Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Photos: In A Different Kind of Protest, Hundreds Clean Up South LA Streets

People wipe graffiti from a telephone booth in South Los Angeles during a cleanup and Protest Demonstration. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Before you read this story...
Dear reader, we're asking for your help to keep local reporting available for all. Your financial support keeps stories like this one free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

A demonstration of a different sort took place Friday morning in South Los Angeles. No chanting or signs in sight -- just rakes, brooms and plastic bags.

More than 400 people spread out along Western Avenue between Florence and Manchester, picking up trash and cleaning graffiti as part of a protest action organized by Diamond Jones, who was born and raised in South Central.

"I felt like instead of going to clean up Fairfax and Melrose, we should be cleaning up over here where the actual police brutality, poverty and inequality is happening in the black neighborhoods," Jones said.

Diamond Jones, the organizer of the event, grew up in South L.A. and wanted to use this protest as an opportunity to clean up the neighborhood. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Support for LAist comes from

Jones said she hasn't participated in traditional protest marches around Los Angeles over the past 10 days, but wanted to find a way to channel Angelenos' energy and passion to give back to the local black community.

"I feel like everybody has their own place in what's going on right now, and this is my place," Jones said.

Many in attendance felt the same way, such as Stephanie Conde, who was excited to clean up the community where she was raised.


Get our daily newsletters for the latest on COVID-19 and other top local headlines.

Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Stephanie Conde, who grew up in South Central, passes out trash bags to the participants. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

"I think it speaks louder than just going around yelling with a sign," Conde said. "This is an area nobody pays attention to, it doesn't get as much love as other communities. So, anyone wanting to do anything nice for the area I grew up in, I'm going to be down for that cause."

Some in attendance, such as Tanisha Jackson, said they'd been unable to attend other recent demonstrations because of work.

Support for LAist comes from

"So this is my way of protesting, to come to a community that I know and love and to help clean up, to show everybody that lives here that we matter and we love them."

Protestors clean along Western Avenue in South Los Angeles. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Organizers chose to help beautify this particular stretch of Western Ave. because it's home to many black-owned businesses. Standing outside of his auto detail shop, Carl Croom said he was shocked to see a diverse group of young people cleaning up the neighborhood.

"It's definitely a new day," Croom said. "I'm wondering where did they all come from? It's fabulous. All the people coming together and making it clean. That's what we need on Western Avenue. It's a good neighborhood, but we gotta keep it clean. Do it more often."

As the volunteer cleanup crew moved South towards Manchester Avenue, countless passing cars issued supportive honks. Dozens more business owners and families waved from windows or opened doors to voice their appreciation.

"Very surprising," said Beverly Matthews, who runs the Los Angeles Film Kitchen along Western, a business that provides multimedia training in the community. "I asked everyone what group they were with and they said, 'We're here with L.A., volunteering.'"

Beverly Matthews and Micheal Matthews stand outside their business, Los Angeles Film Kitchen. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Alejandra Cruz stood outside with her mother and siblings.

"We really appreciate what these guys are doing. It's helping the kids understand what was going on," Cruz said. "I'm really surprised how many people are here trying to clean the neighborhood and keep everyone safe. Everybody's looking out for each other, and that's really good."

Alejandra Cruz, her sibling Delilah Cruz, and mother Norma Arroyo watch the cleanup from their apartment building. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

At the end of the cleaning route, participants tossed bags of trash into the back of a garbage truck, and some purchased a meal from local black-owned food trucks. Organizers say the event raised more than $4,000, which will be donated to organizations in South L.A. and Leimert Park.

More Photos From The Clean Up:

More than 400 people showed up to participate in the cleanup and protest. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

People of all ages and from all across Los Angeles came to participate. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Diamond Jones welcomes people and relays the ground rules. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Organizers had a table of cleaning supplies to pass out for those who didn't bring any. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The cleanup gets underway and people begin to disperse along Western Ave. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Participants clean graffiti from walls on Western Ave. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A group of protestors wipe away graffiti. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Teamwork: Most people worked in groups of 3 to 5. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Viola Smith, a 40-year resident of this neighborhood, and the Karn family, were surprised to see people cleaning on their street. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

This family was watching as the cleanup happened. They said that at first, they thought it might be a riot, but when they saw everyone cleaning they came out to express their gratitude. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Protestors pull weeds along Western Ave. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A man sweeps in front of an upholstery store during the protest and cleanup. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Some groups spilled into the side streets along Western Ave. and began cleaning. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A group of protesters walk with their cleaning supplies along Western Ave. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Participants cleaning the windows of a church. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Two participants scrub the sidewalk, trying to remove graffiti. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Participants picked up trash, pulled weeds and cleaned up graffiti. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Local musician Sherriff Drumman showed up and played music for everyone cleaning. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

After the clean-up, everyone congregated at the Ralphs parking lot at the corner of Manchester and Western. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Everyone threw their trash bags into a truck before heading to grab a meal from one of the black-owned food trucks in this Ralphs parking lot. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

People hung out and chatted after the clean up was finished. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A protester shares her cleaning wipes with other participants. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The protest ended near a parking lot with black-owned food trucks where participants could buy a meal. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Participants wait in line for food near Manchester and Western. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)