Los Angeles police will deploy dozens of additional officers around the Beverly Center on Wednesday evening in anticipation of a protest planned against the George Zimmerman verdict.
The officers are bracing for a potential fifth night of protests following Zimmerman’s acquittal Saturday in the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Los Angeles Police Department officials believe that organizers of the planned protest Wednesday relied on social media to publicize the event.
“We have sent dozens of officers to send the message that criminal behavior will not be tolerated,” Cmdr. Andrew Smith told The Times. “We will be using video evidence to identify and prosecute anyone involved in the lawlessness.”
About a mile away from the Beverly Center, police in Beverly Hills were preparing for a separate protest at La Cienega Park.
Protesters plan to gather at 5 p.m. at the park to call for an end to racial profiling in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.
The protesters plan to rally and march against what they describe as police injustice in Los Angeles and elsewhere, said Patrisse Cullors-Brignac, the rally’s main organizer.
“We’re trying to offer something perhaps new to the conversation, which is how does L.A. fit into this,” Cullors-Brignac said. “Peaceful protests have been very effective in making change so we want to be a part of that legacy.”
A separate community march has also been planned by the First African Methodist Episcopal Pasadena church Wednesday night, according to a statement released by organizers.
The march will follow a 6 p.m. Bible study that will focus on the issue of social justice. Participants in the march have been encouraged to wear hoodies.
In Los Angeles, police officials vowed to take a harder stance against illegal actions tied to protests after groups of vandals broke from a peaceful vigil Monday at Leimert Park and went on a rampage around Crenshaw Boulevard.
About 150 youths assaulted bystanders, stomped on vehicles, sparked fires and stormed into a Wal-Mart store, where they smashed display cases and tried to steal jewelry, according to witnesses and police. At least 14 people were arrested in connection with Monday’s incidents.
The mayhem resumed Tuesday night when roving bands of youths battered and robbed people on Hollywood Boulevard. The youths stole cellphones, jewelry, purses and wallets, the LAPD said.
Police believe the youths in Hollywood may have tried to take advantage of heavy police deployment in South Los Angeles. About 14 teens have been arrested in connection with the incident, according to police officials.