Garcetti's Community Meeting Cut Short By Black Lives Matter Protesters
A community meeting hosted by Mayor Eric Garcetti at a South L.A. church last night was cut short by protesters.
Garcetti hosted a meeting at Holman United Methodist Church last night in South L.A. in an attempt to gather ideas on how to better serve the communities there, the L.A. Times reports. A few hundred people showed up to the meeting, including about 50 protesters who identified themselves as part of activist group Black Lives Matter.
When the protesters swarmed the stage, Garcetti was escorted out of the church and got into his car, which was also soon surrounded by protesters. One person allegedly jumped on the car, and an LAPD chopper was present shining a spotlight down on the car.
Rev. Kelvin Sauls, the pastor of the church, said he was "disturbed and disappointed" by the outcome.
"We were here to have a constructive and civil meeting with decency, so we can all examine what are some of the obstacles and opportunities in South Los Angeles. We certainly understand the rage because of the challenges in South L.A., but amidst that, we do not want to violate our own integrity," he said.
Other attendees to the meeting also expressed dismay in the meeting. Daryle Schumake, a 45-year-old man who lives in South L.A., said, "Whatever [the protesters] were talking about is not my reality," and called the activists a "sub-group that was trying to take over the town hall."
Garcetti issued a statement saying he was "disappointed that our conversation was cut short when there is so much work to do together to make our neighborhoods stronger and safer."
"The mayor has neglected, disrespected and abused the black community for far too long," Melina Abdullah, Black Lives Matter organizer and a professor of Pan Africa Studies at Cal State L.A., told the Times. "We are here today because this is real for us. This is not a political game. This is not about your reelection. This is about our lives."
At one point during the meeting, Garcetti did reference Black Lives Matter in his response to a complaint about violence in black neighborhoods.
"I hate this back-and-forth we hear nationally, where people say black lives matter and politicians say all lives matter. Black lives matter in a unique way, and you and I see eye to eye on this…If you just try to say all lives matter, you write people out of history. You write slavery out of history. You write oppression and violence out of history. You write racism and lynching out of history. So I get why it is important — just hear me out for one second— you're right."
This is not the first time these protesters have tried to get Garcetti's attention. They have protested outside his house in Windsor Square, at one point stopping him as he was on his way to catch a flight to D.C., the day before the police commission was to announce their decision on the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford by LAPD officers.
Black Lives Matter groups have a number of L.A. shootings involving LAPD officers and black men they can point to when it comes to their cause. There was the shooting of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old unarmed black man with a history of mental illness who was killed by police in August of last year. The Police Commission found that one officer acted within policy and that the other did not. There was also the shooting of Charley Keunang, a black, homeless man who was unarmed when he was shot and killed by LAPD officers on Skid Row.