Hundreds of people again marched along Southland streets Thursday for protests sparked by the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota and long-simmering anger over instances of police brutality.
The marches, organized largely via social media, followed a day that saw an estimated 10,000 people flood the streets of downtown Los Angeles — by far the largest gathering in more than a week of protests.
Several hundred protesters marched through the streets of Santa Monica Thursday morning in a peaceful procession. Santa Monica was hit hard by protests Sunday, leaving dozens of businesses vandalized and looted as bands of thieves took advantage of the spirited marches.
Thursday’s march proceeded peacefully with no signs of such violence. Authorities across the county have said the vast majority of protesters have conducted themselves peacefully during marches, while blaming criminal activity on roving bands of looters and agitators.
By midday, additional gatherings, rallies and marches were being held on the streets of Hollywood, in Santa Clarita and again at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. Gatherings were also held in Inglewood and Burbank.
In Hollywood, the several hundred protesters walked through the area then began making their way south toward Mayor Eric Garcetti’s official residence in Hancock Park, which has been the scene of gatherings for the past two days. The group stood peacefully outside the home, at one point taking part in an extended moment of silence.
Eventually, the group began walking east toward Koreatown, eventually re-grouping at MacArthur Park before heading downtown.
In the Santa Clarita area, several groups of people began gathering around midday, rallying in the general vicinity of the Westfield Valencia Town Center and along Newhall Ranch Road. Sheriff’s officials reported no troubles with the protests, which were being held peacefully. However, deputies were stationed around the Town Center mall for protection, and a contingent of National Guard troops were brought in as a “proactive” step, sheriff’s officials said.
One 56-year-old man at the protest told ABC7 he was “overjoyed” to see the racially diverse crowd that attended the rally.
“This is wonderful,” he said. “I am impressed, I’m overjoyed, I’m happy. And I hope it continues because this is what needs to happen to make change here in the United States.”
He added, “I want everybody to know: This is not about looting and mobbing and stealing. We are protesting the same thing that everybody wants — the American dream, equality. We want the same rights that everybody else does without discrimination, disparity and distrust.”
Rallies were also held at locations including UCLA’s Royce Hall, Burbank, El Sereno and Montebello.
In downtown Los Angeles, crowds again gathered outside City Hall and in front of LAPD headquarters. At one point, LAPD Chief Michel Moore came out and spoke to people in the crowd, and even dropped to one knee in a show of solidarity with the group.
“I welcome them here,” Moore told NBC4. “I welcome them being peaceful and to the extent of someone looking at whether we bend a knee as to a matter of us seeing each other, we are here to see each other.”
A short time later, Moore was angrily challenged by some in the crowd about a comment he made earlier this week, suggesting that looters were just as responsible for Floyd’s death as the four officers accused of killing him. Moore quickly retracted the statement, saying he misspoke, and apologized. He apologized again to the crowd Thursday, but when he asked, “Will you accept my apology?” multiple people quickly shouted, “No.”
An unknown number of protesters were arrested Wednesday night in various locations, primarily for violating curfew orders, which took effect at 9 p.m. Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles have both announced that no more curfews will be imposed, following a lawsuit filed last Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Los Angeles police declared an unlawful assembly about 10 p.m. Wednesday at Grand Park after protesters refused to leave the area.
At the time the curfew went into effect, residents across the region used cell phones to light up the sky in honor of Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.
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