Los Angeles activists hosted a candlelight vigil for Daunte Wright in the heart of Hollywood.
By Solomon O. Smith, Political News Editor
Hollywood, CA — On the corner of Sunset and Vine, hundreds of mourners gathered Thursday at 8:30 p.m. to mourn for another black male who had fallen victim to police violence.
“They’re calling it an accidental discharge, but it should never have happened,” said Roxanne, the organizer of the vigil who did not want to give her last name.
Roxanne is a Los Angeles native and, like many in the audience, reticent about providing her name for fear that the police would “tag” her for later harassment. The LAPD were highly visible, lined up on majors street in squads, holding riot gear.
“So, it doesn't seem necessary to have a police presence at a vigil especially, when we have a community in mourning,” said Roxanne.
The vigil itself was somber. Candles and flowers were placed at the fountain in front of the Chase building and the event opened with a song accompanied by the guitar and the recitation of the names of others who had been killed this year by police. Many in the crowd were angry at the death of Daunte Wright and wore air fresheners around their wrists in protest. Wright had been stopped under the pretense of an obstructing object hanging from his rearview mirror; the object was an air freshener.
“This is why we don’t need police on our streets,” said a young woman who wished to remain anonymous.
She, like many others, heard about the event through Instagram. Social media has been one of the main ways protests are organized not only because of the reach they have but the anonymity they provide. Police recorded crowd members at the vigil who were mostly peaceful, singing and listening to speakers.
At the closing, Roxanne advocated calm and suggested attendees go home in pairs for safety. She also asked them to go home and not to march to avoid problems with the police. Even though she made the effort to avoid conflict, it does not mean that she allies herself with police. She made it clear that she does not think that police should “exist” and that they are “not needed” in the community. After a year abroad in Sweden, her views changed on capitalism and community activity.
“It's a public space and you have to keep in mind we're practicing our constitutional rights. We are within our constitutional rights to assemble,” said Roxanne. “So, it doesn't seem necessary to have a police presence at a vigil especially, when we have a community in mourning.”
Although Roxanne advocated peace there were some problems with unassociated members in the crowd. Several fights broke out and at one point and an unidentified white male, accompanied by an Asian woman began to harass the crowd. Some of the protesters broke off and began to march in what seemed like retaliation to the harassment. Police mobilized and began to march alongside them down Vine Street toward Selma, with the harassing couple in the lead.
Wright was killed by a police officer who claimed to have mistakenly drawn her pistol instead of her taser and shot him during a traffic stop. The officer made her first appearance in court on Thursday as vigils, and protests, have been held across the country.