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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Downtown San Diego Protests: Peaceful moments, tear gas deployed twice after items thrown at police

SDPD officers used tear gas twice and flash-bang grenades against protesters because of what they called escalating violence.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County officially declared a state of emergency Sunday in reaction to police protests nationwide, and several cities imposed a curfew for this evening.

Jeff Collins, a county spokesman, said the state of emergency was declared in part so the sheriff's department could impose a curfew for unincorporated areas. He said it would also allow the county to seek federal reimbursement if needed. After a day of protests, including a vigil in front of a county administration building, downtown San Diego "seems to be peaceful at this time," he said.

According to a news release, the curfew will be imposed at 8 p.m. in several unincorporated communities including Lakeside and Spring Valley.

According to the Sheriff's Department, all residents are urged to "stay home, indoors and off the streets." Violation of the curfew order is a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail, or both. It was unclear if anyone had been arrested for violating curfew orders.

Poway has also imposed a curfew beginning at 8 p.m. Law enforcement, fire, medical personnel and members of the media are exempt from curfew, as are those commuting "directly to and from work, seeking emergency care, fleeing dangerous circumstances or experiencing homelessness," according to the city.

Santee has also imposed an 8 p.m. curfew, CBS8 reported. According to its web site, the city is asking residents to "please stay home and stay safe" with their families unless they need "to travel to work, seek medical care or are experiencing an emergency situation."

The city of El Cajon today proclaimed a "dire local emergency" in the wake of protests, and also imposed a curfew that began at 7 p.m.

San Diego police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades against protesters on Sunday and issued an unlawful assembly order in the area of Broadway, downtown, due to escalating violence. Police made numerous arrests after officers were hit with rocks and water bottles.

The mostly peaceful march through downtown and onto a portion of Interstate 5 ostensibly to demonstrate against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis was winding down at the Hall of Justice, but some protesters refused to leave. About 1:40 p.m., the crowd was reportedly thinning out after several hours of marching, chanting and carrying signs.

The San Diego Police Department tweeted, "One group has made it back to the Hall of Justice safely. Large group at our headquarters has moved to the intersection as requested. Thank you all!!"

At 2 p.m., police tweeted, "100-200 protestors are throwing rocks and bottles at our officers at 300 Broadway. Let's remain calm." At 2:38 p.m., police tweeted, "Aggressive crowd at State/Broadway. Throwing objects at our officers."

At 3:19 p.m., police tweeted, "Unlawful assembly order being given in the area of Broadway. We are asking everyone to disperse immediately due tothe escalation of violence by the protesters."

Earlier on Sunday, several hundred protesters marched onto southbound Interstate 5 after walking through downtown streets. CHP officers stopped traffic on both the northbound and southbound I-5 downtown at 12:30 p.m.
 

The County of San Diego has proclaimed a state of emergency as of Sunday afternoon and requested for Gov. Gavin Newsom to also proclaim a state of emergency and take other actions to help San Diego. 

At 1:37 p.m., the crowd was reportedly thinning out after several hours of marching, chanting and carrying signs.

The San Diego Police Department said on Twitter, "One group has made it back to the Hall of Justice safely. Large group at our headquarters has moved to the intersection as requested. Thank you all!!"

Then at 2 p.m., the police said on Twitter, "100-200 protestors are throwing rocks and bottles at our officers at 300 Broadway. Let's remain calm."

And later, the police said, "Rocks and bottles have stopped. No force used by SDPD. Protestors left the area. Numerous groups walking in different parts of the downtown area. Motorists are advised to be careful and stay clear if possible to ensure everyone's safety."

At 2:38 p.m., police said, "Aggressive crowd at State/Broadway. Throwing objects at our officers."

Then at 3:19 p.m., police said: "Unlawful assembly order being given in the area of Broadway. We are asking everyone to disperse immediately due to the escalation of violence by the protesters."

Earlier on Sunday, several hundred protesters marched onto southbound Interstate 5 after walking through downtown streets.

CHP officers stopped traffic on both the northbound and southbound I-5 downtown at 12:30 p.m.

 Another group of protesters also lined the street blocking Logan Avenue at Cesar Chavez Parkway near Chicano Park.  

Coronado Bridge was closed in both directions.  All traffic closures were issued until further notice.

At one point, the crowd kneeled under a bridge as officers tried to stop the protesters from moving south before the Imperial Avenue exit. Officers tried to get the protesters to exit the freeway on Imperial Avenue. Organizers of the protest march tried to lead the crowd off the freeway, but some in the crowd refused to follow.

The protesters eventually exited the freeway and tried to cross the Coronado Bridge, but police stopped all vehicle traffic both ways and blocked protesters from getting on the bridge. The group then turned around and headed back downtown from Barrio Logan.

Earlier Sunday, protesters marched through downtown San Diego, starting at the Hall of Justice, and ending up at San Diego Police Department headquarters before they entered the I-5 freeway.

At around 11:30 a.m. near the San Diego Concourse, the crowd stopped at the corner of First Avenue and A Street to hold a moment of silence.

Most protesters were wearing facial coverings, many carrying signs. They took a knee together, with fists in the air.

At about 11:45 a.m. the crowd turned and began marching down A Street, where a group of San Diego police officers were blocking the street. Chants of "Hands up, don't shoot!" could be heard from some protesters.

Many of them kneeled in front of the police, chanting "George Floyd."

The protest march on downtown streets began at 10 a.m. with an estimated 100 people. As they marched toward Little Italy, the size of the crowd kept growing.

The march continued west on West Hawthorn Street toward North Harbor Drive along San Diego Bay. They then marched south on North Harbor Drive and ended up at the San Diego Concourse.

The size of the crowd was described by a reporter at the scene as being four city blocks long.

At 11:46 a.m., the San Diego Police Department said on Twitter: "We are assisting a group of several hundred community members (and) have their voices heard in downtown SD. We will always facilitate peaceful protests. Traffic in the area may be impacted."