From the shoreline to downtown and beyond, thousands of Southland residents came out in force again Friday in protest of police brutality and in condemnation of the death of George Floyd while being arrested by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Friday morning, hundreds of people gathered in a line on the coastline sand from the Venice Pier to the Santa Monica Pier in a solemn tribute to Floyd and other victims of violent encounters with police. The crowd chanted “I can’t breathe,” echoing the words that Floyd said repeatedly as his neck was being pinned to the ground by a police officer’s knee for nearly nine minutes on Memorial Day.
The crowd eventually gathered in a march, and then fell silent for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the time Floyd spent pinned to the ground.
Hundreds more people gathered again on the Spring Street steps of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Protesters have gathered outside City Hall, and in front of the nearby Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, on an almost daily basis for the past week, becoming a common gathering point for anti-police-brutality protesters.
More protesters gathered in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Northridge and Santa Monica, all of them held peacefully with no reports of violence or confrontations with police.
In Lakewood, however, deputies used tear gas on a large group of protesters outside Lakewood City Hall sometime before 4 p.m. Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Shaw said an unlawful assembly was declared due to some people in the group allegedly throwing objects at deputies.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Lakewood Mayor Todd Rogers wrote on his Facebook page that “deputies deployed pepper ball rounds and inert smoke adjacent to the suspects they identified as assaultive and it eventually succeeded in dispersing the crowd. One suspect was arrested. I am told that no tear gas was used.”
Rogers also wrote that he was “not reporting from an eyewitness account, as a critical family matter required that I be at another location at the time the incident occurred” and was relying on “information I have been able to piece together.”
Beginning early Friday morning in downtown Los Angeles, a drive-up protest was held, sponsored by Justice L.A. Organizers encouraged residents to drop off roses — both real and paper — at the Hall of Justice, 211 W. Temple St. The demonstration was held in memory of the first person to die from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County jail, the eight people who died in sheriff’s department custody in 2019, the 941 people who died at the hands of police in the county since 2000 and the 12,000 people in Los Angeles County jails.
Hundreds of people also took part in a march from Long Beach City College to Lakewood, where protesters collectively sat in a street, peacefully holding signs and listening to a series of speakers.
About 100 protesters gathered again in Santa Clarita early Friday afternoon, a smaller version of a peaceful gathering that took place in the same location Thursday.
Protests earlier in the week have resulted in hundreds of arrests, largely because of curfews that were imposed countywide and in individual cities. Those curfews, however, ended Thursday, one day after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit calling them a violation of protesters’ First Amendment rights.
L.A. County Supervisors are set to vote Tuesday on a proposal to develop rules for protests, requiring social separation and other actions to protect demonstrators from the coronavirus. The motion by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl directs the Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the sheriff and all other local law enforcement agencies in the county, to develop protocols on measures such as issuing citations, transporting and detaining protesters, using face masks, deciding when to implement physical distancing and when to use tear gas.
“Peaceful assembly is a cherished American right and we need policies and procedures that protect both protesters and law enforcement personnel,” Kuehl said. “During the protests in Los Angeles over the last few days, not all law enforcement personnel were equipped with personal protective equipment. Protesters were detained without face masks and were not always able to maintain physical distancing. We must develop health policies and practices that reduce the risk of infection when people are exercising their First Amendment rights.”
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