SDUT: San Diego council denounces federal intervention at peaceful local protests

August 6 – SDUT – David Garrick reports – San Diego city leaders took a symbolic stance Thursday against the possibility of federal law enforcement officers intervening in peaceful local protests — except if city officials request that help.

The City Council voted 6-2 in favor of a resolution denouncing “unlawful tactics” against protesters by federal officers and asserting the council’s right to protect the peace and preserve the well-being of San Diegans, without intervention.

Prompted by military-style action against protesters in Portland this summer, the resolution also directs City Attorney Mara Elliott to carefully monitor the actions of federal law enforcement in San Diego.

“Watching unidentifiable federal officers in military-style uniforms descend on cities like Portland and Washington, D.C., and violently engage with American residents has been deeply troubling,” Council President Georgette Gómez said. “San Diego must say loud and clear that this kind of heavy-handed, authoritarian behavior is not welcome here.”

Councilman Chris Ward said the resolution is important because the federal actions against protests have been more about inciting violence than quelling it.

“It was a disaster in Portland,” he said. “It was an overreaching federal government action to incite fear, create chaos and an attempt to provoke an excuse for more widespread violence by the federal government.”

Councilmembers Scott Sherman and Barbara Bry voted against the resolution. They said their opposition was not based on support for federal intervention, but on the resolution being unnecessary and purely symbolic.

“It really doesn’t accomplish much, other than making a statement,” said Sherman, noting that he always votes against measures of that kind.

“This resolution is not necessary, and I vote ‘no,’” Bry said. Councilman Chris Cate was absent.

Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana said she supports the resolution, but urged the council to also be vigilant of San Diego police officers who handle protests in the absence of federal help.

Saldana said a June 4 “abduction” of a woman by San Diego police during a peaceful protest has become the subject of litigation. The officers were in plain clothes or military-style uniforms and used an unmarked van.

Several other speakers at the council meeting expressed support for the resolution, including the Rev. Shane Harris of the People’s Alliance for Justice.

“We don’t need help from the federal government,” he said. “We’re able to deal with our own communities.”

Christian Ramirez, a labor leader and immigrant rights activist, also praised the council’s move.

“It was shameful to see border patrol agents, deployed far away from our southern border, cracking down on protesters,” he said. “This is a time for city government to stand up against this intrusion on our constitutional rights.”

The resolution also was supported by the San Diego Racial Justice Coalition, the Climate Action Campaign and the local chapter of the Truman National Security Project, which helped craft the resolution.

The resolution also expresses support for federal legislators who have attempted in recent weeks to hold federal law enforcement agencies accountable. A Truman project official praised Congressmen Scott Peters, Juan Vargas and Mike Levin for their efforts.

Gómez, the council president, said the city’s effort is particularly relevant based on a leaked June 5 memo from the Department of Homeland Security listing San Diego among 18 cities where deployment of federal law enforcement was a possibility.

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