Black Lives Matter activists charged in fracas at event

A judge denied a request by the Los Angeles city attorney's office for a protective order that would have prohibited two activists from coming within 50 feet of Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

The activists still face misdemeanor charges related to a fracas last week at a city recreation center in South Los Angeles.

Garcetti and Beck were meeting privately at the Mount Carmel Recreation Center with “financial backers” of the Summer Night Lights youth program Wednesday evening when Evan Bunch, 28, went into the room, Officer Jack Richter said.

Security tried to escort Bunch out, but he resisted, police said. A scuffle broke out between security and Bunch, and “one of the officers got scraped up,” Richter said.

Then Luz Maria Flores, 23, tried to pull Bunch away from the police, Richter said. She was arrested on suspicion of lynching, which Richter said means “trying to extricate someone from the police when the person is in custody.”

Bunch is charged with trespassing, battery on a police officer and three counts of resisting arrest, as well as causing an injury to the officer, according to the city attorney's office. Flores has been charged with three counts of resisting arrest and battery on a police officer.

They pleaded not guilty at a hearing Friday, and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Hanasono ordered them released without bail.

“I wish you had a picture of what this great injury is,” said their attorney, Nana Gyamfi. “It is not an injury. It's what people call a boo-boo. Like a scrape … between the man's shoulder and elbow, probably the size of a dime.”

She said that activists from Black Lives Matter have been asking for a meeting with Garcetti and been rebuffed, although not explicitly. Instead, when they try to speak to Garcetti or his aides — and are recognized — police block their access and ask them to leave. If they don't, Gyamfi said, they risk arrest.

The group contests the city's assertion that Garcetti was involved in a private meeting at the time Bunch sought to speak to him.

In addition to a meeting with Garcetti, Black Lives Matter is seeking Beck's dismissal, along with the firing and prosecution of the officers who fatally shot Ezell Ford.

Although Beck said the officers acted within LAPD policy in their shooting of Ford, the civilian Police Commission that oversees the department determined otherwise. Commissioners found that one officer was wrong to use deadly force but cleared the other in the fatal shooting. It is now up to Beck to decide what, if any, discipline to impose on the officers.

 

Times staff writer Veronica Rocha contributed to this report.

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