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

Reporter Sarah Hashim-Waris in The Times newsroom has details on Tuesday night's peaceful protest at Leimert Park in South Los Angeles, on what marked the fourth-consecutive night of protests in the city.
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.

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.

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