Pushing and shoving took place between Defend East County members and protesters at an August march in La Mesa. Photo by Chris Stone

By Matt Jenkins

In the wake of insurrection at the nation’s Capitol, the reality of who engaged in these acts of domestic terrorism, and how they affect us at home, is something that must be addressed.

We know that local vigilante group Defend East County were posted up on the Capitol steps, less than 100 feet away from the doors that were breached in this insurrection. The group’s Justin Haskins was live-feeding as the MAGA Mob beat law enforcement with flag poles, hockey sticks, crutches and whatever else they had on them.

We know from NBC San Diego’s late night interview that local attorney and ringleader of La Mesa’s own yellow-vested “civil defense” group Scott McMillan was also in attendance. We’ve been informed that members of local law enforcement, and even members of neighboring city councils may have attended this act of treason.

All of this must be brought to light. Our communities need to know everyone who participated in this desecration of our democracy.

In La Mesa, we’ve been haunted by the members of these vigilante groups, who claim to be defending East County, or defending San Diego. Instead, they have only turned up the temperature of division within our communities to a level that makes us less safe.

They have counter-protested peaceful racial justice protests and turned them violent. They have attacked young members of our community with weapons, and it is clear, based on their engagement with this insurrection, that they have no intent of unity, or winding down, and in fact only accelerating.

In response, here in La Mesa we pulled our community together, we engaged them, educated them and encouraged them to speak out against these vigilante groups. The end result led to a successful redefining of our City Council, unseating the member of council who was working directly with these vigilantes.

Unfortunately, our neighbors in Santee did not achieve this same success. Dustin Trotter, an active member of the vigilante group Defend East County, was elected to the Santee City Council (by just 5 votes). His association and support of these racially divisive terror groups who participated in the insurrection is serious cause for alarm, and he should resign.

While our group’s mission is focused on transparency, accountability and justice within local governance in La Mesa, we recognize that we are not isolated. Nor do we wish to be.

We recognize that our neighbors in Santee and beyond are experiencing these same threats, so we are reaching out and requesting that our La Mesa city governance, and all San Diego county governance, stand in solidarity with the people of Santee who are being terrorized by these insurrectionist groups.

We ask that the entire community, county and even state denounce Defend East County, and any other groups or members of our governing body who participated in the insurrection on our Capitol as the domestic terrorists that they are.

Matt Jenkins is chair of La Mesa Activists for Good Governance.

Show comments