Photos: Sunday's Trayvon Martin Protests Shut Down 10 Freeway
By Bethania Palma Markus / Special to LAist
I joined at least 1,000 people gathered at Leimert Park in South Los Angeles Sunday afternoon protesting the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman that shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, last year.
Almost immediately after the verdict was announced Saturday evening, protesters gathered at Leimert Park where they began marching, taking over the streets and at one point stopping the Metro Expo Line. Confrontations with police were reported, and some people were hit with projectiles from bean bag guns.
Indignant marchers gathered again Sunday at Crenshaw and King boulevards around 4 p.m. then headed north on Crenshaw with poster boards and chants demanding justice for Martin. The march was greeted with honking horns and raised fists from passing motorists and onlookers. Protesters briefly halted the Expo Line again before continuing north.
About 200 marchers walked onto the entrance ramp to the eastbound 10 Freeway and blocked traffic at about 6:30 p.m. They were met with riot police, who fired bean bags at protesters. Activists then scrambled up an embankment to escape the encounter. Some people who were struck by the projectiles had bloody marks on their bodies as proof. One woman said a bean bag projectile barely missed her eye. Another, in the early stages of pregnancy, said she also watched one whiz right by her.
At this point, police began splitting the march up into smaller groups. I stayed with a group of about 100 that continued up Crenshaw, while another went back south. Police blocked us just south of Washington Boulevard, so we made our way east through a residential neighborhood. Police blocked us again in a parking lot, but the crowd managed to overcome the police line and run for major thoroughfare Washington Boulevard. A police line blocked the march a third time near west 21st Street, and this time officers fired at least two volleys of bean bag guns into the crowd, prompting panic and sending people running for cover in a nearby neighborhood. Several people were hit with bean bag projectiles at point-blank range. One man was arrested. Another described being hit in the collarbone by a police baton.
We made it through to Washington Boulevard and marched east away from the police blockades. As we went, we were joined by people who came out of apartments and off the sidewalk. A small caravan of cars also joined us in support, shielding us from traffic and helping us cross intersections safely.
We headed north on Western and our numbers slowly grew. Drivers and onlookers showed support with waves, honks, cheers and raised fists. The group chanted slogans like, "Justice for Trayvon Martin," "Police everywhere, justice nowhere" and "No justice, no peace!"
We turned west on Wilshire Boulevard, continued through Koreatown and then went north on La Brea. By this time, police had backed off, choosing to monitor the peaceful march from the sky. Though we'd walked at least 10 miles at this point, we were marching at a fast clip still and chanting energetically.
I left the group at La Brea and Santa Monica Boulevard, but there were still about 50 marching. They held the intersection for a short time, some sitting down in it. They then continued north. According to Gawker, which tracked the march through the night, police blocked marchers from entering Hollywood Boulevard, which led to a confrontation. But protesters succeeded in not only marching on Hollywood, but also taking over the intersection at Hollywood and Highland. The march grew to about 700 people late at night. I didn't know it at the time, but the other groups that were split off from us also continued to march and seemed to converge in Hollywood. Sunday's protests in L.A. came to a peaceful closing just after midnight.
A prayer rally led by community members is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. in Leimert Park.
Photos: Trayvon Martin Protesters, Police Face Off On Hollywood Boulevard [UPDATED]
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Florida Jury: George Zimmerman Not Guilty In Death of Trayvon Martin
Bethania Palma Markus is a former staff reporter for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group. She's also written for OC Weekly and CounterPunch. She wrote about her experience being arrested, jailed and charged with trespassing because of her involvement with the Occupy movement for LAist in 2011.