Even as LAPD Chief Charlie Beck warned George Zimmerman verdict protesters to keep the streets open and vowed an “aggressive” police presence in South L.A., Occupy Los Angeles called on its supporters to converge on South L.A. on Tuesday evening.
On its Facebook page and Twitter account, the group told members to gather at Leimert Park at 5 p.m. for a “critical mass” bike bloc akin to critical mass bike rides that typically involve hundreds of riders moving in a group.
“Tonight, the struggle continues,” Occupy L.A. wrote on its Facebook page.
“Bottom line: Bring your indignation and resolve outside. Don’t keep it bottled up. Whether that is downtown or south LA, your own street corner or neighborhood park: Out of your apartments, buses, tents, houses, and cars! Into the streets!”
Should protests materialize, it would mark the fourth consecutive day of protests since Zimmerman was acquitted on Saturday in Floriday in the death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
The protests began Saturday night with peaceful marches. On Sunday, protests began to take a turn as some splinter groups blocked traffic on the 10 Freeway and another group marched to Hollywood. Eight people were arrested and several were issued citations.
On Monday, LAPD officials said about 150 people separated from a peaceful prayer vigil at Leimert Park and marched down Crenshaw Boulevard and neighboring streets, smashing windows, lighting fireworks and jumping on vehicles.
Several of the vandals stormed a Wal-Mart. They tossed merchandise and tried to smash a jewelry display before police arrived to secure the store. A reporter and cameraman from CBS2/KCAL9 were assaulted during an interview and suffered minor injuries.
LAPD declared an unlawful assembly and arrested 14 people, many of whom refused to disperse.
Beck spoke at a police commission meeting Tuesday morning and later at Dorsey High School.
The message was the same: “We would prefer that we make no arrests tonight,” Beck said. But he had a warning for anyone who did try to incite more violence: “You will go to jail.”
By late afternoon, hundreds of officers were being deployed to South L.A. Beck said protesters must keep the streets clear.
A separate protest was planned at City Hall in Los Angeles at 6 p.m., organized by AnswerLA.