Police Arrest Two Activists Filming Officers In Chicano Park
Max Rivlin-Nadler, 07/31/2019
View on KPBS Public Media
A night of protests over the treatment of people who film police
San Diego police officers arrested two activists who were filming them in Barrio Logan last Thursday, leading to a night of protests over the treatment of people who film police.
Georgina Ramirez Mercado, 35, began recording two police officers who were taking an unidentified person’s driver’s license after a traffic stop under a highway overpass in Chicano Park.
Within a few minutes Mercado, who was in the park with her three children, was being arrested for obstructing an investigation. Mercado's video, which has since been taken down from Facebook, shows she had stepped back away from the officers, but continued to film.
A few minutes later, the video shows her hiding from police officers in the park's women's bathroom, where officers then arrested her.
Mercado is part of a larger movement that frequently films police activity in an effort to draw attention to what they believe is disproportionate policing. Barrio Logan has been a focus of the groups work.
As Mercado was hiding in the women's restroom, she reached out to others who videotape the police in the neighborhood because she needed someone to watch her children while she was in police custody.
Eddie Alvarez, 22, answered the call. According to police, he was wearing a mask and refused to hand over his own identification to police, who were not willing to turn over the kids to him. Within a few minutes of arriving, four officers quickly wrestled Alvarez to the ground.
A second video posted live on Facebook shows an officer punching Alvarez several times once he was on the ground. Both Alvarez and Mercado were charged with resisting an officer. Alvarez was also charged with felony obstruction.
On Thursday night, community members protested the arrest of Mercado and Alvarez outside of the San Diego County Jail, claiming the two were targeted because they were filming the police.
SDPD said it will now conduct an internal investigation to determine if the force used against Alvarez was appropriate and whether internal policies were followed.
“Anytime force is used, we take it extremely seriously. We have initiated an internal investigation into the force that was used last night,” SDPD Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said in a statement to KPBS on Friday.
Under a new state law, the police have 60 days to make their investigation public.