LA Councilman Mike Bonin: 'We Need To Pay Attention To The Violence Of Systemic Racism'

A protester in Pan Pacific Park on Saturday. (Josie Huang/LAist)

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We asked Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin, whose 11th district covers portions of West L.A. including Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Playa Del Rey, Mar Vista, Venice and Westchester, for his thoughts on what happened yesterday and last night in the city. He told us:

Well, there's a number of things that happened yesterday. There were the peaceful protesters that were out in the street demanding justice, demanding an end to racism and violence against black men and an end to systemic racism embedded into so many systems in a country: health care and education, finance, housing.

And then there were these acts of violence, and the acts of violence were repugnant. And we need to have a period of inquiry and reckoning to find out who was behind it.

Bonin went on to say he had heard "rumors and reports" that anarchists and white supremacists had been involved in vandalism and violence, which he said was among a number of questions that must be investigated.

"I'm seeing lots of footage of black people trying to tell white people to behave and stop vandalism and stop looting," he said. "I'm hearing reports of cops who had rocks or bottles thrown at them. And then I'm hearing a lot of reports from protesters who say they were peaceably assembling, and then they got pepper-sprayed or then they got tear gassed or then they got hit with rubber bullets."

Asked about the presence of the National Guard on L.A.'s streets, Bonin said: "Any time there are troops in the streets of Los Angeles, that's a problem, and that's a failure of so many different things. I think that we need to get people calm, and I'm hoping today will be that day of calm."

"My very, very strong belief is that almost all of the people who were out on the streets yesterday — and I know many of them were there peacefully and peaceably — did absolutely nothing wrong, and there were some instigators and there were some troublemakers, and that's who Los Angeles needs to be guarding people from, not the majority of people who were out there."

The bottom line, he told us:

"As we are focused on what happened last night, as we're focused on the acts of violence that usurped and tried to discredit legitimate protest, we need to pay as much attention to the violence that is causing people like George Floyd to die. We need to pay attention to the violence of systemic racism."

Bonin noted "violence in a health care system right now" as people of color get sick and die at a disproportionate rate from COVID-19.

And he said we also need "to pay attention to the violence being fomented from the White House right now, calling for protesters to be sicced with vicious dogs and calling for a MAGA night at the White House. We need to be paying attention to all of those strains of violence."

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