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Mayor Garcetti Says He Is Listening To His 'African American Brothers And Sisters,' But Makes No Promises About City Budget

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke at 6 p.m. to give updates on the protests against police brutality.

The subject of today's briefing was to speak about "Los Angeles’ efforts to keep the public safe."

Watch above or see highlights below.

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PROTESTS

The mayor repeatedly pointed out tonight that he went to the protests downtown today and kneeled in support of the protesters.

"I'm the mayor," he said, "so I know some people would be happy to see me, and others might be upset at this moment, and need to yell at me. And both of those things happened. That's part of what you do as a leader."

He continued:

"I left the protests in the street. After taking a knee, after praying and after addressing the crowd... and I joined Reverend Tulloss, who's the president of the Baptist ministers conference... they were as demanding about justice as everyone in America should be right now."

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Tonight's speech and the mayor's act of solidarity this afternoon, comes after Garcetti has been heavily criticised by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles for his proposed budget.

Here's what Dr. Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter had to say about it:

"We were outraged when we saw a budget that cut virtually every other city department, including the ones most needed right now in the midst of the pandemic and the economic fallout — while actually increasing funding to LAPD."

As Garcetti speaks, hundreds of protestors gathered at his residence in Hancock Park to voice their opposition to his budget.

In response to a question about whether or not protestors have the wrong impression of him, the mayor said "Oh, I never worry about people's impressions. I can only share my heart. I've shared my heart tonight."

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In response to a question about his thoughts on LAPD's use of rubber bullets and batons on protestors, Garcetti said, "I think that we've seen less of any of those tactics and I hope that we can see the most minimal, if not zero, of those tactics."

The mayor also defended LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who was criticized for his comments equating looting with murder. Moore swiftly walked the comments back and later issued a formal apology. "When I heard him say what he said, I knew that he did not mean that, and I know that he corrected it right away," Garcetti said.

GIVING THE STAGE TO A BLACK TEENAGER

Garcetti said he wanted to "do something different" today and give a young man that he met a chance to "tell his story." He introduced Davion Pilgrim, a 16-year-old from Morningside High School who had this to say:

"I was recently stopped by the police officers and racially and criminally profiled. I was accused of being associated with a gang. I thought that really hurt, because that's not me. I am a God-fearing young black man, I'm an athlete...I love God...I had a conversation with the mayor today that was hopeful. We want to make sure that what happens to George Floyd does not ever happen again to someone that looks like me. Losing our lives to police officers is one of the biggest fears that we have in South L.A."

He continued:
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"This is a hard moment. But the good news is that there is still time for unity. And while I think we should keep protesting and demand change, there is no need to loot and tear things down."

The mayor followed this speech by saying that he is listening to black voices. After going to the protests, he said, he "listened to folks on [his] own team."

"I listened to a powerful young black man who said that it's tough to even work in government right now," he said, adding that all non-black people in L.A. should make an effort to listen right now.

"To my fellow Angelenos, to my African American brothers and sisters who live in this city, I want to say, I hear you. And I hear that this isn't just about the criminal justice system. This is about also our society, and where we put our resources."

THE BUDGET

The mayor hinted that he may be thinking about amending his budget, but did not make any promises. Here's what he said:

"Our budget, which is a moral document, needs to keep people safe and protected. But the best way for people to be safe and protected -- and I hear you on the street loud and clear -- is not just by throwing dollars always into police departments, but also into youth programs and into educational opportunities and into trauma-based recovery for people who carry trauma.

"I don't have announcements tonight. But I want you to know that I've been having these conversations, for the last two or three days. I'm having them with my fellow elected officials, I'm having them with community leaders, I'm having them with young people who are demanding that I and we collectively do better."

He added that he wants to make sure we can see the difference between protestors and people who are looting:

"We will go after folks who break into businesses. We will go after people who are looting, or worse, causing violence against demonstrators or to peace officers, but let's put that here, and not let that dominate what this moment, and this movement is about."

CURFEW

In response to a question about the necessity and legality of a fourth night of mandatory curfews, Garcetti said "I need to protect all Angelenos, I need to protect protesters. I need to protect our police officers. And we saw dangerous, dangerous situations that almost resulted in death. And I won't let that happen."

The mayor added that he "looks forward to the day" when we can get rid of the curfew, the National Guard and the police officers wearing helmets.

The mayor also criticised the national response to the protests:

"It's also the responsibility I think at the national level, for there to be some leadership to bring this moment to a calmer place."

He said he does not plan to extend curfew for the rest of the week, but instead plans to take things day-by-day.

NATIONAL GUARD

The mayor said there are currently 1,000 National Guard troops on the streets of Los Angeles. He did not want to say where they are being housed. He added that he is not allowing them to go to South Los Angeles because "we haven't seen any looting going on there."

"They are in the places where we saw either buildings that were already broken into that need to be secured, so they can stand there to protect our small business owners from losing everything, or in neighborhoods where there is the threat of that," he said. "But they're deployed from West L.A. to Central Los Angeles to here downtown. And I believe there's some in the valley tonight as well."

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