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.
Other patrol cars were parked nearby and a surveillance tower had been erected in the parking lot. Several visitors to the shopping center and employees were seen approaching the officers to give them hugs, or deliver drinks.
Mubaiwa, of El Cajon, said she still plans to come to the location, and will talk with officers about where she can legally be.
“If I’ve got to sit on the sidewalk with a sign by myself, I’ll be sitting there,” she said. “I said I was going to be here from day one and I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to let them silence me.”
The women said they and a core group of people who have been consistently protesting since the shooting are still seeking many of the same goals.
They want to see Officer Richard Gonsalves, who fatally shot Olango, terminated, arrested and indicted and see District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis out of office. They also want an independent investigation of the shooting.
“Everything we do is with that in mind,” said Loper, of El Cajon.