La Mesa on Saturday prepared for a large social-justice protest, setting up a perimeter around the Civic Center that bars weapons as well as “any other item generally considered an ‘implement of riot.’”
Last Saturday, police with the help of 37 sheriff’s deputies saw only 20 protesters at an event that brought out perhaps five times as many “defenders,” some with hunting knives and at least one machete.
Police expect many more this time for a 3:30 p.m. rally.
So do members of Defend East County, a private group on Facebook.
Friday afternoon, group leader Justin Haskins encouraged members to show up by noon Saturday, take up parking spaces on the street, videotape arriving protesters and attempt to “shut it down before it even starts. That’s the goal.”
“Make sure we can identify them … back to their car, to their license plate. We’re going to have drones in the sky,” he told the 20,000-member group. “This is a large coordinated effort.”
The El Cajon resident, who goes by Justin N Bama on Facebook, said: “We have to defend our way of life and the things that we value.”
Haskins urged group members not to get into bickering fights with protesters, but to “smile and wave, kill them with kindness.”
“We are there to support law enforcement,” he said in the video, sweating outdoors and taking frequent drinks.
But he also noted frequent questions — a lot of people asking about guns.
“I keep saying the same thing: I believe the Second Amendment gives you a right to carry. You don’t need [Sheriff] Bill Gore or anyone else’s signature to do that. You have Thomas Jefferson’s,” Haskins said. “I’m not an attorney. I cannot give you legal advice. I would just tell you that you need to make your own decision on what you’re going to do. I will not encourage or discourage you either way.”
Haskins labeled the protesters terrorists who weren’t planning to peaceably assemble.
“Once this march is over, they’re going to try to disperse into the residential neighborhoods — what we’ve seen numerous times,” he said.
Flashing a middle finger, he said: “If you’re a BLM supporter or sympathizer, uh there you go.”
On Nixle, the text-alert system, the city of La Mesa said it instituted plans to “facilitate a peaceful event for all involved.”
“Members of the public planning to visit the downtown La Mesa area are advised they may experience traffic delays and businesses may be closed earlier than usual,” it said.
“We ask those participating in the protest to also respect the rights of others by not blocking roadways. This will also ensure clear pathways for ambulances, fire trucks and patrol cars responding to any emergencies.”
Officials said the La Mesa Police Department made “numerous attempts to communicate with organizers of the protest and march so we can work together to ensure a safe environment where their voices can be heard. Unfortunately, all attempts to contact the organizers have been unsuccessful.”
Two months after a first major San Diego protest devolved into a night of arson and looting, the city notice said the goal was a safe exercise of the right to peaceably assemble.
But “should those attending resort to committing acts of violence or other crimes, they will be subject to arrest and the event will be legally declared an unlawful assembly.”
“Anyone choosing to remain in the area will be subject to arrest per California Penal Code section 409. The violation is a misdemeanor,” it concluded.
“We stand with Portland,” said one meme. “Fist up, fight back for womxn of color.”
Said another: “We demand justice for our womxn of color. “Planned civil disobedience.”
In his video, Haskins said: “We need everybody to come out, … your brothers, their friends, their dads, everybody you can think of needs to come out tomorrow. The larger presence we have, the better chance we have of shutting this down.”