Protesters confront National Guard Vehicle
Protesters confront a National Guard vehicle in Santa Monica on Sunday. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Hundreds of people again hit Southland streets Thursday for protest marches 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, potentially bound for another mass gathering 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.

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 George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Earlier, an estimated 10,000 protesters took to downtown Los Angeles to decry police brutality and condemn Floyd’s death in Minnesota.

Hundreds of protesters initially amassed outside City Hall Wednesday, 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.

Lacey, appearing on ABC7 Wednesday afternoon, insisted her office has not been soft on police. She said the District Attorney’s Office “under my leadership has actually prosecuted more than 20 officers for use of force.”

“I’m the only prosecutor in the state who currently has an officer-involved shooting case filed and pending,” she said. “And so while it may seem like things are not happening, they actually are.”

Additional marches and protests were held Wednesday in Hollywood, West Hollywood and outside Garcetti’s Hancock Park home.

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 held Wednesday afternoon in Newport Beach.

At one Newport Beach march, the driver of a Mini Cooper drove through a crowd of protesters walking in the westbound lanes of Balboa Boulevard around 4:30 p.m., forcing people to move out of the way to avoid being struck. The car struck a woman’s bicycle, but she managed to avoid injury. The car also brushed another bicycle that had an infant strapped into a carrier-seat.

The driver was located a short time later and detained.

At another march, a suspect pulled a gun on a protester near the intersection of 30th Street and Newport Boulevard about 3:20 p.m., police said. The suspect and the protester got into an argument and the suspect pulled a gun from his backpack, then ran from the area, according to police.

Anyone who witnessed the altercation was asked to contact Detective Rick Henry at 949-644-3797 or via email at rhenry@nbpd.org.

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