Thousands of students and others gathered Tuesday in Hollywood to protest for police reform in the wake of last week’s in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
A large police and National Guard presence was on hand monitoring the situation, as the marchers circled blocks in the Hollywood area chanting slogans and carrying signs. Police were blocking entrances to the Hollywood (101) Freeway to prevent protesters from going onto the freeway, as some did Monday on the San Diego (405) Freeway near Wilshire Boulevard.
LA Metro announced that Red and Purple Line trains were skipping the Pershing Square, Civic Center, 7th/Metro, Hollywood/Vine, Hollywood/Western and Hollywood/Highland stations due to the ongoing protests.
Shortly after noon, the gathering had split into two marches of at least several hundred people, both peaceful. One group marched to Las Palmas and turned south, while another group was headed east on Hollywood Boulevard. A heavy police presence was on hand monitoring the situation, as the marchers continued circling blocks in the Hollywood area.
One group eventually made its way to Santa Monica Boulevard. By 1:30 p.m. a few thousand people were marching in Hollywood, with a National Guard contingent staged at Hollywood and Vine Street.
A around 2:30 p.m., police fired flash-bang rounds to disburse protesters at Hollywood and Ivar Avenue, where KTLA5 reported three unspecified arrests.
Elton Vann, who said he lives in the east Hollywood area, came out because he said he wants to see change in police policies.
“This is our neighborhood, you know. We got to show support,” Vann told City News Service. “Of course, I’m a man of color, so it’s something that hit home. So I’m out here showing my support. This is martial law. This affects everybody.”
Vann said the curfew has also affected a broad range of people. Los Angeles County officials extended their 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for another day on Tuesday.
“They’re listening to us. They have no choice but to,” Vann said. “Everything is peaceful today. Everything is peaceful.”
Anna McCall said the behavior of the police during the protests has been “disgusting.”
“Right now, they’re all on the streets, pushing people back for protesting what they did, I mean, come on,” McCall said. “I don’t know how they want us to get our voices heard. We try to protest, but instead they want to throw … gas bombs at (protesters). That’s not all right.”
Kevin Mann said this was his first day joining in the protests and that he was tired of looking at the protests only through news updates on his phone. He said he thinks the looting of businesses is bad but he understands the frustration that’s boiled over.
“You can’t tell people how to be mad, right?” Mann said.
Mateo James said he thinks the Minneapolis police officers involved with Floyd’s arrest should be charged with more serious offenses. He said he wanted former officer Derek Chauvin, who has already been arrested, to face first-degree murder instead of the third-degree murder charge filed by Minnesota prosecutors. The other officers were fired, but have not been arrested.
“I think they’re definitely listening,” James told CNS, adding the protests should remain peaceful to keep the narrative of needed changes intact.
Some of the crowd came out for a noon march organized by 17-year-old Cleo Riley, student body president at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles and the founder of Students For Floyd.
Riley had said she expected students to come from throughout the greater Los Angeles area to gather at noon at Hollywood and Vine for a peaceful demonstration. She said earlier in the day that it was unclear exactly how many people would show up for the protest, while noting that she had heard that rapper YG had posted Monday on Twitter, “LA meet me. Hollywood Boulevard & Vine tomorrow Tuesday 12 noon BLM – George Floyd.”
YG said Tuesday on Twitter that he canceled a protest that was to be held at the same location and the same time at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Avenue, after he was told that “my protest was not safe and that people could get hurt or shot.”
“I’m not trying to get any of my people hurt or shot so I’m gonna cancel today,” the rapper said, pledging to “come back bigger and better on the part of Black Lives Matter.”
Riley — who is wrapping up her last day of school as a junior at Immaculate Heart High — told City News Service that she believes it is “important to show there can be peace.”
She said she formed the group less than a week ago after being unable to find any student-based organizations involved in the issue.
Riley — whose father is white and whose mother is West Indian — said she was “completely disgusted” by the video of Floyd’s arrest and believes people are tired of “not really doing any action.”
The organization has been publicized solely through social media, with posts on Instagram and Twitter, Riley said.
“I hope it brings actual change in our legislative system and our government,” Riley said a few hours before the planned demonstration. “Something actually has to change in our government and our policing systems and our prison systems.”
She noted that her group has also been involved in helping to clean up damage, including graffiti, that was done over the weekend in Los Angeles.
“I really think it’s important to clean up because that’s not the intention behind these protests,” she said, noting that she doesn’t think the people who are “creating the havoc … should be associated with any of the causes.”
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