Zimmerman verdict: Officials urge protesters to reject violence
At a news conference in South Los Angeles Tuesday, more than a dozen elected officials and community leaders vowed to put an end to any further violence over the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, but stressed the importance of new dialogue about race relations.
Mayor Eric Garcetti urged residents to “stay united in peace tonight.”
“We are determined here to stand together as the community to say that ... in this City of Angels, we will take this moment and make something good of it. “
Garcetti said extra police have been deployed to South Los Angeles after 14 people were arrested Monday night when a peaceful protest in Leimert Park over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Martin case turned violent.
Garcetti called on Angelenos to “take this moment and make something good of it.”
He and other officials noted that many of the people involved in Monday night’s unrest were young -- or not yet born -- in 1992 when riots engulfed Los Angeles following the acquittal of LAPD police officers videotaped beating a black man, Rodney King.
Garcetti said the department has made important reforms since then, and the city is more united.
“We can see that difference,” he said. “For somebody born after 1992, they see the world the way it is before them. So I think the importance of seeing the world through youth’s eyes is to see what is left undone. Our work isn’t finished here.”
Garcetti said he spent all day Tuesday in South Los Angeles, eating lunch on Crenshaw Boulevard and sitting with about 100 young people to talk about Monday’s events.
He invited one of the teenagers, Timothy Walker, to speak at the press conference. Walker, 17, was at Monday night’s peaceful protest, and watched it turn violent.
“What I saw there was a lot of frustration within the black community,” he said, adding that some “took that to a physical level.”
State Assembly member Holly Mitchell also said the unrest, while unfortunate, was “an amazing opportunity” for older generations of Angelenos to talk with younger generations about how to peacefully air complaints.
“We have to partner with you, we have to talk about our history,” she said.
Other officials at the news conference included Los Angeles Councilman Bernard Parks, who represents much of South Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who proposed a series of discussions on race featuring elected officials and church leaders.
Several officials, including Police Chief Charlie Beck and City Attorney Mike Feuer, talked about the balance between protecting people’s First Amendment right to protest with the need to keep communities safe.
“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.”
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