On a cloudy Saturday morning in South Los Angeles, hundreds of marchers took to the streets to call for an end to police abuse and black-on-black violence.
When Tritobia Ford and her family arrived, the crowd parted and someone yelled, “Let’s show them some love!”
“I do not believe that God allowed my son to be taken for nothing,” Ford said. Her mentally ill son, 25-year-old Ezell Ford, was shot by Los Angeles police during an encounter on Aug. 11.
Authorities said Ford tried to grab the gun of one of the officers, leading to a violent struggle over the weapon. Both officers then opened fire. One of them was on the ground wrestling with Ford for the gun. That officer, police said, grabbed a backup weapon, reached around Ford’s body and shot him in the back.
His death came at a time when tensions were high between local communities and their police departments. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., have led to numerous, sometimes violent, protests across the country.
On Saturday, marchers gathered outside the LAPD Southwest Community Police Station and invoked the name of Ezell Ford and other black men killed by police, with some shouting, “Black lives matter.”
Tritobia Ford was tearful as she spoke, wearing a T-shirt bearing her son’s photo and the words, “Justice 4 Ezell.”
“My daughter once asked me, ‘Mom, do you hate the cops that killed Ezell?’” she said. “And I have to tell her, ‘No, I don’t hate them. I have no time for hate.… I pray that God blesses them, that God has mercy on them … that God will deal with them justly.”
Hundreds of people joined the more than two-mile march from the police station down Martin Luther King Jr. and Crenshaw boulevards to Leimert Plaza Park. The march was organized by the Black Leadership Coalition to coincide with the 50th anniversary of civil rights leader Malcolm X’s assassination.
“Our message is loud and clear that mothers shouldn’t have to bury their children at the hands of people who are supposed to protect them, and that is law enforcement,” state Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson) said. “As a community, we stand for justice. We stand for peace.”
As they marched, participants also called for an end to black-on-black violence and for more economic progress in their community.
Deniesha Lenoir, of Inglewood, walked with her 7-year-old twin daughters, all of them holding framed photos of slain family members.
Lenoir carried a photo of her brother, Commedore Lenoir, 29, who was shot in 2011 in Gramercy Park, leaving behind three children. He was killed by a suspected gang member as he walked down the street, his sister said.
Deniesha Lenoir said another brother, 24-year-old Comontray Lenoir, was killed in Long Beach in 2009, another victim of gang violence.
“I’m hoping that all the violence stops,” she said.
Behind Lenoir, a group of marchers shouted, “All lives matter!”
Paula Henderson of Los Angeles walked quietly with a framed photo of her son, Lee Adan, a black man who was shot and killed one day before his 21st birthday in 2010. His killing remains unsolved, Henderson said.
“We’re tired of burying our kids,” she said. “My son did not deserve to die, and I’m out here to make it known that we have to get some justice. More graduations and fewer funerals.”