in principled solidarity in this struggle. As always, there are ideological differences particularly between revolutionary and reform agendas. There is one person in particular who appears to be bent on slandering me (who was part of a last minute sponsorship of the event after the speaker slate was set), but to state in this article that I was not invited to speak needs to be corrected. I am a white organizer who works under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party; because I uphold high revolutionary standards as seriously as possible, I would never do a disservice to the African Liberation Movement by co-opting an event and speaking out of turn. Thank you for the opportunity to correct this misrepresentation of the facts.


Frank Gormlie January 21, 2015 at 9:52 pm

Thanks Wendy for presenting your views. It’s great that you’re working with African-Americans. I think it’s difficult for a white person to pick out the “correct” Black organization to work with, as once again, in a way, you as a white person are telling other whites directly and African-Americans indirectly who they should work with, which follows a familiar pattern centuries old of whites telling blacks who they should agree with.


Mitchell Sterling December 2, 2015 at 4:56 am

Thank you Frank, for the awesome coverage and photo documentation. The OB Rag, is among a small handful of righteous media, in this town, that I have come to depend upon for superb coverage of these important progressive events. Kudos on this awesome coverage and piece here today!


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