Activists, City Officials Call for Peaceful Protests After Vigil Turns Violent

Monday night's violent protest in LA spurred calls for calmer demonstrations Tuesday

Efforts by activists and police to keep Tuesday's protests in Los Angeles peaceful appeared to pay off on Tuesday, a day after a violent mob attacked people and vandalized businesses.

Protests at Los Angeles City Hall and Leimert Park were nonviolent and resulted in no arrests, authorities said.

Ahead of Tuesday's protests, activists handed out flyers and talking to residents, encouraging potential protestors to not repeat the actions of Monday night, which saw 14 demonstrators get arrested due to failing to disperse or vandalism.

"We should not allow this case to tear at the fabric of our community," said LA City Council President Herb Wesson in a statement. "We have room for passion and protest. However, there is no room for violence."

The demonstrations came after a jury found 29-year-old George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of 17-year-old Martin, in a Sanford, Fla., gated community.

The case fueled a national debate about race, guns and Florida's "stand-your-ground" law, which broadens the definition of self-defense and the legal scope of the use of firearms in exercising it.

Since the verdict was announced on the evening of Saturday, July 13, protests flared up in cities across the country.

At a news conference at Dorsey High School Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck urged calm.

Beck promised to protect protesters' First Amendment rights, but not at the expense of community safety. He said he preferred his officers make no arrests on Tuesday night, but said they would not tolerate lawbreakers. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";}

"You come here again tonight, you will go to jail," he said.

“Your actions will reduce the power of the message from this community, and that is wrong. That is a shameful act,” Beck added.

Garcetti noted that while the Zimmerman verdict may have sparked passionated reactions nationwide, it would not "ignite this city."

"We are calling on people to practice peace, to not let the dialogue sparked by Martin's death be silenced by any violence," he said.

Meanwhile, on Crenshaw Boulevard, Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable said he and others were giving out flyers to warn protesters that people will be looking out for troublemakers Tuesday night.

“We’re going to have community peace monitors on the street at sundown tonight,” Hutchinson said. “We’re not going to see a repeat of what we saw last night.”

The activists credited police for how the violence was handled on Monday night.

“The LAPD could have overreacted. They could have waded in and started doing some violent things, which would have been a disaster because that would have escalated things,” Hutchinson said. “By exercising some restraint, we take our hats off to them.”

Beck, meanwhile, reiterated his stance of cracking down harder on violent protesters.

On Tuesday morning at a Police Commission meeting, Beck said the department would not tolerate any more violence. Protesters must “stay within the parameters of the law“ if they intent to march again, he said.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo credit: Associated Press

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