Thousands of people gathered at more than a dozen demonstrations around Los Angeles on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police.
In downtown Los Angeles, there was a growing crowd in front of City Hall and a smaller group in front of the Los Angeles Police Department by Saturday afternoon.
Across the way at Grand Park, a small memorial to Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others was marked on the ground by a cross and bouquets of flowers. Taylor was shot by police in her Louisville, Ky., apartment. Arbery was chased down and shot by two white men in Georgia.
Andrea Gonzalez brought her mother, husband and three children to City Hall on Saturday afternoon. It was the first ever demonstration for her children, ages 4, 6 and 7.
“We brought them out here because it’s important to show them why we respect all human lives and that even though we are brown, we support black lives,” she said.
Gonzalez’s mom, Micaela Ruiz, said she remembers the 1992 L.A. riots vividly and has experienced discrimination as a Latina firsthand. She said she fought for her own children, who had been discriminated against while growing up, recalling a teacher who would not allow her daughter enter the classroom until all the white students were seated first.
She hopes that the expression of outrage will lead to change. It’s one reason she felt compelled to protest in solidarity Saturday.
“Silence is acceptance,” she said.
The family traveled to Los Angeles from San Dimas.
Gonzalez believes that one reason the current protests seem different from past demonstrations is the rhetoric that has come from President Trump, which she believes has further fueled racial tensions.
“I get so angry and disgusted by his words — this is what his words have created,” she said.
A group of about 50 nurses and healthcare workers from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, USC Keck Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Kaiser Permanente joined the protest in front of City Hall after months of working round-the-clock to help patients affected by the coronavirus.
“We left the front lines to come here. We felt a lot of anger and as patients advocates, we felt we needed to speak up about the injustice,” Kannitha Lor, 25, said.
Black communities have been hit especially hard by the virus — a major reason they joined in the demonstration, they said.
“Racism is a public health crisis,” said Delilah Garcia, 24, noting the disproportionate number of black patients she sees in comparison to other races. “Enough is enough.”
Wearing face masks, in accordance with coronavirus restrictions, and scrubs and holding signs that read “Nurses for Black Lives Matter” and “If someone says they can’t breathe, you help them,” they offered hand sanitizer to other protesters and were prepared to offer medical assistance if needed.
In Carson, dozens of peaceful protesters, led by City Councilman Jawane Hilton, marched to City Hall to chants of “Police the police” and “Get your knee off my neck.” One woman shouted, “Mama, I can’t breathe,” a reference to Floyd’s final words.
“Our demand is simple: that they stop killing us,” Hilton said. At one point the crowd took a knee and held a moment of silence for Floyd.
Debra Williams, 55, of Los Angeles, said the Carson event was the first protest she had ever attended. “You get angry about situations that happen, and you keep seeing it, and you keep seeing it, and you keep seeing it, and then it’s like: OK, now I’ve got to do something,” she said.
Williams, who works for law enforcement, drove about 20 minutes from L.A. to attend the event with a coworker.
She said she’d had enough of systemic racism and social injustice.
“They’ve had their knee on our neck for over 400 years and we’re over the oppression,” Williams said. “Without us, America would not be built.”
“It’s time for a change,” said William Collins, a 36-year-old black man from Carson who was marching with his sister. Her sign read: “You can’t put a curfew on peace.”
Collins said he was was at only the second protest he’d ever attended in his life because he wanted a better future for his daughter and nephew. “This one is hitting real close to home,” he said.
Hundreds of students, faculty and residents from the surrounding neighborhood gathered for a peaceful demonstration on the USC campus. Several speakers addressed the crowd about Floyd’s death and the issue of police brutality.
At City Hall. protesters heard from pastors, members of the community and elected officials, including Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-San Pedro).
“We need action now,” Barragán told the crowd. “And we need to stop killing black Americans and we need to hold … our police accountable when it is done.”
She led the assembled group in reciting the names of Floyd, Taylor and Eric Garner, who died after police put him in a chokehold in New York in 2014.
“Let’s keep it going and let’s not stop until we see action, because we’re tired of just words,” Barragán said.
In Hollywood, a diverse group gathered at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. Hundreds of people of all colors filled the intersection, some hanging out of their car windows and popping their heads through their sunroofs as they chanted George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery’s names.
Tina Pruitt, 57, brought her young grandsons to the protest because they’d be eager to attend. Myels, 11, prompted the drive to Hollywood after seeing protests pop up across the country all week. As they drove over, Pruitt told her grandsons that they were going to the demonstration so the next generation of black Americans could have a better relationship with the police.
“I don’t want them to have to have the talk with their kids like black mothers have to today,” Pruitt said. “With all the protests I’ve seen in the past, this is different. This is making a change.”
Pruitt noted that she’s seen more intersectionality in these protests than demonstrations in years past.
Standing next to her on the street, Myels said he wanted to know how it felt to protest.
“I think it’s made a change for me,” he said. “I want cops to stop killing black people for no reason. I felt mad and sad that a lot of Black people lost their lives.”
His brother TJ, 15, said he was gad to see the protest was peaceful and non-violent. He said he would continue to protest in the future.
“I want to make it easier for people to feel safe,” he said, holding a sign that said “black lives matter.”
“I don’t want them to have to worry when they go outside,” Pruitt chimed in. “I need for me to feel safe. I was scared when my son went to school on the bus that he wouldn’t come home.”
About 12:30 p.m., the crowd began to march down Sunset, heading west. They held signs over their head that read “Black Lives Matter,” “no justice no peace no racist police,” and “Trump/Pence ¡fuera ya!”
A white TESLA was parked in the middle of the street giving out water and food.
At the intersection of Highland and Sunset, the marchers stopped to kneel. As they knelt, the crowd chanted “Trump Pence out now!”
Jose Lagunas has been protesting for two decades, so he knows what gets attention at marches. Which is why, along with his wife, he brought another special guest to the gathering at Hollywood and Vine: Trump’s head on a stick. He bought the rubber mask of Trump a couple of years ago, hopeful that carrying it would inspire passerby to take photos and spread the word about the causes he was showing up for.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that stuff like this gets good attention and spreads the message,” said the 34-year-old Lincoln Heights resident, who has been to four protests over the last week.
Lagunas, who was born in Mexico City but remained “undocumented from age three to twenty, said he’s noticed the demonstrations becoming increasing peaceful since he first came out to support black lives at the Fairfax and Third protest last weekend.
“I think we have to keep going until as many demands as possible are met,” he said, noting he was now speaking out about defunding the police and putting government funding towards communities of color. “Yes, I think Trump should be out. But even if Biden is elected, we need to hold his feet to the fire. He’s not our savior. We’re our savior.”
Protests were also scheduled to take place on Saturday in San Pedro, Torrance, West Los Angeles, Westmont, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana and other locals around Southern California.
The post Thousands turn out for peaceful demonstrations on Saturday around Los Angeles appeared first on Los Angeles Times.