As peaceful protests continue, LAPD budget could be cut by up to $150 million to reinvest in communities of color
(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)
As protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd stretched into a sixth day, Los Angeles officials said Wednesday that they will look to cut $100 million to $150 million from the city’s police budget as part of a broader effort to reinvest more dollars into the black community.
In all, Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged that the city would “identify $250 million in cuts so we can invest in jobs, in health, in education and in healing,” especially in the city’s black community “as well as communities of color and women and people who have been left behind.”
Those cuts, he said, would be “to every department, including the Police Department, because we all have to be part of this solution together. We all have to step up and say, ‘What can we sacrifice?’”
Eileen Decker, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, said that effort includes identifying $100 million to $150 million in cuts from the Police Department — something City Council President Nury Martinez and other council members had called for earlier in the day. The LAPD’s total annual budget is $1.86 billion.
Mayor Eric Garcetti says the LAPD will see budget cuts of $100 million to $150 million.
Garcetti also said the city will impose a moratorium on placing people in a statewide database for identifying and tracking gang members — which reform advocates had lobbied for — and will require officers to intervene when they see inappropriate use of force and report misconduct.
The mayor also said he would support the creation of a special prosecutor to review officer misconduct cases, another demand of activists.
The announcements came as demonstrators filled the streets outside City Hall and nearby Grand Park. Many chanted “Black lives matter” and “What’s the problem? The whole damn system!” as LAPD helicopters orbited overhead.
News of Garcetti’s announcement was met with mixed reaction among the demonstrators outside.
Carter Gregory, 26, said it was a good first step. “I think he’s listening and needs to keep going,” he said.
Al Calderon, 26, said more should be done at the top. “The D.A. should be held accountable for her lack of leadership and care for the people that we lost,” he said of Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey,
Though Wednesday’s demonstrations have so far been peaceful affairs, more than 60 people now face criminal charges in Los Angeles County stemming from their alleged roles in the looting and violent clashes that marred protests this week, authorities announced.
Many of the charges filed against the 61 defendants are for alleged looting, according to the L.A. County district attorney’s office, but some people also face counts of burglary, robbery, identity theft, receiving stolen property, possession of a destructive device and assault and/or battery upon a peace officer.
“I support the peaceful organized protests that already have brought needed attention to racial inequality throughout our society, including in the criminal justice system,” Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “I also have a constitutional and ethical duty to protect the public and prosecute people who loot and vandalize our community.”
Los Angeles County also extended its sweeping curfew for a fourth day.
County officials opted to begin the curfew at 9 p.m., three hours later than previous nights, although Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his deputies would not begin enforcement until 10 p.m. — meaning that residents in areas patrolled by sheriff’s deputies could be outside until then.
In all areas, however, the curfew ends at 5 a.m. Thursday, and does not apply to law enforcement, first responders, people traveling to and from work and unsheltered individuals.
Villanueva said early Wednesday that officials were assessing whether to continue the curfew for another day, noting “big improvements from previous days” related to the protests.
County Supervisor Janice Hahn disagreed with extending the curfew. She said curfews may have been warranted on Sunday and Monday nights, but “now it seems like they are being used to arrest peaceful protesters.”
“I don’t think they are needed anymore,” she wrote on Twitter.
Garcetti said that, “barring a bad night” Wednesday, the overnight curfew will be lifted in the city Thursday.
The LAPD has been collecting evidence throughout the protests, mostly in the form of video, that could be used to identify people and bring charges.
On Wednesday, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Torrance and Culver City extended curfews in their cities for another day. The Santa Monica and Culver City curfews will be enforced from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. Thursday. The curfew in Torrance will be enforced from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday.
In Beverly Hills, the city is imposing two curfews. The first, in the city’s business districts, will begin at 1 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. Thursday. The citywide curfew will begin at 4 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. Thursday.
The countywide curfew has sparked widespread criticism from protesters who see the action as an attempt to quell criticism of law enforcement. On Tuesday, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger requesting that she rescind or restrict the curfew order.
ACLU senior counsel Ahilan Arulanantham wrote in the letter that the U.S. Constitution does not permit the county to order such a sweeping restriction on free speech and travel to address “a few localized attacks on property.”
“We recognize that in the last few days some individuals have damaged and stolen property in areas where many others have engaged in peaceful protests, but that unlawful conduct cannot justify a state of emergency in the entire county that effectively places over 10 million people under house arrest for twelve hours every evening and morning,” Arulanantham wrote.
L.A. County wasn’t alone. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said a curfew would probably remain in effect in the capital through Sunday.
“We’re keeping it for a few days longer just to keep the community, including the protesters, safe,” he said. “If we continue to see peaceful demonstrations then we can start fresh next week.”
Though there has been little unrest since stealing and vandalism hit Sacramento’s downtown area and some suburbs on Sunday night, authorities have not indicated they plan to remove the order, and 500 National Guard troops remain in the city and county to protect critical sites.
Protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd continue in the Bay Area and Sacramento Monday, overall peaceful but with some incidents.
More than 100 protesters gathered in front of Anaheim City Hall on Wednesday morning for what was billed as a peaceful sit-in to honor Floyd.
Shortly before 11 a.m., the group laid down silently on the steps of the civic center for eight minutes to memorialize the amount of time the officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck.
In Los Angeles County, more than a thousand peaceful protesters filled the streets outside Los Angeles City Hall early Wednesday evening, while earlier in the day, more than a thousand protesters, many holding signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” converged on the intersection of La Cienega and Santa Monica boulevards in West Hollywood.
Cars driving by honked in support as protesters chanted Floyd’s name. Eventually, the crowd made its way into the street and knelt down, blocking traffic and chanting “I can’t breathe.”
Nick Atkinson repeatedly yelled at sheriff’s deputies about how they should be wearing masks and taking a knee and should be held accountable for their actions.
He said he has lived in Los Angeles for 20 years and wants to make it clear that killing black men and women is wrong.
“Where are your masks? Why aren’t you wearing your masks? You’re all paid to serve and protect us,” he yelled.
As marchers made their way through Hollywood, the protest took on a festive atmosphere with many people exchanging hugs or handing out water, masks and hand sanitizer.
In Orange County, several hundred people had gathered along MacArthur Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach by 1 p.m. for the first of several planned demonstrations in the city.
Simran Gaglani, 23, of Irvine was among the crowd that gathered near Fashion Island to decry the death of Floyd and denounce police brutality against people of color. Despite Orange County’s history as a haven for conservative politics in California and its embrace of law-and-order politicians, Gaglani said the demonstration highlighted what she believes is a progressive shift in the region’s political trajectory.
“It’s a new generation,” Gaglani said.
Fashion Island’s entrances on Wednesday were blocked with plastic barricades. Security guards stood sentry behind them. A line of Newport Beach police officers watched as protesters marched up and down the sidewalks of Pacific Coast Highway.
Two counterprotesters, waving American flags and a “Thin Blue Line” banner, were surrounded by demonstrators chanting, “Black lives matter.”
For Gale Oliver Jr., a pastor at the Greater Light Family Church in Santa Ana, a protest against racism and police brutality in one of Orange County’s wealthiest enclaves was a sign of the times.
“It’s a blessing that this is going on in Newport Beach,” Oliver, who is black, said. “I mean, this is going on in Newport Beach? I guess America is finally listening.”
Oliver said pastors in Santa Ana began meeting regularly with Orange County law enforcement officials about five years ago in hopes of ending “policing from the point of view that they’re under attack.” He said he’s seen progress, but more needs to be done.
“Two men have said, ‘I can’t breathe.’ One said it eight times, one said it 11 times,” Oliver said, referring to the deaths of Floyd and Eric Garner. “‘I can’t breathe’ — what that really means is there’s things that will suffocate you. Racism will suffocate you. Hate will suffocate you.”
Kyle Scallon turned out Wednesday to protest not just Floyd’s death, but also a discriminatory approach he believes law enforcement in Orange County has practiced for too long. Driving in his hometown of Mission Viejo and elsewhere in the county, Scallon, 21, said he has been pulled over by officers intent on questioning his girlfriend, who is Creole.
“I’m here because I just want cops to realize not everyone’s bad,” he said, standing with a group of protesters on the corner of MacArthur and Pacific Coast Highway. “It’s become the system, but they need to realize not everyone they meet is bad.”
While the protests in Newport were calm, a television camera captured a scary scene on Balboa Boulevard when a vehicle zipped through a crowd of demonstrators — colliding with a bicyclist.
No one was injured and the driver stopped and is cooperating with the investigation, Newport Beach Police Department spokeswoman Heather Rangel said. This doesn’t appear to have been a deliberate action, she added.
Two other protests were scheduled in Newport later in the evening, one on the pedestrian bridge over San Miguel Drive at Civic Center Park near City Hall, and another at the Back Bay.
Past demonstrations have been met with a large police presence, and officials have raised concerns about looting and vandalism in their communities.
About 25 National Guard service members will deploy to protect the Westfield mall in Culver City on Wednesday afternoon following several nights of people attempting to gain access to the shopping area to vandalize and loot, City Manager John Nachbar said.
“Using significant resources, the Culver City Police Department and local law enforcement partners have been successful in fighting off these criminal attempts, including using methods such as using buses to block mall parking lot entrances,” Nachbar wrote in a letter to the community. “In the meantime, other criminals have burglarized or attempted to burglarize other retail stores around Culver City.”
Ten retail stores have been burglarized in the past several days, and other threats have been made to shops in Culver City, including stores at the mall and the city’s two Target locations, Nachbar wrote.
“These threats have come through social media, law enforcement intelligence, community members, other neighboring law enforcement agencies, and mall management,” he wrote.
Elsewhere in the county, reports of looting and vandalism appeared to be down compared with previous days. However, peaceful protests showed no signs of ending.
Demonstrations on Tuesday, which centered in Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, were largely peaceful compared with earlier demonstrations that devolved into the destruction and looting of businesses.
Hundreds more were arrested, mostly for violating curfew when protesters refused to leave. But initial reports showed far less looting and vandalism than in recent days.
Still, confrontations with police continued. Several dozen protesters were arrested downtown after refusing to leave after the 6 p.m. curfew.
On Tuesday, hundreds gathered at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street to march through the streets in honor of Floyd. Eventually, the throng approached a line of several dozen officers holding batons.
“Let us walk,” the protesters yelled. Chants of “I can’t breathe,” among Floyd’s final choked words, echoed throughout the throng of demonstrators.
Aijshia Moody, 30, held a cardboard sign that read, “Am I next?” Her brother is 14 years old and has many times endured racial profiling in their hometown of Pacoima, 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.”
A crowd surrounded police near Ivar Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard in the early afternoon, 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.
Authorities had taken about 2,500 people into custody 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.
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.
Black Lives Matter organizers wanted to bring the rage over the George Floyd case and so many others to L.A.’s elites, in their own neighborhoods.
Heaven Bouldin, 25, said “it’s ridiculous” that so many protesters have been arrested when three Minneapolis officers who were present when Floyd died have yet to be held accountable.
“I’ve been protesting for the last 10 years. I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired,” Bouldin 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.”
Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who used his knee to hold Floyd on the ground by the neck, was fired last week and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The other officers at the scene when Floyd died — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng — are being investigated for their roles.
About 1 in 1,000 black men and boys in the U.S. can expect to die at the hands of police, according to a 2019 analysis by Rutgers University researchers.
Protesters have demanded that society at large, and particularly those in power, acknowledge and take action against such manifestations of systemic oppression.
Walking alongside a crush of protesters in Hollywood, community organizer Pete White briefly stopped in front of a Chase bank branch to snap a photo of a scrawled message: “Chase yo dreams.”
“State violence brings me out here today,” said White, a South L.A. resident who turned 49 on Tuesday.
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.”
At the downtown L.A. protests, many parents brought their children to experience the historic moment.
Khalil Bass, 30, and his wife brought their 6-month-old son.
Bass, a football player in high school and college, said he was repeatedly pulled over in Santa Clarita when he would drive his teammates somewhere and the police saw a car full of men of color.
“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 of his son.
Wearing a short-sleeve shirt covered with photos of cats, Gianna Garcia said that people needed to know that the protesters were strong and powerful.
The 8-year-old was perched atop a slow-moving black Jetta with her legs dangling through the sunroof, holding one small clenched fist aloft — high above the sea of protesters stretching as far as the eye could see in either direction on Spring Street. In her other hand, a white foam board sign said, “#Charge All Four.”
Her mom, Maureen Maldonado, was in the backseat, holding a list of black people killed by police officers, too long to fit on a single piece of cardboard.
Maldonado 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 also believed that her daughter should be at the protests.
“At least for me, the only change I can make is that I shape my daughter the right way,” Maldonado said.
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.
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.
Times staff writers Benjamin Oreskes, Matthew Ormseth, James Queally, Laura J. Nelson, Gustavo Arellano, Alene Tchekmedyian, Jaclyn Cosgrove, Anita Chabria, Laura Newberry, Sarah Parvini and Kevin Rector contributed to this report.
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