On September 27 2016, Alfred Olango was shot by El Cajon police. A few days of strong protest, not riots, followed.
A few comments on social media made by locals and non local alike, bystanders, and drivers regarding the protests have suggested that the whole city of El Cajon was in chaos. This is simply not true. The media placed fear into the community and capitalized on the “thuggish” stereotype in order to construct a false chaotic reality. This was so believed that business owners bordered up their windows because, as one man implied during a local KUSI report, as he nailed up plywood to his windows, “they’re going to riot and I want to protect my property.” No “riots” or “looting” occurred to these businesses nor did any protest gather around these business which were located at a different part of the city.
Before someone says “but people were attacking drivers” “there’s proof of injuries” I will note that there are always those who express anger in violent ways, regardless of “race” — the actions of those individuals do not reflect the reason for the protest.
Below is an account by a fellow Rhetoric and Writing student and friend who attended the protest. I felt it was important to share as many voices as I can of those who were there. Here is one, and her Point of View is very much valued.
• • •
I went to El Cajon to join the protest of the death of Alfred Olango
by Kate McKiernan
A day after Alfred Olango, an unarmed black man, was shot by El Cajon police, I went to El Cajon to join the protest of his death. Due to work and struggling with the heat, I could only be there from around 12:30 until 2:30. Still, I’m glad that I went and plan to go to other events.
Before I went, I took some precautions. I set up a lot of things on my phone: downloaded the ACLU app, set up automatic cloud upload for my photos, and shared my location with my husband. I spoke to a friend about what I needed to know, legally, about protesting. I thought about the precautions I was taking, and reminded myself of my privilege.
The police to protester ratio was very high, maybe 4 or 5:1. There was also a helicopter circling all day—which I’ve heard is *very* expensive. They spent a lot of time corralling protesters, blocking off different streets. The protesters wanted to get to the mall, and the police kept blocking our path. I heard later that the police had asked the mall to shut down anyway, so I don’t know why they cared about us getting there so much.
There were a lot of helpful people: people with pallets of water bottles handing them freely; people explaining they were ex-military or had protested before and could help in case of tear gas. I witnessed a tremendous amount of restraint and de-escalation within the group despite a lot of frustration and anger. Multiple times, I saw protesters pulling each other out of shouting matches with outside aggressors, reminding them that the group had more important things to do. I saw protesters encouraging others to give police a little bit of breathing room so they didn’t feel nervous.
We passed a school getting out. I saw a beautiful little black girl with a Rainbow Dash t-shirt; I paused to tell her I liked her shirt, something I always do when I see kids in My Little Pony clothes (usually, kids are with a parent, not a few friends, when this happens). She just looked back at me blank-faced. I heard the woman behind me say something to the girl, though I didn’t hear what. I worry that I scared her; I probably shouldn’t have said anything. I hope she’s okay.
I’m heartbroken that Alfred Olango was shot, and the more I read about the District Attorney, the more I worry that the officer will be one of the large majority who is not charged, even though the FBI is observing the investigation. Which makes protests like these even more important.
¡PSST! All Images Are Copyrighted 2016 to Kate McKiernan. All rights reserved. The Black Lion Journal has shared them with permission. Visit the submit page for information on how you too can be featured on TBL Journal.