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In South L.A., Zimmerman protest is small, peaceful rally

George ZimmermanLos Angeles Police DepartmentEmmett Till

In the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Leimert Park, protesters were determined to have a peaceful rally on Tuesday night — and they appeared to be keeping it that way.

By 9 p.m., the atmosphere was entirely different than the end of Monday's protest, when some people left the main event and stomped on cars, stormed into a Wal-Mart and assaulted a TV reporter and cameraman.

On Tuesday night, demonstrators made it clear they arrived to hold a peaceful rally. And they sought to keep their members in line. When one protester tossed a crumpled flier that contained instructions on keeping the rally lawful back at a Los Angeles police officer, other demonstrators quickly pulled the protester away.

PHOTOS: George Zimmerman trial verdict protests

And there were far fewer people around:  As sun set in Leimert Park on Tuesday night, more than 80 protesters remained, clustered on the sidewalk along Crenshaw Blvd at the intersection of Vernon Avenue. A day earlier, hundreds roamed the area.

In another change from Monday, bodyguards Tuesday night were escorting TV reporters in Leimert Park, a day after KCBS/KCAL reporter Dave Bryan and cameraman Scott Torrens were assaulted during the violent Monday night protest. Torrens left the scene in an ambulance.

From the late afternoon onward, the protest had the semblance of a festival: music blasting out of radios, artists peddling t-shirts with "I am Trayvon" spray painted on them and many families with young children joining the demonstration.

Protesters waved signs that read “Honk for Trayvon”; others chanted, “No justice, no peace.”

An LAPD helicopter remained fixed overhead as the cars along Vernon Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard drove by honking.

Jeanie Jones, 33, works at a hair salon in Leimert Park and had noticed the police on horseback earlier today. She was unable to make it to prior protests but came tonight with her 6-month-old son. 

Jones said what motivates the protest along Crenshaw Boulevard "goes way deeper than what you see on the corner," linking the shooting death of Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, with ongoing racial profiling.

"The verdict was an outrage. It sends a message that it's OK to profile a kid and claim self-defense, when Trayvon was just defending himself," Jones said.

Jones has two other children and said the killing and subsequent trial and verdict struck such a chord because "we all know a Trayvon and we've all been profiled."

Warren Jones, 22, was on his way home to Glendale from Southwest Community College when he got off the bus in Leimert Park. Toting a binder and textbooks, Jones said he was here to support the community. 

"This event happened in Florida, yet still, when people heard the verdict, they were hurt as if Trayvon was their son," he said.

Jones added that the verdict yet again revealed the "history of injustice," mimicking the outcome of Emmett Till's murder more than 50 years ago. Jones, a black man, added that if the scenario was reversed, the outcome would be vastly different.

"If I shoot a 14 year old, and he's white, I'm getting the death penalty. I'm getting 25 to life. It's no question," he said. 

Interactive tweets from Times reporters:

LAPD is being more proactive in Leimert Plaza Park than last night. Another warning given to people to stay... https://t.co/EB1pYZevzt

— Ruben Vives (@LATvives) July 17, 2013

 

Here's the scene at Leimert Plaza Park. #TrayvonMartin #georgezimmermanverdict https://t.co/xRdX7e8MJW

— Ruben Vives (@LATvives) July 17, 2013


Young demonstrators at Leimert Plaza Park. I mean young. #trayvon #zimmeran https://t.co/lgRkZjFYnA

— Ruben Vives (@LATvives) July 17, 2013

 

Sign pinned to the back of Shantay Sheppard, 28. On protesting, she said: "if my generation doesn't, no one will" pic.twitter.com/EGtqzh3guJ

— Matt Hamilton (@MattHjourno) July 17, 2013

 

Scenes from the corner of Crenshaw and Vernon at 8:30 pm. "No justice, no peace," yelled as cars and buses ... https://t.co/wBrNrPFNFe

— Matt Hamilton (@MattHjourno) July 17, 2013

 

Tony B. Conscious calls Leimert Pk a "sacred space" - says all last night's mischief and mayhem was from pp... https://t.co/VqrVc9yI3i

— Matt Hamilton (@MattHjourno) July 17, 2013

ALSO:

Zimmerman protesters peacefully block traffic in downtown L.A.

Zimmerman protests: Man who allegedly stole CBS camera arrested

Zimmerman unlikely to face federal charges

 Twitter: @LATvives | @MattHJourno

ruben.vives@latimes.com

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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George ZimmermanLos Angeles Police DepartmentEmmett Till
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