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An LAPD officer takes a knee, to cheers of Hollywood protesters

A protest on Monday in West Hollywood drew hundreds of people.
LAPD Cmdr. Cory Palka asked protesters Monday in West Hollywood that if he took a knee, would they agree to make the protest peaceful. He heard screams of support, then dropped to his knee to more applause.
(Matt Hamilton / Los Angeles Times)

Sean Welch was a 12-year-old kid living in South Central the last time National Guard Humvees were rolling through the streets of Los Angeles.

“It’s almost a similar feeling,” he said of the 1992 riots. “They expect you to live in fear, but you show defiance because you know what’s wrong is wrong.”

“How are you going to keep finessing that it’s OK?” Welch asked, standing at the intersection of Laurel Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, where a growing group of peaceful protesters overflowed off the sidewalk in front of Greenblatt’s Deli and the Laugh Factory.

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He wore a homemade white T-shirt with the words “DYING BREED” scrawled across it in black and red Sharpie, just above George Floyd’s name, because he said that as a black man in America, that’s what he was.

“We a dying breed out here,” he said. “Cops have been killing us for years. What makes them believe it’s OK? People don’t even realize it until it has some massive effect like this,” he continued.

Hundreds of marchers converged both in Hollywood and West Hollywood, among the numerous protests on Monday.

One group marched west down Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of the tourist district. Another group was at a corner of Sunset Boulevard.

At the West Hollywood event, an LAPD officer was seen on video taking a knee in support of the demonstrators.

The officer took a megaphone and asked the crowd that if he took the knee, would they agree to make the protest peaceful. He heard screams of support, then got to his knee to more applause. He then asked everyone to stay safe and leave by the curfew time.

Behind him, a crew of men from a disaster recovery and property restoration company had set up a staging area along the edge of Laurel, as they worked to board up the exterior and doors of the furniture store on the corner.

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The crew had been busy this weekend — at this CB2 since 7 a.m., and boarding up parts of the Beverly Center, a Trader Joe’s and a MedMen marijuana dispensary in the days prior. Douglas, who declined to give his last name and was leading the small crew, said they were using 50 sheets of wood, and 100 two-by-fours to board up the home decor retailer, and that he had “no comment” on the protests.

“This is a moment in history,” Welch said. He didn’t think Floyd’s death was a tipping point, but rather a reminder of all the names that had been chanted before his.

“How long does the list have to go?” he asked, as the crowd around him chanted three words that anguished protesters have chanted for nearly six years, since the July 2014 death of Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.”


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