Last week, two San Diego police officers tackled and arrested two teenagers at Chicano Park. In response, a group of Barrio Logan residents and activists are calling for changes to policing in the neighborhood.
Here’s what you need to know.
Background: On Tuesday, Sept. 19, two teens were reportedly volunteering to scrape off old paint from benches and walls at Chicano Park in Barrio Logan. The teens were also reportedly removing fliers pasted around the neighborhood.
The San Diego Police Department has been mum on the arrest and the officers’ actions. But videos on social media show police officers explaining that they detained the teens because they were minors and the officers were investigating if they were truant.
This week: Aztec dancers dressed in decorative tunics and bight colored feathers lead dozens of protesters from Chicano Park to a police station in Logan Heights on Tuesday.
The group’s chants for justice and sounds of banging drums echoed through the neighborhood as the protest made its way to Central Division on Imperial Avenue.
I asked SDPD why the officers arrested the teens. And among other questions, I also asked exactly what time the officers began speaking to the boys.
The city of San Diego has a law against truancy. It’s known as “Daytime Loitering” which includes the time period between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. when teens can’t be in public without a guardian’s permission.
SDPD’s media department did not respond.
At a meeting at the police station this week, I asked Central Division police Capt. Jeffrey Peterson if he could address what happened at the park. He said no, because a complaint was filed and it’s now an ongoing personnel investigation.
Residents Make Demands
The police officers’ actions have angered many people in the neighborhood.
As I wrote last week, tensions were high at the Barrio Logan Planning Group meeting when a man demanded that a police officer leave. The group’s board chair asked the officer to leave, and he did.
The planning group holds its monthly meetings at the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center, which is a few feet from where the officers arrested the teens.
The man, Lucas Cruz, is the chair of the Chicano Park Steering Committee. Cruz did not respond to my email. The Chicano Park Steering Committee has been overseeing the park since the 1970s.
As I’ve written in the past, the steering committee is a private group that controls what happens at the historic park in a way that no other city-affiliated group does. The committee looks after the park and organizes events there.
The steering committee recently put out a list of 13 demands on its Instagram account for SDPD, Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, who represents the neighborhood.
Click here to read the full list. Among the demands are: no police at the park, police officers should not talk to kids without parent’s permission and for the city to reevaluate its truancy policy.
“The community of Logan Heights is in a crisis due to the actions of SDPD. Our community is harassed, antagonized, and disrespected everyday and enough is enough,” the post reads.
Councilwoman Moreno’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Mayor Todd Gloria’s office refused to comment at this time.
I’ll keep following the story.
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