Black Lives Matter Protesters Gather At LA Federal Building In Solidarity With Portland
Hundreds of protesters occupied a large intersection on Wilshire Boulevard for nearly an hour-and-a-half on Sunday to show solidarity with those fighting the federal police response in Portland, Oregon.
Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles led the rally that began around noon in the park next to the Federal Building in Westwood, about a mile from the UCLA campus.
Longtime activist Akili had this message for federal authorities: "Do not come to L.A.!"
Speakers with Black Lives Matter also used the event — one of its largest in recent weeks as crowds have thinned — to remind protesters what they were fighting for in the wake of George Floyd's killing by a police officer in Minneapolis, and to urge unity against President Trump, as well as fascism and capitalism.
Hundreds of BLM protesters now blocking Wilshire intersection by the fed building, about a mile from UCLA.— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) July 26, 2020
"Whose streets? Our streets!" pic.twitter.com/pDn6kCH9Xl
Janaya Future Khan, a Black Lives Matter activist, led protesters from the park to the middle of the intersection, as other protesters formed a human wall between oncoming traffic and the rally.
"See yourselves as the movement, not adjacent to it," Future said. "You are the revolution."
Future tells all protesters you are now part of the movement, not adjacent.— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) July 26, 2020
"We are a family!" pic.twitter.com/YDeQpVZymO
The event followed a night of protests in downtown L.A. that led to some violent encounters between LAPD and individuals that were captured on video. Citing vandalism as a problem, police declared a tactical alert.
Sunday's protest drew no obvious law enforcement presence until the end when dozens of sheriff's deputies appeared on the esplanade of the federal building, home to the FBI Los Angeles field offices. But Black Lives Matter members said they had also spotted plainsclothes police in their midst and urged caution among protesters.
Sometime toward the end of the protest, dozens of sheriff's deputies showed up on the esplanade outside the federal building pic.twitter.com/wyS5BSMde4— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) July 26, 2020
The event was disrupted by more than a dozen people loudly praying on the outskirts of the rally, proclaiming "Hallelujah" and railing against paganism. Asked to identify who she was with, one woman in the group replied, "Jesus!"
Meanwhile 150 or so ft away, the hallelujah protesters are still here, praying loudly. No masks. Saw someone from the Nat'l Lawyers Guild trying to give them masks earlier to no avail pic.twitter.com/KNlTklFSmP— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) July 26, 2020
Hallelujah protester shouts "this is America" as BLM protesters try to keep them from approaching rally. BLM protester on megaphone asks others not to be provoked. pic.twitter.com/pdlMeh20u5— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) July 26, 2020
Twitter sleuth Adrian Riskin who blogs at michaelkohlhaas.org saw video footage of the religious counterprotesters and noticed the "Truth made simple" flag on the microphone brandished by one of them. Riskin was able to link members of the group to the Rialto-based His Way Spirit Led Assemblies.
Speakers at the event urged protesters to ignore the counterprotesters, whose members repeatedly traversed Wilshire and Veteran.
Most protesters instead listened intently to some of the youngest members of the Black Lives Matter movement, including co-founder Melina Abdullah's 16-year-old daughter, Thandiwe Abdullah.
The younger Abdullah chastised protesters who had stopped taking to the streets.
"Black lives can only matter for a month and you all say that's enough," Abdullah said.
Melina Abdullah's 16 yo daughter Thandiwe chastises hashtag activists. Guess what, she says, George Floyd can't show up today. pic.twitter.com/QgFlx664cR— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) July 26, 2020
Other speakers spoke to the unrest in Portland such as Hamid Khan of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.
Hamid Khan of @stoplapdspying says what's happening in Portland has always been happening. Says if fighting for peace makes him a violent extremist then "f*ck you, I'm a violent extremist!" pic.twitter.com/nGP82VHqfK— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) July 26, 2020
Black Lives Matter supporter Joseph Williams said after the event he was happy with the turnout.
"Folks are returning to the streets because we're seeing the repression from the federal government," Williams said. "I think this was a show of solidarity with Portland, with Seattle, with Chicago — and the people showed up today."
10:40 p.m. This story was updated to include information about the religious group disrupting the protest.