Protest erupts after Alfred Olango memorial taken down

A dispute over the dismantling of a memorial in El Cajon dedicated to Alfred Olango resulted in eight arrests Monday night.

The tribute was erected in a strip mall off Broadway near North Mollison Avenue where Olango, 38, was shot and killed by an El Cajon police officer. It featured a tent, chairs, barbecues, posters, photographs and candles.

The location was a landmark for those looking to grieve and a sort of home base for many who chose to protest in the wake of the Sept. 27 shooting. 

Everything was removed over the weekend. El Cajon police Lt. Rob Ransweiler said the property manager of the shopping center and individual owners had become frustrated, and said recurring demonstrations and the presence of protestors were hurting business. 

People who had been using the space were asked to vacate the property, Ransweiler said. He did not know who specifically made the request. Protesters removed the memorial soon afterward.

Rumbie Mubaiwa, who was at the location the night the memorial was taken down, said police informed her and others that the property owner had requested they leave. She said they were told that if they didn’t take down the memorial, it would be taken down for them. 

On Monday, two people showed up at the spot about 5 p.m. and became upset the memorial was gone, police said. 

By this time, the property owners had hired a security company to watch over the shopping center. Police said the two people visiting the space verbally assaulted a security guard, who then asked them to leave.

They refused, and used their cellphones to inform others of what was happening. As more people showed up, the two people were put under citizen’s arrest and the El Cajon Police Department was called. 

When El Cajon officers moved to take the two individuals into custody, others reportedly assaulted the officers. Police didn’t say how. 

Ransweiler said about the same time, three officers saw a man pull out a gun. Police said protesters saw it, too, and tackled the man who was holding it. He dropped the weapon and someone else left with it.

Mubaiwa, who was also at the site on Monday, said an altercation between protestors and police broke out when an officer called one woman a derogatory name and later threw her to the ground to arrest her. Several people nearby tried to pull her away from the officer and they were hit with batons, she said. 

An unlawful assembly was declared and everyone who refused to leave the area was arrested, Ransweiler said. They face charges that included trespassing, refusing to leave an unlawful assembly and delaying or obstructing a police officer. One person was arrested on a felony warrant for assault with a deadly weapon.

On Tuesday, Mubaiwa, 27, and Tia Loper, 37, stood on the sidewalk outside Los Panchos taco shop. A police car was parked where the memorial once stood. Nearby officers said they’d been instructed to keep protesters away. 

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