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‘A good army’: L.A. protesters from diverse backgrounds converge on streets

“This is a peaceful protest.”

Their voices rose as about a dozen LAPD cars passed by heading down Vine Street in Hollywood on Tuesday.

Thousands took to the street in Hollywood and later in downtown Los Angeles in what appeared to be the biggest protests in the city since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

The marches lasted for hours, with hundreds being arrested at night for violating curfew orders.

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Along with the anger over police brutality, many protesters wanted to make clear they came in peace. Over the last few days, looting had followed some marches, with opportunists taking advantage of the protests to steal. But there was far less looting Tuesday, according to initial reports.

Here are some of the voices from Tuesday:

‘I’m tired, I’m tired’

Among the crowd in Hollywood was 25-year-old Heaven Bouldin.

“I’ve been protesting for the last 10 years. I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired,” she said. “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. ... Somebody has to do something.

“It’s ridiculous that 1,000 protesters have been arrested, but it’s taken so long to arrest the four people . [involved in Floyd’s death]... It should be all four, not one,” Bouldin said, referring to Derrick Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who pinned Floyd to the ground with a knee to his neck. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder.

Bouldin was in Hollywood protesting for several hours Tuesday. She held a sign that read, “F— your curfew. Stop killing black people.”

She wasn’t there when police shot rubber bullets into the crowd but heard about it afterward.

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“People are willing to risk their lives right now, and it’s scary,” she said. “But people are tired. My people are tired ... and I get it.”

She’s been peacefully protesting in her neighborhood too. On Monday night, she and her boyfriend held signs up past curfew.

“I’m all for doing what’s safe for yourself. In order to make a change, we have to stay above six feet, we have to stay alive. They’re setting these curfews so that they can arrest us, so that they can kill us.

“I encourage everyone else to try and do this as safely as possible.”

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Care packages

In downtown Los Angeles, several protesters carried packets of water, granola bars and clementines.

Lauren Skillen, 26, of Los Angeles, and her sister Taylor, 28, woke up Tuesday and wanted to do something to help the protest efforts.

Lauren’s office, a production company, let everyone off work for Blackout Tuesday.

The sisters asked for donations on social media and collected $160 in two hours. They went to two stores and bought Gatorade, water, bandages, alcohol wipes and tissues. After assembling 60 care packages in Ziplock bags, they headed downtown.

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“Sometimes it feels hollow to be another body — I know that’s not right thinking — but I wanted to be able to do something,” she said.

Columnist LZ Granderson spoke with protesters in downtown Los Angeles and found a readiness toward goodwill and solidarity.

‘We have Americans here’

On the steps of L.A. City Hall on Tuesday, protesters urged each other to stay back from a barricade placed between them and rows of police and National Guard troops.

A black woman with a megaphone stood before the crowd and the Guard to show gratitude for both. She asked people to look around and thank people of different races who were with them.

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“We have Caucasian people here, we have Asian people here, we have Hispanic people here,” she said. “We have Americans here. We have non-citizens here. … We need to thank everyone for standing united because, guess what? We are standing together.”

Nearby, Raynard Sterling, a nurse practitioner and former combat medic, stood in a white coat and teal surgical mask, taking in the scene.

“I think individuals like me, African Americans that have seen this happen routinely and even in other states, in urban America, we’re angry,” said Sterling, 52. “The underlying emotion is anger. We’re also hurt for [Floyd] and his family, but we’re very angry.”

‘Being a part of history’

Many parents brought their children to experience this moment in history. Khalil Bass, 30, who is black, brought his 6-month-old son.

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“I don’t want him, when he gets his driver’s license, to be pulled over for no reason and have guns drawn on him,” Bass said.

When Bass was a football player in high school and college, he was repeatedly pulled over as he drove his teammates around and officers saw a car full of men of color, he said. Bass also played football in Canada and said the police there are remarkably different.

“When you come home, it’s that feeling like you did something wrong when you know you didn’t,” he said.

Bass was laid off from his job as a trainer at a gym in Beverly Hills in mid-March. He said it seems like people have more time to pay attention and read the news because so many millions are not working amid the pandemic.

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“There’s a feeling of being a part of history,” he said. “Everyone feels like we can make a change, and more people are jumping on the bandwagon. This is the first time it is not all black people at a protest.”

This year’s L.A. Pride will be a peaceful protest march in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, organizers announced. It will take place June 14 starting at Hollywood and Highland.

‘A good army’

Wearing a short-sleeve shirt covered with photos of cats and a pink-hued, leopard-print mask, 8-year-old Gianna Garcia said people needed to know that the protesters were strong and powerful.

“It’s going to be a good army,” she said.

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Sitting atop a slow-moving black Jetta on Spring Street with her legs dangling through the sunroof, Gianna held her small, clenched fist aloft. She clutched a sign reading: #ChargeAllFour.

Her mother, Maureen Maldonado, was in the back seat, holding another sign with the words “I can’t breathe.”

Maldonado, a Latina, said that she and her daughter had been protesting for four days. Coronavirus had “removed all types of childcare” from the 38-year-old office manager’s life, but she believed that her daughter needed to be here.

“At least for me, the only change I can make is that I shape my daughter the right way,” Maldonado said.

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Yoga break

After rounds of chanting, the demonstrators outside Getty House — the mayor’s residence — went silent as a person led hundreds in breathing and yoga.

“Inhale fully through your nose,” a person instructed, as the crowd did light stretching. “Exhale fully through your nose.”

The demonstrators were quiet except for the whir of the helicopter above and the instructions to breath and press their palms together. One of the demonstrators, who gave only his first name, Fernando, said he chose to join the protest outside the mayor’s house to send a message.

“It’s personal to everyone, and the people running this city and this country need to know this,” he said. “This is my second protest today, and the consistency is what I appreciate.

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“People are safe and peaceful and consistent — because this has to go on,” he said, gesturing to the crowd gathered with signs.


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