ACLU asks for answers after dozens arrested for protesting polic - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

ACLU asks for answers after dozens arrested for protesting police shooting

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EL CAJON (CNS) - The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is urging the El Cajon Police Department to release information regarding the weekend arrests of a dozen people protesting the fatal police shooting of Alfred Olango.

David Loy, legal director for the local ACLU chapter, sent a letter to El Cajon police Chief Jeff Davis questioning the law enforcement response after video surfaced of Saturday night's demonstration near the downtown strip mall where Olango was mortally wounded four days earlier.

Critics contend the shooting of Olango, who had been brandishing an object that turned out to be an electronic smoking device, was unwarranted and racially motivated.

ACLU officials said in a statement they were troubled by reports of an "aggressive police response" during what appeared to be an otherwise peaceful demonstration, and about "potentially unlawful arrests."

On Saturday night, El Cajon police officers declared an unlawful assembly and ordered the crowd to disperse after a fight broke out and rumors spread that someone intended to come back with a gun. A dozen people were arrested after refusing to leave, police said.

An unlawful assembly was also declared last Thursday night after protesters threw glass bottles at the police. Officers used pepper balls to disperse the crowd during that demonstration.

Loy countered that Saturday's event, which the ACLU refers to as a vigil, did not appear to present the "clear and present danger of imminent violence" that would warrant a declaration of an unlawful assembly. He also questioned the law enforcement response, which included rows of officers and sheriff's deputies in riot gear.

"The ACLU calls on the City of El Cajon to explain why an apparently peaceful vigil warranted this level of confrontation, if any, which only deepens public distrust of law enforcement in the wake of Alfred Olango's tragic killing," Loy wrote in the letter dated Monday.

A copy of the letter was also sent to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, according to the ACLU.

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