On June 7, in the city of Santee, the activist organization San Diego Unity planned a peaceful march from the YMCA on Riverwalk drive to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. Nearly 1,000 protesters showed up.

Residents from Santee expressed their concerns on Twitter about wanting to protest but scared to do so, organizer Jay Wyatt told Scriberr News. This drove the organization to plan a peaceful walk through the city.

“There does need to be some action in Santee, but it needs to be the proper way because that area has a lot of stigmas attached to it,” Wyatt said. “I know that the community wants to do better and can do better and can remove that stigma, and I know the community is looking for a lot of progressions.”

The meaning of this peace walk goes past the issue of police brutality, Wyatt explained. The march is meant to provide the people of Santee with a culture change or shock. 

“We know that there are people who are protesting against a system that has been set up against minorities and black people,” Wyatt said. “However, we’re going for more of a cultural change. We’re going there for more of a cultural shock, that’s why we are not calling it a protest. We’re calling it a peace march.”

Leaders as well as volunteers, first aid, and support teams were allocated different duties during the march. In the case of a riot, organizers had trained medics readily available. 

Francis Ryu, an organizer from San Diego Unity, formalized instructions to ensure the demonstrator’s safety. 

“We want to make sure that there is somewhat of a barrier in between the crowd also would be easier for them to access our medics or people who are supplying water or just volunteers or our peacekeepers, things like that,” Wyatt said. 

Jai Deguerio is a resident of Santee who joined the peaceful march on Sunday. 

“I live in a predominantly white community with people who are openly racist,” Deguerio told Scriberr News. 

Deguerio explained a recent incident of a man wearing Ku Klux Klan hood in a Vons grocery store in Santee, that made headlines in several local news outlets such as Times of San Diego. 

“However, seeing all of the people who came out yesterday, black, white, Mexican, and so many others, it was great!” Deguerio said. 

Rumors of counter-protesters

There had been concerns and allegations of counter-protesters arriving at the Santee march. 

After the march, there was a small altercation at a nearby Target with demonstrators and “East County Defenders,” shouting at one another, but it deescalated fairly quickly, Wyatt said. 

San Diego Unity previously spoke to law enforcement in Santee to alert them about the peace march that would be occurring in the city, and the Santee Police cooperatively shut down streets for the demonstrators to peacefully protest. 

The Santee Police Station expressed their gratitude for the peaceful march through Santee in a Tweet stating, “This afternoon, hundreds of people marched through the streets of

@CityofSantee to have their voices heard. This flower display left on a gate outside

@SDSOSantee says it all. We thank those who participated in the peaceful demonstrations.” 

The city of Santee as well acknowledged the peaceful marches on Twitter, stating, “The City of Santee thanks everyone who participated in the peaceful protests over the weekend. These demonstrations of unity, inclusiveness & tolerance is what we know Santee to be. Thank you to our residents & visitors who helped create a positive atmosphere. Do More, Due East.”

“There is a population of minorities and a population of white people in Santee who are wanting for some progress for wanting for more diversity, more acceptance,” Wyatt said. “So there’s a reason for us to be there, and we need to be there. To the people of Santee, we hear you and won’t stop after this peace March. We are looking to be there for the people of Santee in the long run.” 

Written ByMaydeen Merino

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