Thousands of protesters marched through downtown Los Angeles Sunday, ostensibly protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and ended up massing in front of the City Hall steps on Spring Street.
About 5 p.m., those demonstrators were met by a line of National Guardsmen and Los Angeles police who positioned themselves in front of the steps to protect City Hall. Multiple military Humvies lined First Street along side City Hall.
The crowd which had initially gathered at downtown’s Pershing Square, not far from where National Guard units were staging at the Convention Center, remained peaceful but confrontational with authorities.
Periodically, demonstrators yelled chants at the guard and LAPD that included, “I can’t breathe,” “No justice, no peace,” “Black lives matter” and “George Floyd, George Floyd.”
Early on, some of the demonstrators went to their knees in front of the troops and police holding their hands up, yelling “Don’t shoot,” the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
“I want justice for anybody who’s been hurt by police,” 27-year-old Blossom Baptist told the newspaper. “I want them to understand it’s not their right to kill us, they are supposed to protect us.”
Those demonstrators appeared to angrily verbally confront the guardsmen, according to media reports from the scene. Around 6:30 p.m. the demonstrators shifted their position about 200 feet to more actively confront the guardsmen.
About 7:30 p.m., the LAPD began setting up a picket line and moving protesters north on Spring as they began to disperse the crowd.
Meanwhile, a countywide curfew was issued Sunday in Los Angeles from 6 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Monday, as new violence and looting broke out in Santa Monica following what was ostensibly a demonstration against the police killing.
National Guard troops arrived early Sunday in downtown L.A. to help restore order after a weekend of sometimes violent protests and looting.
Exceptions to the curfew were being made for first responders, people going to and from work, and anyone seeking or giving emergency care. All others risked possible arrest if on the streets during the curfew, and some people were in fact arrested.
Santa Monica officials imposed a curfew from 4 p.m. Sunday through 5:30 a.m. Monday. A few hundred people started marching down Ocean Boulevard around noon Sunday, many holding signs protesting the killing of Floyd. That march was peaceful, but a short time later, looting was reported at several stores in Santa Monica Place shopping center and on nearby Fourth Street, and news footage showed many people carrying merchandise and running out of stores that had been broken into.
The city’s police department urged the public to avoid downtown, and LAPD units were assisting Santa Monica police.
The Santa Monica (10) Freeway was shut down near its western edge around 2 p.m., backing up traffic to the San Diego (405) Freeway.
As far as the downtown protesters are concerned, their massing at Pershing Square prompted Metro to shut down train service at the Pershing Square station.
An LAPD cruiser was spotted by ABC7 cameras driving into a crowd of demonstrators at Pershing Square, hitting two of them, then backing up and accelerating away from the scene as several protesters were seen throwing objects at the vehicle and others helped the two downed protesters back on their feet.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he hopes the deployment of the National Guard to Los Angeles will be a “very short visit,” but there is no fixed timeline.
Roughly 1,000 guard personnel were deployed after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday for all of Los Angeles County.
Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger announced Sunday that she has proclaimed a state of emergency as well, which will facilitate interagency response coordination and mutual aid, accelerate the procurement of vital supplies and enable future state and federal reimbursement of costs incurred by the county.
“This emergency comes as we are in the midst of battling another emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This taxes our resources, but not our resolve,” Barger said. “We will do everything in our power to keep our communities safe and protect lives and property. I continue to call on our residents to maintain calm and seek solutions productively, not destructively.”
A handful of candlelight vigils and other actions in memory of Floyd were held Sunday, including a 3 p.m. protest at Long Beach Police Headquarters and vigils in Compton at 6:30 p.m and Pasadena at 7 p.m.
Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore praised the restraint of the city’s police force, although Moore acknowledged he saw a few instances of improper techniques as police tried to control the sometimes unruly crowds. Moore said he has been handing out business card to demonstrators who complained about police conduct over the weekend. The chief said the department will take complaints from anyone who has an accusation of excessive force or unlawful arrests by the LAPD.
The mayor said a small number of COVID-19 testing sites may not open Monday because workers do not feel safe reporting to those locations, but the city’s largest site, at Dodger Stadium, will remain open. Also scheduled to reopen is Kedren Community Health Center at 4211 S. Avalon Blvd.
Garcetti also appealed for demonstrators to remember that the coronavirus pandemic still presents a serious threat.
“The folks that are out there on these streets should not be a victim of this virus because we’re not practicing social distancing,” he said.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: