Protestor Audry Rees is one of four animal activists with the grassroots Direct Action Everywhere organization arrested after chaining themselves in front of San Diego City Hall in October 2019. / Photo by John Gibbins, San Diego Union-Tribune

Within the space of just three days in late May and early June, San Diego police arrested at least 120 people during racial justice protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police.

More than 70 percent of those arrests were for unlawful assembly. Nearly all of them involved people under 40, and at least 70 percent were people of color, police records show.

But months later, not a single protester has actually been charged with a crime for violating unlawful assembly orders, and the odds they ever will are getting smaller, Brittany Cruz-Ferejan and Ashly McGlone report in a new story examining unlawful assembly arrests in San Diego.

If those arrested this summer were actually prosecuted, it would mark a dramatic uptick in such prosecutions. Only a handful of unlawful assembly cases have been prosecuted in San Diego County over the last decade.

Cruz-Ferejan and McGlone tracked down several of the people who were previously prosecuted, including one woman who was part of an animal rights protest and a man who was arrested for demonstrating at a Trump rally in 2016.

Two Balboa Park Groups Likely to Merge

Two major Balboa Park groups will likely be joining forces. The Balboa Park Conservancy and the Friends of Balboa Park are seriously discussing a merger. The two nonprofits have for years raised funds to support park projects and corralled volunteers. Now, leaders of the groups tell Lisa Halverstadt they believe they can have a bigger impact together during a pandemic that has hit park institutions hard. The groups expect to decide whether to move forward by early next year.

You can watch a mayoral forum co-sponsored by VOSD and the two nonprofits here

Federal Immigration Authorities Round Up Two Dozen San Diegans

California’s so-called sanctuary city and private prison laws are back in the spotlight. 

In the Sacramento Report, Maya Srikrishnan writes about an Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation that resulted in 128 arrests, 24 of which were in San Diego. While making the announcement, the acting secretary of Homeland Security took a swipe at a state law limiting the ways in which federal immigration authorities and local police can partner. 

The courts have upheld the California Values Act. 

A federal judge, Srikrishnan also reports, recently sided with the state on another law that bans private prisons and immigration detention facilities. It takes effect on Jan. 1. 

Forget Pumpkin Spice Lattes, It’s Political Mailer Season

On the podcast, the crew sifted through the flurry of political mailers in recent days and pulled out a few interesting ones in the San Diego mayor’s race. An independent expenditure group supporting Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s bid for mayor sent mailers to Democratic voters touting Bry as the Republicans’ candidate of choice, and to Republican voters touting Bry’s progressive bona fides. 

Bry was not a fan. She held a press conference about it and mentioned it in her campaign messaging to voters. 

They also walked through the neverending story known as 101 Ash St. and provided highlights from Politifest, our annual public affairs summit. 

Changes Ahead for the City Council

Five of the nine seats on the San Diego City Council will be decided next month, meaning we’ll get five new faces. Let the post-election election begin. 

City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe, who was elected in 2018, confirmed Friday that she wants to be the next Council president. If so, she’ll be responsible for setting the Council’s agenda and appointing her colleagues to various committees. 

“With the looming uncertainty around the pandemic, and race and equity being at the center of every conversation, we need leaders who we can count on,” she said in a statement. “Leaders that we can trust to give it to us straight. We need compassionate leadership.”

The next Council will also (maybe, hopefully?) get vacation rental regulations on the books. Councilwoman Jen Campbell is working on that one. 

In case you didn’t know: The Politics Report every week provides political junkies with spoon-fulls of injectable goodness. Sources with first-hand knowledge of the situation but unauthorized to speak publicly tell us that reading it is like that scene in “Pulp Fiction” when John Travolta’s character opens the suitcase with the 6-6-6 code and suddenly his face is bathed in gold. 

We’re modest, too. 

In Other News

  • We’ve got a pair of op-eds comin’ at ya. The president of YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County argues that the opponents of Measure E, which will raise the height limit in Midway, are engaged in fear-mongering. City Councilman Chris Cate and childcare technology CEO Alessandra Lezama argue that local governments can do more to help families struggling with online learning. 
  • The Union-Tribune reports that the city has sued its 101 Ash St. landlord and a trustee representing investors in the city’s lease with the aim of getting the court to confirm the city can’t be forced to pay rent when it can’t safely occupy the building. 
  • New state guidance now in effect in San Diego County allows private gatherings of up to three households, so long as everyone can maintain six feet of distance. (NBC San Diego)

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mischaracterized the group behind a pair of mailers about Barbara Bry. The group was an independent expenditure committee supporting Assemblyman Todd Gloria.

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