Chula Vista mayor and police kneel during protest
Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas (left) and members of the Chula Vista Police Department kneel in memory of George Floyd during a protest on Thursday. Courtsy OnScene.TV

Protesters gathered peacefully Thursday in Chula Vista, Oceanside and downtown San Diego for the sixth day of demonstrations throughout San Diego County to honor the memory of George Floyd and demand racial equity in the nation’s policing.

A Black Lives Matter protest started around 2 p.m. in Chula Vista. The city’s mayor, Mary Casillas Salas, and a group of uniformed officers were seen kneeling with the protesters at one point during the event.

In North County, a demonstration was being organized near Oceanside City Hall, while in San Diego, a youth-led group began assembling about 5 p.m. near San Diego Police Department headquarters in the 1400 block of Broadway.

After enough protesters — many wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus — had gathered to cover several blocks adjacent to the police station, the chanting, shouting and sign-carrying group began marching to the west on F Street.

To facilitate the rally, officers closed F Street between 14th Street and Sixth Avenue.

The demonstrators turned to the north on Sixth Avenue and continued on toward Balboa Park. Police also closed Sixth Avenue to vehicular traffic.

“Crowd is one of the biggest we’ve had but very peaceful,” the SDPD tweeted about 6 p.m.

A half-hour later, the department estimated that the group had grown to include about 2,000 participants while remaining orderly and nonviolent.

Late in the evening, police made one arrest after a person shined a laser at a helicopter that was monitoring the march route.

Flyers promoting that protest stated a list of demands from the group, including banning the use of “military grade weapons on unarmed protesters,” firing the La Mesa police officer who arrested 23-year-old Amaurie Johnson near the Grossmont Trolley station last week, and reforming police practices to prevent the deaths of detainees and others.

The San Diego protest is being led by “a group of black youths in San Diego,” according to the flyer, which reads, “Please come at your own risk, as demonstrated at previous protests, the police are not afraid to engage in hostile tactics, but please come only if you are planning to participate in peaceful congregation and protests. The organizers do not condone looting, fighting or setting fires. Bring signs, wear a mask and come prepared.”

Though protests in La Mesa and downtown San Diego last weekend started out peaceful before devolving into looting and rioting after dark, daily protests since Sunday have remained largely peaceful, with only minor acts of vandalism and minimal arrests noted by local law enforcement.

San Diego police said Thursday that Wednesday night’s protests yielded no arrests.

“We were at several locations throughout the day and all of the groups remained peaceful,” an SDPD tweet read Thursday morning. “Let’s continue working together San Diego!”

But authorities are not taking any chances. Around 200 members of the California National Guard have been deployed to the San Diego area, with about half of the guardsmen sent to La Mesa.

Updated at 12:30 p.m., Thursday, June 4, 2020

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.