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Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter L.A. says work ‘ain’t near done’ after Chauvin verdict

A woman with a megaphone speaks while raising her thumb and index finger into the air
Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, addresses demonstrators gathered outside the official residence of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti in December.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

A Black Lives Matter protest Wednesday afternoon that focused on defunding the Los Angeles Police Department and disrupting police associations began with a collective breathing exercise.

As Oge Egbuonu, an L.A.-based yogi and filmmaker, guided the crowd of about 150 people through the practice, she said its purpose was to help them calm their bodies and to hold space for those who can no longer breathe because of police violence.

“As we breathe in and as we exhale a collective sigh of relief in the name of George Floyd, we ain’t near done,” said Melina Abdullah, a Cal State L.A. professor who co-founded and helps lead Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, after the exercise. She stood on a stage in front of the American Civil Liberties Union building in downtown L.A., across the street from the L.A. Police Protective League.

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“We ain’t near done!” she repeated.

The protest came one day after the murder conviction of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd last May. Floyd’s death sparked mass protests last year and spurred calls from activists across the country for police departments to be defunded.

Sporadic celebrations erupted after the former police officer was convicted in the death of George Floyd.

Wednesday’s event also came a day after L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposal to increase LAPD spending by 3% in the upcoming budget, a decision that riled activists.

“This trash mayor … saw fit to release a budget that increases funding to LAPD even as LAPD shot eight people in 14 days,” Abdullah said.

Despite being pleased by the verdict in the Chauvin case, protesters pointed to Garcetti’s budget and other issues they have with police, and said they have no intention to stop protesting soon.

Marina Hernandez Vergara, the sister of Daniel Hernandez, who was fatally shot by an LAPD officer in April 2020 when officers responded to a multi-car collision in South L.A., gave an impassioned speech about her brother. Thursday marks the anniversary, or “angelversary” as many protesters called it, of Hernandez’s death.

“Yesterday, I saw hope,” she said about the Chauvin verdict.

She added: “This sets a precedent that, yes, they will be held accountable.”


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