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California

Protesters gather outside Mayor Garcetti’s Hancock Park residence to protest health restrictions

Mayor Eric Garcetti, shown at City Hall last year, is subject of protests around stay-at-home orders stemming from the coronavirus outbreak.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

At least 100 protesters gathered Saturday outside the Hancock Park residence of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, with marchers calling for the economy to reopen and condemning the health orders enacted in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Los Angeles police Sgt. Zachary Wechsler said the crowd numbered between 100 to 200 people at Getty House, the city-owned mansion in Windsor Square that serves as the residence for L.A.'s mayors. No arrests were made, and the protest lasted about two hours, Wechsler said.

Officer Mike Chan, a spokesman for the L.A. Police Department, said demonstrators had dispersed by about 4:30 p.m. Images of the protest published online showed crowds waving American flags and carrying signs demanding an end to the shutdown.

Signs visible in the crowd said, “Back to work,” and “facts not fear” and “fear is the virus.” At least one protester carried a cardboard sheet with “Q” spray-painted in black, which appeared to reference QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory that centers on a supposed secret plot by an alleged “deep state” against President Trump and his supporters.

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The protests came one day after California took its first modest step toward reopening its economy, allowing
stores selling books, music, toys, flowers, sporting goods and clothing to reopen for curbside pickup only, unless barred by tougher local restrictions. Manufacturers and suppliers that provide goods for those businesses also were allowed to resume operations.

L.A. County beaches remain closed, but many trails were allowed to reopen Saturday.

Leaders in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area have said they plan to take a cautious approach to reopening because the coronavirus remains a significant public health threat. Los Angeles County remains the primary COVID-19 hot spot in California, with health officials on Saturday reporting at least 31,230 cases overall and a total of 1,515 deaths.

The mayoral residence in Windsor Square, a tony neighborhood in central L.A., has become a popular backdrop for political groups to stage protests during the pandemic. Housing activists held a rally as well as drive-by protests last month — honking their horns and shouting from windows — in their effort to secure a blanket moratorium on residential evictions.

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A South Los Angeles pastor was also arrested last month outside the residence on suspicion of felony stalking after appearing several days on the home’s block, where he said he was calling on Garcetti to help homeless people.

Garcetti, his wife Amy Wakeland and their daughter also obtained a temporary restraining order against Sherman Manning that requires the pastor to stay at least 100 yards away from them and their home. Wakeland said in a legal declaration that because of Manning’s behavior and criminal history, she was afraid of her daughter’s safety. Manning, whose convictions include forcible sodomy and oral copulation, has denied that he was trying to harass the family.

“My fixation is on the homeless,” he told The Times last month.

The pastor said that for several days he had been walking up and down the block outside the Windsor Square residence, calling for urgent action to house homeless people on skid row during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Meanwhile, in Orange County, where beaches were reopened this week, protesters gathered in Huntington Beach on Saturday to demonstrate against the stay-at-home orders that remain in effect there. Video footage posted to social media showed many waving American flags and holding signs calling on officials to fully reopen the economy.

Police estimated there were about 1,500 people. No issues were reported, and no arrests were made, said Angela Bennett, public information officer for the Huntington Beach Police Department.


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