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Massive Hollywood protest shows the staying power of the George Floyd movement

Thousands participate in a peaceful march through Hollywood on Sunday.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

If there were any doubts about whether the George Floyd protest movement was slowing, the answer came Sunday as an estimated 20,000 people converged on Hollywood for a huge march and demonstration.

It was one of scores of protests across Southern California over the weekend but appeared to be by far the biggest.

Love Alvarez, 23, a downtown Los Angeles resident, stood on the roof of a car at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, where the protest consolidated as night fell. She hoisted a sign that read, “Black is beautiful.”

“I needed to give out a different message today, something positive,” she said. “We are not just criminals like they make us out to be.”

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In the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, a 39-year-old white man who wanted to give only his first name, Benjamin, held a massive sign reading, simply, “Defund.”

“The primary function of the police is to protect and defend white property,” he said of why he thought the department’s budget should be slashed. “As a white male, I have a responsibility to speak out against this.”

Protest leaders on a bullhorn repeatedly praised the diversity of the crowd.

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A candlelight vigil filled part of the Highland intersection, near the Dolby Theatre. President Trump’s nearby star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame had been defaced with graffiti denouncing the president. Someone had left what appeared to be a bag of dog feces atop the star.

The protest was peaceful, even as it shifted into the evening. Helicopters circled high above; drones buzzed around closer to the ground.

Protests over the police killing of George Floyd are springing up in more affluent, white and suburban areas than law enforcement protests have before. Experts say the trend reflects a sea change in the views of white residents.

Cesar Castillo, 30, who was born and raised in Los Angeles and still lives in the city, held a sign depicting Mayor Eric Garcetti kissing LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

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Castillo said he was “frustrated” with Garcetti, who he thinks “took some action but not enough action” to reform the LAPD.

Castillo said Garcetti should dump Moore, who has “proven he is not the right person to take us through this moment.”

In Compton, the Compton Cowboys joined a spirited caravan of motorcycles and hundreds of sign-waving demonstrators.

The Compton Cowboys, a group of close-knit friends who formed a horseback riding club in 2017 aimed at dispelling stereotypes about black people, brought particular joy to the demonstration.

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The march in Compton stopped at the Martin Luther King Jr. monument outside the city’s Civic Center, where speakers played “Alright” by Compton-born rapper Kendrick Lamar. The crowd was silent for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time that prosecutors said Floyd was pinned to the ground, with his neck under the knee of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

As the march passed a sheriff’s station, Gary Mumford, 54, of Compton, held up his sign to show them: “8min 46secs Pure Evil.”

“I’m not so naive as to think that every single police officer is evil,” he said, “but I do know that when you start covering up and not speaking and being silent, then you’re part of the problem.”

The Compton Cowboys joined a caravan of motorcycles and demonstrators as part of a growing national movement to end police brutality and systemic racism.

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Mumford described an interaction with police in Lakewood during which he was handcuffed, put face-down on the ground and kicked by officers. He could have “died that day,” he said. He’s glad the charges against the officer who killed Floyd were upgraded, but he said “until we get a conviction, none of this matters.”

“We’ve got to continue to protest, continue to talk about what matters,” Mumford said.

Andre Spicer, a council liaison for Compton’s District 1, said he and others organized the march because police brutality, and a lack of accountability for those actions, was also an issue in Compton.

“We don’t get justice here,” he said.

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Several other protests and vigils were held Sunday afternoon and evening in East Los Angeles, Glendale, Beverly Hills and other communities across Southern California.


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