Huge, peaceful protests spread across L.A. and end in more arrests
(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)
In a dramatic display of outrage over police brutality and the death of George Floyd, thousands converged across Southern California for peaceful protests that began in the morning and continued into the night.
Marchers streamed through Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home.
A citywide curfew that began at 6 p.m. Tuesday is in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday. By 7:30 p.m., police were beginning to arrest downtown protesters who refused to leave.
In Larchmont at around 8:30 p.m., 40 or so people entered an apartment complex on the 400 block of Van Ness Avenue and went to the roof in order to avoid arrest. The complex was surrounded by helicopters and police ordering the presumed demonstrators to get down.
Helicopter footage showed the demonstrators laying down on the roof, forming the letters BLM
— Black Lives Matter — with their bodies.
Around the same time in Koreatown, police detained more than 40 people near West 8th Street & South Crenshaw Boulevard. The protesters chanted “peaceful protest” intermittently and for the most part, calmly complied with police as they were cuffed with plastic bands and escorted to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department bus.
The effort to keep people at home comes after the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Division made more arrests Monday than on any single day in history in response to protests that devolved into a series of looting incidents, mostly in Van Nuys and Hollywood.
Officers took at least 585 people into custody Monday. Most arrests were for curfew violations, but officers detained 20 people on suspicion of looting and impounded 50 vehicles, a law enforcement source told The Times on Tuesday.
Authorities arrested about 2,500 people from Friday to Tuesday morning after a mix of peaceful protests and property destruction rocked downtown, the Fairfax district, Van Nuys and Hollywood, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.
“Each day has seen the continuation of peaceful protests, but we have seen instances of burglaries and looting of businesses in various parts of the city,” Moore said. “For the first time in decades, every sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department is working. Days off have been canceled.”
Booking records reviewed by The Times show the vast majority of those arrested in L.A. County on looting, vandalism and burglary charges are county residents, seeming to refute perceptions that “outside agitators” were fueling unrest.
Even still, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia blamed looting and nearly 100 small fires in his city on organized criminals unaffiliated with peaceful protests.
“It’s pretty clear, given the type of activity and how organized the activity was, there is a strategy going city to city and doing this criminal work,” Garcia said this week. The damage to small business owners, he said, was unacceptable.
Speaking Tuesday evening, Garcetti said he has directed LAPD to minimize their use of rubber bullets during interactions with peaceful protesters.
“I think that we’ve seen less of any of those tactics, and I hope that we can see the most minimal, if not zero, of those tactics,” said Garcetti, who earlier in the day took a knee with protesters outside City Hall.
Garcetti took the extreme step of asking for the National Guard to be brought to Los Angeles, evoking for many in this city the bloody memories of the 1992 riots sparked after the police officers’ acquittal in the beating of Rodney King.
Garcetti said that about 1,000 guardsmen were on the streets as of Tuesday night.
Earlier in the evening, more than 1,000 people gathered outside Garcetti’s residence in Windsor Square, chanting “defund police!” as an LAPD helicopter circled overhead. About half the crowd left as the clock struck 6 p.m.
To Whitney Peterson, 35, of Los Angeles, the chant was not a call for abolishing law enforcement but limiting it and steering resources elsewhere.
“When ... people are getting killed by police, and yet we have schools and lower-income communities struggling, it’s hard to swallow,” she said of public spending for police. “These communities are not being protected, and that needs to change.”
An independent autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family this week found he died of asphyxiation caused by neck and back compression after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee on the handcuffed man’s neck for several minutes.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street late Tuesday morning to express their dismay over recent and historic oppression. After a few minutes, the group began walking through the streets of Hollywood, where they approached a line of several dozen officers holding batons. The officers blocked the crowd’s advance.
“Let us walk,” the crowd yelled. Chants of “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace” echoed throughout.
Aijshia Moody, 30, was among the crowd, holding a cardboard sign that read, “Am I next?” Her brother is 14 years old and has often dealt with racial profiling in Pacoima where they live, she said.
“He can’t even get on his skateboard,” she said, adding that she’s dealt with racism throughout her life. “That’s why I’m here.”
Walking alongside the crush of protesters, community organizer Pete White briefly stopped in front of a Chase bank branch to snap a photo of a scrawled message: “Chase yo dreams.” Nearby, Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” and N.W.A’s “F— tha Police” blasted from a speaker.
“State violence brings me out here today,” said White, who turned 49 on Tuesday.
“We see the signs that say ‘Justice for George Floyd,’ but also, when you see the kaleidoscope of faces, it’s justice for immigrants, it’s justice in thinking that housing is a human right,” said White, a South L.A. resident and founder of the Los Angeles Community Action Network.
There is no peace without justice, he added.
“How do you get justice? By making sure you defund the police and take all of those resources and put it in schooling, put it in services, in housing, in universal healthcare,” White said. “We’re saying we don’t need another commission, another study or implicit bias training. We’ve been there and the same thing keeps happening. Again and again.”
Los Angeles County officials imposed a countywide curfew for the third consecutive day Tuesday, citing a desire to protect public safety amid ongoing protests. Some cities implemented even stricter limits.
In addition to the countywide curfew, three cities in L.A. County have opted to extend their own curfews through at least Wednesday morning.
Beverly Hills will be under curfew from 1 p.m. Tuesday till 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. Police will be “actively patrolling” the city, including residential areas, officials said.
In Torrance, officials imposed a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily for as long as L.A. County is under a state of emergency. Los Angeles city officials and Gov. Gavin Newsom declared the emergency shortly before midnight Sunday after protests in the Fairfax district turned violent and widespread looting erupted.
Moe, an immigrant from Iran, had his Santa Monica shop trashed by looters Sunday. He questions why the police didn’t cut off the looters before they got downtown.
Santa Monica police made 41 arrests Monday after taking 438 people into custody Sunday. The city also recorded 347 damage reports, including 84 for graffiti, with the majority affecting retail businesses. More than 150 buildings sustained significant damage, city officials said Tuesday.
“If you were out around our city Monday morning, as I was, you know our streets were full of residents with brooms and sweepers. Volunteers cleaned graffiti off walls. The resilient spirit of our city was evident everywhere. Even after the shocking events of Sunday, it is again great to be a Santa Monican,” Mayor Kevin McKeown said.
Under the curfews, people are prohibited from being on streets and sidewalks or in parks and other public spaces. The restrictions do not apply to law enforcement, first responders, people traveling to and from work, or individuals seeking medical care. Although the county curfew applies to all cities and unincorporated areas, individual cities can impose stricter limits.
After peaceful protests across the region, tensions escalated in Hollywood and Van Nuys on Monday evening, when numerous stores were looted.
Just after 1 p.m. in Hollywood, dozens of activists chanted, “Take a knee” at members of the National Guard. After several minutes, at least two guardsmen complied.
The crowd cheered.
Other protesters encountered a line of police officers and began chanting, “Walk with us,” and “Let us walk.” The group was trying to reach another crowd of demonstrators farther up Hollywood Boulevard, past Cherokee Avenue.
The marchers were met with a line of at least 20 LAPD officers who wouldn’t let them pass. As the group neared the line, their hands up, police began raising their batons to hold them back.
One protester placed a white flower in an officer’s pocket. The officer threw it to the ground.
A segment of the protest hit a snag later Tuesday afternoon as part of the crowd that had gathered near Ivar Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard surrounded police.
The confrontation came after law enforcement received a radio call about armed looters, authorities said. Protesters began throwing bottles and sticks in response to a growing police presence. Officers then fired rubber bullets.
As police pushed the crowd down Ivar, they confronted two women in a red pickup. The driver did not want to stop or put her keys on the dashboard as police tried to pass by, officers said. She was quickly detained.
“We don’t need a confrontation,” one officer later said into megaphone. “Leave the area.”
“Get out of the street, you can continue with your peaceful protest,” he continued.
Another officer, who declined to give his name, acknowledged that the protest had mostly been peaceful.
“Just a few people who ruin it for everybody else,” he said.
Heaven Bouldin had been demonstrating for several hours as the curfew neared.
At 25, she said, she has been protesting for 10 years.
“I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired,” she said, holding a sign that read, “Stop killing black people.”
“My people have been getting killed for the last 200 years. We’re in 2020 and we still can’t bring an end to this,” she said. “Somebody has to do something.”
On North Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, police were standing in a line blocking the road as a crowd chanted and screamed at them. One woman shouted: “All of you ... are found guilty. You violent criminals. All of this because y’all don’t want to stop killing black people. You treacherous snakes!”
One officer approached the protesters to announce through a megaphone that they were standing in a line to protect businesses that had been looted.
“We understand why you’re here,” the officer said before assuming his position in the line again.
When the crowd began chanting, “Take a knee! Take a knee!” at the officers, the woman screamed, “We will not take a knee!” and charged toward officers, the yellow caution tape stopping her. “Back up, sis!” A young woman told her.
The woman explained, emotionally, why they should not ask the officers for a knee.
“I’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been alive,” she said. “Y’all are stupid.... They already took a knee ... and they took a life. This don’t look like that to you?” she said, taking a knee herself and raising her fist in the air. “Y’all are ... ignorant. This ain’t a time to take a knee.”
The crowd stopped the chant and started a new one: “Say his name! George Floyd!”
Times staff writers Richard Winton, James Queally, Matthew Ormseth, Laura J. Nelson, Gustavo Arellano, Seema Mehta, Taryn Luna, Luke Money, Alene Tchekmedyian, Julia Wick, Jaclyn Cosgrove, Benjamin Oreskes and Anita Chabria contributed to this report.
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