The San Diego Police Officers Association called Sunday for mayoral candidate Ed Harris to apologize for comments he made during a debate in which he referred to officers as “storm troopers” for their actions at a Donald Trump rally last month.
On a debate Friday on NBC San Diego, Harris was critical of the police department’s move into Barrio Logan after the protests, which had started at the San Diego Convention Center.
“It’s not responsible, it’s not respectful marching into Barrio Logan when people come out of their house because they hear the storm troopers coming down the street,” Harris said during the televised debate.
The Police Officers Association, which has endorsed incumbent Mayor Kevin Faulconer, voiced displeasure.
“This term villainizes our officers and belittles the sacrifices they make to keep the public safe,” the SDPOA said in a statement. “In addition, a mayoral candidate disparaging our officers will only make it more difficult to attract quality police officers who have a desire to serve their fellow citizens.”
“We ask that Mr. Harris apologize for his statement and urge all candidates to refrain from such irresponsible rhetoric in the future.”
Harris, a San Diego lifeguard and retired Marine, called a press conference Sunday to answer the police union.
“As a public safety officer, I have the utmost respect for our men and women in the San Diego Police Department,” he said. “My reference was solely aimed at the poor management decision to send armored police and vehicles into the Barrio Logan neighborhood — a mile away from the protest.”
“It is the mayor who owes an apology to the residents of the Barrio Logan neighborhood,” he added.
Some members of the Barrio Logan community held a news conference to complain about their treatment by police after the Convention Center rally, while others pointed to the police response as a model for the rest of the nation in handling large-scale protests.
“We believe our police department correctly followed standard procedures for an event like this and that our officers balanced the protesters rights of free speech and assembly with the protection of property and physical safety of community members,” the union statement said.
The rally for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Trump on May 27 was attended by thousands of supporters, with thousands of protesters assembled outside the venue.
Harris, a Democrat, is challenging the incumbent Faulconer in the Tuesday primary election.
City News Service contributed to this article.
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