Photo Essay: The Day Black Lives Matter Showed Up At Eric Garcetti's House
Last Tuesday afternoon, thousands of people gathered in Hancock Park outside the home of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for an anti-racism protest quietly organized by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
Helicopters roared overhead but the voices of the protestors could not be silenced as they chanted George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the names of many other Black Americans killed by police. Their two demands: to prosecute the police officers involved in these killings and to defund police departments while reinvesting that money in community resources.
Police officers in riot gear formed a skirmish line at 6th and Irving streets, cutting off access west on 6th Street where more officers waited. At one point, a group of protestors sat down and chanted "I don't see no riot here, why are you in riot gear?" When police left the area before the 6 p.m. curfew, people cheered. The protest remained non-violent.
It was a stark difference from some of the protests the weekend before last, which began peacefully but escalated with heavy police presence and resulted in multiple injuries as demonstrators and journalists were hit with batons, shot with rubber bullets and tear-gassed.
Around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, organizers called an end to the protest. Dozens of people stayed past curfew and continued chanting. A woman led the crowd in yoga and breathwork, an elder in the Black community spoke about the various ways to seek justice and demonstrators sat for a moment of silence.
One activist who spoke emphasized that this was an act of civil disobedience and that people who stayed longer could face arrest.
By my guess, approximately 150 protestors remained and marched through residential streets in Hancock Park, making their way to Wilshire Boulevard where they were met with multiple lines of riot police performing a kettling maneuver.
The crowd split up and turned onto side streets but they were eventually cornered and arrested. I was briefly detained. One protestor cuffed by thick plastic bands, shared that he spent the day dropping off groceries for people before heading to the protest. "Doing it for the people," he explained, as we were marched to the police bus loading area on 8th Street and Crenshaw Boulevard.
While handcuffed and waiting for buses to arrive, the protestors continued chanting George Floyd's name. Before I was loaded onto the bus, a fellow reporter, Lexis-Olivier Ray, was able to show the police my journalism work. At around 10 p.m., I was released. Other people weren't so lucky. More than 100 protestors were detained. Some were taken to the 77th Street Community Police Station in South Central where they were given citations with court dates in the fall.
What I saw that day was a multi-ethnic group of people who were outraged, motivated, and ready for systemic change. They were met by an incredible show of force orchestrated by the LAPD for violating curfew, a curfew that the ACLU challenged as a First Amendment violation and the city dropped. Protestors persisted even while in handcuffs and being loaded on police buses.
To see this level of commitment for Black lives across races and ethnicities felt like a shift. This wasn't a random event and it didn't happen overnight. Protests like these took decades of organizing and activism.
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