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LA protests bring demands to mayor's house, Hall of Justice and City Hall, defeats curfew

By staff |
June 6, 2020
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Protest against police crimes at LA Hall of Justice.
Protest against police crimes at LA Hall of Justice. (Luis Sifuentes)

Los Angeles, CA - Only a week after marches, protests and car caravans demanding justice for George Floyd and victims of the Los Angeles Police Department broke out across Los Angeles, this rebellion has already begun to win concessions from the LA city government. While Mayor Garcetti and the LAPD initially repressed the uprising of Angelenos by instituting a 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, calling in the National Guard, and mass-arresting those struggling in the streets, attempts to stop the momentum of protesters have failed. In particular, actions organized on June 2 and 3 by Black Lives Matter-LA - first at the mansion of Mayor Garcetti and then at the Hall of Justice - have been decisive in the efforts to defund the police and defeat the curfew.

These demonstrations on back-to-back days followed a week of protests that have effectively combined both ‘violence’ and ‘nonviolence,’ exposing the LAPD and Mayor Garcetti’s true faces to the city. As covered by Fight Back!, on Wednesday, May 27, BLM-LA’s weekly protest against Jackie Lacey evolved into a 1000-person march which took over the 101 Freeway. During that action, the California Highway Patrol drove through the crowd, striking one protester.

On Saturday, May 30, BLM-LA held a rally at Pan Pacific Park before marching through Fairfax. Enraged police officers argued with protesters before beating them with their batons, using tear gas and shooting rubber bullets. The same afternoon in Boyle Heights, Centro CSO organized their own rally as part of the National Alliance against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) National Day of Protest, with Chicanos coming out in the hundreds to demand justice for George Floyd and victims of LAPD and LA Sheriffs terror. Every day new actions, both planned and spontaneous, occur across Los Angeles, from Long Beach to Pasadena.

As in Minneapolis and cities around the U.S., protesters have also risen up against police brutality by ‘shopping for free’ at different businesses, especially affluent areas in the West Area. LAPD and the city government have been caught off guard, forcing Los Angeles to put in place a curfew and request backup from the National Guard. LAPD has used the curfew, which disproportionately hurts working people, to arrest more and more protesters, only fueling the city’s anger.

Beyond the repression happening on the ground, Mayor Garcetti’s plan to increase funding to police during this current economic and health crisis created by COVID-19 has infuriated Los Angeles. Garcetti proposed reducing public services and furloughing city workers due to a budget shortfall while siphoning more money to LAPD, which already receives more than half the budget. In response, BLM-LA has pushed a People’s Budget, which will defund the police and prioritize desperately needed public services.

In the late afternoon of June 2, BLM-LA took their demands directly to Mayor Garcetti’s house. An initial group of protesters, including members of Centro CSO, convened at Harold A. Henry Park. After hearing instructions from BLM-LA leaders, protesters marched through the elite neighborhood of Hancock Park, taking over Wilshire Boulevard on their way to a rally outside of Mayor Garcetti’s mansion. Thousands of protesters spontaneously arrived once pictures and videos of the action began popping up on social media. When a swarm of helmeted LAPD officers lined up on the north part of the block, over 100 protesters sat in front to block off their approach. Eventually, police retreated, and protesters chanted "Whose streets? Our streets!"

Throughout the rally, BLM-LA’s organizers, along with families who have lost loved ones to police terror, condemned Mayor Garcetti’s plan to increase funding for LAPD. They also called for Garcetti to fire Chief of Police Michel Moore who said of looters and George Floyd, “His death is on their hands, as much as it is those officers.” The chants “Defund the police,” “Fuck Garcetti,” and “Jackie Lacey must go” rang out over and over again.

The following day, June 3, BLM-LA led another protest outside of the Hall of Justice, a weekly tradition that the organization has maintained for more than two and a half years in order to put pressure on LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. On this occasion, tens of thousands of protesters gathered to demand the prosecution of killer cops and voting out DA Lacey. With the National Guard on the Hall of Justice’s front steps as well as in the streets and surrounding buildings, BLM-LA activists explained how DA Lacey has refused to hold a single cop accountable for any of the 600 killings that have occurred during her term.

BLM-LA introduced thousands of new attendees to a tradition that they follow at every protest, calling out the names from a long list of men and women who have been killed by LAPD in the last few years. Relatives of Grechario Mack, Eric Rivera, Kenneth Ross Jr., and many other victims of police terror described how their loved ones have been killed and Lacey has let off the officers every time. BLM-LA also invited Chicano allies who regularly attend the Jackie Lacey protest to speak as well. German Romero, a member of Centro CSO, spoke about the killing of his 14-year-old son Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights. The sister of Cesar Rodriguez also described how Long Beach police wrestled her brother in front of an oncoming train because he allegedly hadn’t paid for his metro ride.

One of the last speakers, BLM activist Joseph Williams reminded protesters how BLM-LA’s fight against DA Jackie Lacey is nothing new and urged all in attendance to find an organization to continue growing this movement.

“We've been out here in front of Jackie Lacey’s office every week for two and a half years. Every week! Do y’all think that cops would get away with killing our people if all of us showed up like this every week?” asked Williams. “The pain for Eric Rivera and Grechario Mack and all these folks up here, all these families, that shit don’t end. So all of us, we gotta make sure our commitment to this don’t end. We gotta make sure our anger about this shit don’t end.”

As the rally in front of the Hall of Justice concluded, BLM-LA announced that Mayor Garcetti was in fact at city hall. Protesters, who had been sitting so that everyone could see the speakers, rose to their feet and marched the one block so the mayor could hear their demands. Crowding onto the steps of City Hall and Grand Park, protesters chanted, “Rise up! Resist, don’t need no killer cops or jails! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!” and “Fuck your curfew!”

This rebellion has already begun to win reforms from the city government only one week after its emergence. Mayor Garcetti has announced that he will scrap his proposed budget and actually cut $250 million that he had intended to hand over to LAPD. Instead, Garcetti has said this money will go toward education, health and jobs in Black communities as well as other initiatives. While the National Guard remains on the streets, protests have forced the city of Los Angeles to lift the curfew.

As the week-by-week growth of BLM-LA’s Jackie Lacey Must Go protest has shown, conditions in Los Angeles are changing rapidly. Mayor Garcetti and the city council’s change of heart on the budget vote indicates that the uprising has scared the Los Angeles elite. The people must continue taking to the streets to demand justice for all victims of police terror.