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California

Vandalism during heated L.A. protest over George Floyd death sparks concern from police

Authorities are expressing concern over a large protest Wednesday evening in downtown Los Angeles that left two California Highway Patrol cars vandalized and one demonstrator hurt.

Protesters gathered to express outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee. The demonstrators marched through the streets of downtown L.A. without much incident, and at one point blocked the 101 Freeway.

But eventually the protest turned more violent. Two California Highway Patrol cars were vandalized during the confrontation, and one demonstrator was injured after falling off a CHP cruiser as it drove away. That protester received medical attention; the person’s condition was not released.

Later, anti-police graffiti was sprayed at LAPD headquarters.

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In a statement, the LAPD said: “We hear your anger & your pain. We will always facilitate freedom of speech. Period. All we ask is that protests are held in a safe & legal manner.”

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Wednesday night that he was also “troubled by the violence on the freeway.”

Earlier in the day, he issued a statement calling the video in the Floyd case disturbing and said it tarnished the badge.

“The actions I watched in the video were incredibly disturbing and go against the basic law enforcement principle of preservation of life,” he said.

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L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva responded to the downtown protest on Facebook: “Violence is unwarranted and takes away from the message. I urge all of us to protest peacefully for the sake of everyone’s public safety,” he said.

On Thursday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a tweet that Angelenos should “follow their conscience in response to the pain and senselessness of this horror,” but he cautioned that protests should remain peaceful.

“I will always believe in expressing ourselves powerfully, peacefully, and safely,” the mayor said on Twitter. “George Floyd was killed before our eyes — and we have every reason to be angry, to cry out for justice, to say never again.”

Jaime Carter, who demonstrated with a charred American flag, said he hoped the motorists forced to a standstill on the blocked freeway realized a traffic jam was “a lot less of an inconvenience than me losing my life, than me not living a life of dignity.”

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Carter, a student at Cal State L.A., said he came to protest not only the death of Floyd but of many black men and children who died an unjust death.

“It’s Emmett Till, it’s LaQuan McDonald,” he said. “It’s every one of them.”

Charlie Morales, who also took part in the freeway protest, said that a CHP cruiser drove by trying to scatter the demonstrators and that some demonstrators converged on the vehicle.

Morales, 27, said he hopes the “small inconvenience” to commuters leaving downtown has made them consider “a matter of life or death to black and brown people.”

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Police brutality happens “every week,” he said, “but nothing changes until you start interrupting, until you start putting it directly in the minds of people who aren’t affected by it.”

The Floyd case has gotten national attention and has sparked several protests.

The mayor of Minneapolis on Wednesday called for criminal charges to be filed against the white police officer seen on the video kneeling on Floyd’s during his arrest, even after Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and stopped moving.


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