San Diego Gathers in Support of Chicano Park
September 7, 2017
By Mario A. Cortez
Members of the community gathered at Chicano Park on Sunday, Sept. 3, in a show of support for Chicano Park and its murals amid fears of a right-wing rally being held on park grounds.
The gathering was prompted after rumors of a right wing protest began to circulate online as early as Wednesday, Aug. 31. Talk of far-right individuals coming to the park escalated to rumors of invaders defacing the park’s murals and holding their own rally on the premises.
Response from the community on social media was swift, with local residents voicing support for Barrio Logan’s central community space and denouncing white supremacy and white supremacist movements looking to cause damages to the park, which was designated as a national historic landmark in 2016.
Fear of confrontations lead the Chicano Park Steering Committee to put out a release on Saturday, Sept. 2 in an effort to call for attendees to not instigate any altercations, which might have caused damage to park property.
“We ask that all visitors show respect for the park and its many beautiful murals and sculptures… Do not come to the park with negative intentions or seeking to provoke any problems,” read the release.
Hundreds of local residents peacefully gathered at the park from early Sunday morning to demonstrate their support of the site’s significance and the self determination of the community to feel free from racist aggression.
The event counted with several leaders from faith and community organizations addressing the public from the Chicano Park kiosk.
“Many of us spoke from the stage about the importance of being united and that expressed that we have to work together because while we may not always collaborate on things we are always united against racism,” said Enrique Morones, founder and director of immigrant-rights organization Border Angels, to La Prensa San Diego. “We will continue to be united because this is our park and no one has the right to come from outside the community to touch the murals.”
“It’s great to see that everyone has come out to give a big ‘no’ to those that want to damage the park,” said a San Diego resident who did not wish to be identified. “You have families here, you have the old timers, you have the college kids, the punks, the brown berets, the skaters, all types of activists, and all types of people here; you can really feel the solidarity.”
Although there were no confrontations, at around 1 p.m. San Diego Police did escort out individuals who were identified as right wing activists and pundits before any violence was provoked.
Los Angeles-based blogger Arthur Shaper and Imperial Beach-based ‘patriot pundit’ Roger Ogden, along with three others, were surrounded by officers and removed from the area amid booing and shouts of “fuera” or “out” in Spanish.
Many residents stayed until the afternoon, with crowds beginning to dissipate at around 3 p.m.
Felicia Castillo of the Chicano Park Steering Committee pointed out that in the coming months there will be an effort to organize the involved community groups in order to have a cohesive front to act on.
“We want to make sure we stay on the same page and keep our united front,” said Castillo to La Prensa San Diego. “We have to stay on the same page and protect the surrounding community.”