At least two people were arrested after tensions flared in a small San Diego suburb Thursday night as demonstrators gathered for a third night of protests over the shooting death of an unarmed black man.
Police said between 50 to 75 protesters blocked traffic at the intersection of Broadway and Mollison, yards from the parking lot where Alfred Olango was fatally shot by an El Cajon officer.
Frustrated motorists tried to drive through the crowd and some, angry over blocked traffic, got out of their car to confront protesters. The confrontation became heated and some protesters broke car windows and in one case pushing a man off his motorcycle, police said.
The exchange prompted police and sheriff's deputies in riot gear to move in closer to the protesters. Law enforcement officials ordered the crowd to disperse at approximately 8 p.m.
According to police, protesters began throwing water bottles and beers cans at officers and refused to leave. Officers on scene then deployed pepper-spray balls.
A 19-year-old man and a 28-year-old man were arrested for taking part in an unlawful assembly. Their names were not released.
The Thursday evening protests were a shift from activity during the day, when a few small groups were congregating near the Broadway Plaza Shopping Center where Olango was shot dead Tuesday afternoon.
A family member called police to help Olango as he was undergoing, what was described as an emotional breakdown, but shot him when he pulled out an electronic cigarette device and took a "shooting stance." He died later that evening.
On Wednesday large crowds marched through El Cajon streets, chanting "no justice, no peace," in mostly peaceful protests. In the evening, demonstrations became heated and several protesters on Wednesday night threw water bottles at a car, and a news photographer had his camera forcibly taken from him, police said.
Thursday afternoon, the site of a shooting had become a memorial filled with handwritten signs paying tribute to Olango and calling for justice.
In a statement, El Cajon police said they continue to support the community’s right to voice their opinions in a peaceful manner.
A group of religious leaders who met on Thursday called on the community to join together to create one peaceful voice.
“If we go and loot, if we go and tear neighborhoods, we’re in the same position they are,” said Pastor Russell Bowman of Righteous Living Ministries. “So we’re trying to gather around those emotions and calm the storm before it actually breaks out.”
Several protests have been planned for the weekend and a march is scheduled to take place at an area college next month. A demonstration led by local religious leaders will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown El Cajon at the Prescott Promenade.
A second rally on Saturday is planned for 3 p.m. at the San Diego Convention Center.
Next month, a third event, called a “March for Reparations,” is scheduled for Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. at San Diego City College.