The Los Angeles Police Department was bracing for protests Monday night over the not-guilty verdict in George Zimmerman’s murder trial.
LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said police are hoping that any future protests are peaceful but will have officers out in force to make sure demonstrators don’t get out of hand. One protest is planned for the Leimert Park area.
Community leaders gathered at Leimert Park on Monday morning and pleaded with demonstrators to keep protests peaceful.
“Let’s make sure that it is safe, peaceful and calm,” said Najee Ali, a community activist and head of Project Islamic Hope. “Let’s honor Trayvon Martin’s legacy by not breaking the law.”
At least eight people were arrested during protests that stretched from Sunday into Monday morning in the wake of Saturday’s verdict. Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder in the shooting death or unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
One person was arrested for battery on a peace officer near 10th Street and Washington Boulevard and five others for failure to disperse in Hollywood during the demonstrations. Arrests were also made for vandalism and causing a disturbance.
Police called off a citywide tactical alert Monday morning.
Community leaders Monday praised Los Angeles police for their response to Sunday’s protests and encouraged supporters to attend a prayer vigil scheduled at the park for 6 p.m. Organizers and police pleaded ahead of time for demonstrators to maintain order.
“They don’t want to see the community destroyed, they don’t want to see the traffic snarled,” said LAPD spokesman Sunny Sasajima.
On Sunday night, about 80 protesters chanting “No justice, no peace” had gathered in front of the CNN building on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood shortly after midnight, which police declared an unlawful assembly.
More than 100 LAPD officers in riot gear converged on the crowd, arresting protesters and telling people to disperse. Some officers fired non-lethal rounds into the crowd.
Sunday evening, marchers blocked the 10 Freeway in the Mid-City area.
The California Highway Patrol said “police activity” around the 10 Freeway and Crenshaw Boulevard jammed traffic for a time.
LAPD sources said a splinter group from a larger protest walked down an onramp to the 10 Freeway and stood mostly in the eastbound lanes. Officials said portions of the 10 were closed from 6:20 p.m. to 6:44 p.m. but were then reopened.