Peaceful protest prompts closure of I-5 in downtown San Diego

Protesters march Sunday onto Interstate 5 in San Diego.
A group protesting the death of George Floyd march on Interstate 5 in San Diego on Sunday afternoon.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Organizers in San Diego urged the group to remain peaceful as they demonstrated their anger at systemic racism and police killings of black people.

After a morning of chanting through the streets of downtown San Diego on Sunday, hundreds of demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd marched on Interstate 5, blocking traffic in both directions.

Organizers urged the group to remain peaceful as they demonstrated their anger at systemic racism and police killings of black people. The protest comes on the heels of another protest in La Mesa, Calif., on Saturday that turned riotous as night fell.

Sunday’s march began around 10 a.m. in front of the Hall of Justice on West Broadway. Half an hour later, enough people to fill a city block were in attendance.

“We have to let the cops know they work for us,” activist Abdur-Rahim Hameed told the crowd. “We have to hold them accountable. There’s times when we need them and times when we don’t, but we damn sure don’t need them with their knees on our necks.”


Chants echoed throughout the crowd with the names of George Floyd — who died last week in Minneapolis after a police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes — and other black victims of violence including Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed while jogging in a south Georgia neighborhood.

But there were also moments of silence.

At one point, those in the group, which stretched four city blocks, took a knee to remember black people who had died at the hands of police, including Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Taylor, 26, was killed in March when police forced their way into her Kentucky apartment.

One attendee said the march was more than just an opportunity to remember Floyd — it was a call for police across the country to change the way they interacted with black people. Protester Joshua Williams shared with demonstrators that he grew up fearing the police.

“Seeing all of you here, colors of every different background standing in solidarity, that’s what it’s all about,” Williams said.

San Diego officers were out in force in the area, lining streets and surrounding the downtown police headquarters. Around 12:15 p.m., demonstrators moved around a group of police officers at the E Street on-ramp to I-5 and then onto the freeway.

Several times during the demonstration, protesters knelt in front of police officers who were blocking their path, once while on the freeway under a bridge near the Imperial Avenue off-ramp.

“This is why we’re here and what we have the power to do,” one woman said, addressing the crowd.


Soon after, the crowd split into two groups, with one continuing to march toward the Coronado bridge. Traffic on the bridge was temporarily closed around 12:45 p.m..

By about 1 p.m., the protesters had moved back onto city streets, with several groups headed in different directions. As protesters headed back toward the Hall of Justice, many could be seen passing out snacks and water.

Kate Morrissey and Lyndsay Winkley write for the San Diego Untion-Tribune.