A day of demonstrations following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in El Cajon earlier this week began Saturday with a peaceful gathering of clergy who called for justice and more answers.
About 200 people gathered in Prescott Promenade Park in downtown El Cajon for the hourlong rally before a much larger crowd took to the streets for a march.
Some in the ethnically mixed crowd carried pictures of Alfred Olango, a 38-year-old Uganda refugee who was fatally shot by an El Cajon police officer on Tuesday. Speakers at the morning rally questioned why police had their guns drawn after responding to a call about a man who appeared unstable.
On Friday, police released video that showed Olango taking a shooting stance while holding what later turned out to be an electronic cigarette before the officer opened fire. Demonstrations have been held each night since the shooting, with at least two men arrested Thursday night after some people in a crowd threw bottles and broke windows of passing vehicles.
On Saturday, following about a dozen faith leaders, Shane Harris of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network introduced Olango’s brother, Apollo.
Wearing a black suit and white fedora, Apollo Olango struggled to speak as he became overcome with emotion.
“I just want to say we’re thankful for all the support we have received, and we’ll forever be grateful,” he said. “Thank you for helping my brother’s name to never be forgotten.”
Harris said that Sharpton was aware of the situation in El Cajon and would be coming to the city at a later date.
“The family is not going to stop pursuing justice,” Harris said. “We have to make it very clear that what we believe happened to Alfredo Olango on that day was murder.”
Like other speakers, Harris questioned why police used lethal force when confronting Olango, and he called for reform in the justice system.
Harris said that with the death of Olango, an African immigrant, the world had taken notice.
“What happened to Alfred Olango shocked the world,” he said. “The world is watching San Diego County, and you will not get off this time.”
Harris also called for all protests to be peaceful. The organization Black & Blue United scheduled a march in downtown San Diego at 3 p.m. Saturday, beginning at the San Diego Central Police Station.
Warth writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.