George Floyd

Anti-Police-Brutality Protests Held Across Southern California; 10,000 Gather Downtown

The downtown crowd swelled dramatically within a couple of hours to an estimated 10,000 people packing Civic Center streets.

Frederic J. BROWN/Getty Images

An estimated 10,000 protesters took to downtown Los Angeles Wednesday to decry police brutality and condemn the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Hundreds of protesters initially amassed outside City Hall, but by early afternoon, the crowd moved around the corner to the office of District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Members of Black Lives Matter have been holding weekly protests outside Lacey's office for more than a year, condemning what they see as her failure to prosecute police officers accused of misconduct.

The downtown crowd swelled dramatically within a couple of hours to an estimated 10,000 people packing Civic Center streets.

At noon, hundreds of people gathered at Santa Monica and La Cienega boulevards in West Hollywood for a rally organized by the LGBTQ community in support of Black Lives Matter.

Participants peacefully stood on sidewalks on all four corners of the intersection, holding signs and flags, although the gathering eventually spilled into the street as the crowd swelled to more than 1,000. At one point, hundreds of protesters were seen lying in the street and taking part in several minutes of silence.

The group marched to Robertson Boulevard and back, then later marched again on a circular route through the heart of Hollywood. The group then splintered, with some marching back west into West Hollywood, while hundreds more walked south to Mayor Eric Garcetti's official residence in Hancock Park.

A smaller march and rally was held in La Verne, with about 300 people marching -- joined by city officials and police officers. Another march was held in Downey, with police also keeping a close eye on the activity.

At least two protests were held in Long Beach, along with one in Warner Center.

In Redondo Beach, several dozen protesters peacefully gathered in front of the South Bay Galleria and held up signs and chanted slogans.

A large march was held Wednesday morning in Anaheim, and multiple gatherings were being held Wednesday afternoon in Newport Beach.

There were no immediate reports of any violence or property damage resulting from the protests, which appeared to be carrying on peacefully.

Los Angeles County imposed a curfew Wednesday for the fourth consecutive day. It went into effect at 9 p.m. and will expire at 5 a.m. Thursday. The previous countywide curfews lasted from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Some confusion ensued when a regional cellphone alert message was sent out, saying the county sheriff's department will begin enforcing the curfew at 10 p.m. County officials clarified that the curfew order still takes effect at 9 p.m., and law enforcement agencies can begin enforcing it at their discretion.

Los Angeles also issued a curfew order, which mirrors the county's hours, beginning at 9 p.m. and ending at 5 a.m.

Most cities in the area were also adhering to the county's curfew hours, but Culver City's curfew began at 6 p.m., while Beverly Hills' started at 1 p.m. in the business district and expanded citywide at 4 p.m.

Beverly Hills has announced another curfew that will take effect at 6 p.m. Thursday and continue until 6 a.m. Friday.

Tuesday marches in Hollywood and other areas resulted in dozens of arrests, primarily for participants who failed to disperse or violated curfew. But Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said events are becoming increasingly less volatile.

The sheriff's department and Los Angeles Police Department took some heat Tuesday night from UCLA for using Jackie Robinson Stadium on the Los Angeles Veterans Health Administration grounds as a "field jail" for arrested protesters and breaching anti-coronavirus measures in the process.

"We're troubled by accounts of Jackie Robinson Stadium being used as a 'field jail,'" the university tweeted about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. "This was done without UCLA's knowledge or permission. As lessee of the stadium, we informed local agencies that UCLA will NOT grant permission should there be a request like this in the future."

Faculty members claimed police put protesters arrested in downtown Los Angeles and Westwood on sheriff's department buses and brought them to the stadium, which is also being used as a COVID-19 testing site.

"All protocols of social distancing were violated by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and LAPD with protesters deliberately crowded into buses and officers not following rules and recommendations established by the city, the county, and the CDC, including wearing masks,'' stated a letter signed by 59 members of the UCLA faculty.

"When protesters were taken off the buses, they were subject to processing in the parking lot of the stadium and then released, which meant that they were directed to find their way home late at night (between 1:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m.) from the Jackie Robinson Stadium. Without working cell phones and under conditions of curfew, this was a near impossible task..."

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission Tuesday morning that 2,700 people had been arrested since the protests began last week, the vast majority of them for violating curfew. About 10% of the arrests were for looting. He also said more than 60 LAPD vehicles had been damaged during protests, including some that were burned.

At least another 120 to 150 people were taken into custody on Broadway between Fifth and Fourth streets in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday night and dozens were arrested in the area of Van Ness Avenue and Rosewood Avenue in Hollywood, where some had gone onto an apartment building rooftop in an apparent attempt to avoid police.

Some agitators pushed their way into an apartment building near Broadway and Fifth Street and onto the roof, where they allegedly threw objects at officers on the street.

There were no major reports of violence or looting of the type that occurred over the past several days.

Protests -- all of them peaceful -- took place Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles, near City Hall, in Hollywood and outside Mayor Eric Garcetti's official residence in Hancock Park.

Hours into Tuesday's peaceful protests, the LAPD tweeted, "This afternoon we saw the best of Los Angeles. Thousands of demonstrators marched in solidarity. We will continue to facilitate everyone's First Amendment right to assemble peacefully... we will continue to listen, learn, and grow."

The Los Angeles Times reported that after days of looting and vandalism and a barrage of criticism for failing to stop it, Los Angeles police significantly increased their presence in affected neighborhoods and deployed more aggressive tactics to arrest those responsible for burglarizing businesses.

"When violence escalates, including assaults on officers, arson, widespread looting ... the department needs to resort to a stronger message," Moore told the civilian Police Commission on Tuesday.

Assistant Chief Robert Arcos told The Times, "We are not going to stand for looting. We are doing all we can to make arrests immediately."

The shift in strategy contrasts with what was seen earlier, when officers appeared more focused on controlling movements of large groups of protesters than chasing down looters.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday sent a letter to the city and county of Los Angeles, claiming curfew orders that have been imposed over the past several days exceed their authority and represent a violation of First Amendment rights to free speech.

"... A community's right to protest day or night may not be infringed merely because some people have acted unlawfully in certain areas of the county,'' according to the ACLU letter.

Garcetti on Tuesday night defended the curfews.

"I need to protect all Angelenos," he said. "I need to protect protesters. I need to protect our police officers. And we saw dangerous, dangerous situations that almost resulted in death, and I won't let that happen."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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