Here's What Happened When Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Tried To Meet Mayor Garcetti
"He's not here. He's at public events." explained Ana Guerrero, Mayor Garcetti's chief of staff. "We weren't expecting you."
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein seemed to be expecting this answer. "Alright, well, yes. I didn't exactly know myself that I would be dropping by here either."
The 'here' was the third floor of Los Angeles City Hall, in the lobby waiting area for the mayoral portion of the floor. The 'when' was about 4:15 p.m. on Monday. The 'why 'was because Dr. Stein was prompted to after meeting with several Black Lives Matter activists, some who have camped outside of City Hall for nearly 50 days.
Stein first met the activists somewhere close to 3 p.m. Standing on the steps just outside of City Hall's public entrance on Main Street, Stein spoke for several minutes with a woman named Lisa Simpson. Simpson is mother to a teenager named Richard Rishner, who was shot and killed by LAPD officers in Watts Nickerson Garden Housing project on July 25. Simpson explained to Stein how, since her son's death, she has attended each police commission meeting and dogged the department for a sound explanation.
Yet she has heard nothing from the department, a point echoed by several of the other activists surrounding who joined Simpson who added details for similar cases.
The narrative is familiar: a black or brown person is shot or killed during an officer involved shooting; the official, police version of events justifying deadly force differs partly from eyewitness testimony; a police commission inquiry determines that, yes, the involved officers acted within department policy when they used deadly force.
For that reason, the activists outside of City Hall are calling for the resignation (or firing) of LAPD Charlie Beck. Their argument follows simply that if officers who use deadly force are continually found to have acted within department policy, then department policy must change. The removal of Chief Beck, activists argue, would be a meaningful first step.
Stein and a small team of her staffers informally hung around City Hall until about 3:30 p.m., at which point members of the media began showing up. The formal event, a live-stream on Stein's Facebook page, began shortly thereafter.
"I'm here to support the demands of the community to fire Chief Beck for overseeing the kinds of tragedies that take place here, like with Richard Rishner," explained Stein to the crowd of 30. "One of the things I've learned here is that over half of the City of L.A.'s budget is spent on this policing—essentially an occupying military force. If those dollars were being spent on quality schools, quality after school programs, on jobs and on enrichment, that would be the real solution to violence and hopelessness in our communities, and the real threats that precent black lives from having a chance from equally mattering."
A woman thrusting up a sign declaring "LAPD Killed 3 Teens In One Month" stood in the slow moving downtown L.A. traffic pointing at drivers and then to the sign, instructing them to 'read it.' A group of European tourists who exited City Hall during the conference looked on for a few minutes before walking away.
As the program concluded, the one of the activists persuaded Stein to accompany her up to the mayor's office inside City Hall.
"We've made it easy for the mayor to meet with us," the woman explained. "We're right here, just outside his workplace. But he doesn't seem to want to meet with us. Maybe with you...?"
Stein obliged. Eighteen or so people followed Stein into City Hall. The LAPD guards quickly issued the appropriate visitor passes to the crowd, and directed them to the appropriate elevators up the floor three. Spread across two elevators, the crowd approached the mayor's office, drawing the lone man staffing the security desk off his seat.
Stein announced her intention—a meeting with Mayor Garcetti—to the man, after which he lifted his desk phone's receiver and explained what was happening to someone else in the office, out of view.
Garcetti's chief of staff, Ana Guerrero, and his communications director, Naomi Seligman, came out after a few minutes, and informed the group that the Mayor was at 'public events.' Stein explained why they were there, and after about five minutes began walking slowly to the elevators back down to the ground floor.