Black Lives Matter Employed Non-Violent Resistance At The Mayor's House. LAPD Backed Off
On Tuesday afternoon, a large, peaceful demonstration took over the block in front of Getty House in Hancock Park — where Mayor Eric Garcetti lives — demanding justice for black people killed by police officers and the reallocation of city resources away from the Los Angeles Police Department.
Black Lives Matter L.A. kept the protest operation under wraps all day and off social media. Before the planned action in front of Garcetti's house, the organizers held an informal training at a nearby park, emphasizing nonviolent action.
The mayor happened to be at City Hall for a 6 p.m. address, but the protest itself was highly coordinated. Black Lives Matter-LA co-founder Melina Abdullah said they assembled a coalition of organizations including People's City Council-LA using "old-fashioned phone calls," text messages and door knocks.
"We all work together because this whole issue of defunding the police is actually inclusive of George Floyd, but it's also bigger than George Floyd," she said. Abdullah and other organizers are behind "The People's Budget," an alternative plan for city spending that calls for funding social services, housing and transportation instead of police.
One protester, Millana Snow, said she was "amazed and impressed" by the level of organizing, noting that clear instructions were given to protesters to ensure their safety and prevent damage to property, and that representatives from the National Lawyers Guild, identified by neon green caps, were on hand to give legal advice.
Black Lives Matter leaders spoke at the gates of the mayor's mansion, using bullhorns to decry police brutality. Family members of people killed by law enforcement also shared their stories. An impromptu "electric slide" line dance lightened the mood.
Meanwhile, at the north end of the block, at South Irving Boulevard and West 6th Street, over 100 protesters took a defensive posture, sitting down at the corner of Irving Boulevard and 6th street, facing a line of police in helmets. People holding signs and recording with cell phones chanted "defund the police," "f*** Garcetti" and "[District Attorney] Jackie Lacey must go."
Faced with a tactic of nonviolent resistance, officers withdrew. LAPD Commander Cory Palka, who became internet famous when he took a knee with protesters in West Hollywood on Monday, described his feelings as "complex."
"I clearly acknowledge the frustration and the anger throughout this country," Palka said. "We're trying to do the best we can to facilitate the expression of peace and understand the frustration. There's a lot of work to be done and moving forward. And it's been a difficult challenge for us. And very sad for this great city called Los Angeles."
The confrontation ended differently than scenes captured on camera elsewhere in L.A., where LAPD used tear gas and rubber bullets to scatter demonstrators. LAPD officers began taking their helmets off. Some of the green-accented guns used to shoot rubber bullets disappeared. And eventually, the line of officers disengaged, pulling back around the corner to allow protesters to flow across 6th Street.
Protesters cheered when the realization swept through the crowd: police were backing off.
"Whose streets? Our streets," came the jubilant call-and-response.
LAPD didn't go far: armed officers were standing by waiting to respond, and photos on social media showed buses staged just a couple blocks away to carry off anyone arrested in the demonstrations.
But in the midst of a painful week, the small victory sent a ripple of joy and strength through the young crowd. They had carved out space to express what's on the hearts of so many weary people of color in Los Angeles — and this time, the uniforms and guns got out of their way.
Here are some images from the scene:
Outside Mayor Garcetti's house peaceful protesters are demanding #CareNotCops and a #PeoplesBudget. Organizers with @BLMLA kept this action under wraps all day. They held a training nearby to emphasize peaceful methods of resistance. @MikeRoe and I are here for @LAist @KPCC pic.twitter.com/wojP74qcJq— Libby Denkmann (@libdenk) June 2, 2020
Large police presence in intersection next to the mayor's house for #BlackLivesMatter protest (some in masks, some not)— Mike Roe (@MikeRoe) June 3, 2020
Crowd chants including "racist cops have got to go" & "defund the police"
(Covering for @LAist/@KPCC w/ @libdenk) pic.twitter.com/skWEagcucv
Mike Roe contributed to this story.