Black Lives Matter Los Angeles led a massive protest at the home of Mayor Eric Garcetti demanding police reforms and the removal of District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
By Savannah Simmons and Solomon Smith, Staff Reporters
A peaceful protest took place in front of the mayor’s mansion last Tuesday demanding reform in the Los Angeles Police Department and now, change has begun.
Led by the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles chapter, the protest spread by word-of-mouth, texts and messaging apps, but was not posted to social media in an effort to avoid being blocked by authorities. Hundreds of people gathered at Harold Henry Park and listened to speakers including Cal State LA Pan-African American Studies professor and co-founder of BLMLA Dr. Melina Abdoulla, who gave instruction to not talk to the media, keep the peace and stay on message.
“What we’re going to do is begin by calling the names of those whose bodies have been stolen through police violence,” explained Abdoulla, as she poured water on the ground in remembrance.
The initial group marched from the park up Wilshire Boulevard to the Getty House, which is the formal name of the mansion. Chants of “Black lives they matter here,” along with “Jackie Lacey has got to go,” and “we ready, fuck Garcetti” were heard throughout the procession. Upon arrival, protesters were urged to signal boost the protest and get people to join in calling the mayor out in front of his home. Kendrick Sampson, one of the stars from “Insecure,” spoke about his injuries from rubber bullets shot by police in earlier protests, while condemning Garcetti.
“He has acted in favor of the police for too long, while they have been murdering our people, terrorizing our communities and he has not done anything to help,” said Sampson. “He has the nerve to stand by Moore who says protesters have ‘blood on their hands’.”
Although Garcetti never appeared, the message was loud and clear. Protesters called out District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Chief of Police Michel Moore and Garcetti himself for not holding police officers accountable for the killing of unarmed people of color. There have been 829 people killed by police in Los Angeles since 2000. Lacey has long been a target of BLMLA due to her refusal to prosecute officers involved in shootings. Moore’s leadership of the LAPD has been in question and his attitude toward demonstrators has been out of step with the majority of the black community.
“We didn't have protests last night. We had criminal acts,” said Moore in a public statement about the demonstrations prior to the mayor’s mansion protest. “We didn't have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd.”
Law enforcement in riot gear were lined up yards away but allowed the protest to continue unmolested. At one moment, someone said “all white people move to the right, now” and white members of the protest, acting as a human barricade, positioned themselves between the protesters of color and the police. Eventually, the police officers pulled back and most of the block was filled with protesters standing in the intersection while several speakers with bull horns addressed the crowd.
“We don’t see no riot here, why are you in riot gear?” was a chant that was repeated by protesters to the police and as they retreated — cheers erupted through the crowd.
Mayor Garcetti’s budget for the city of Los Angeles was also under attack. The preliminary numbers for the upcoming budget revealed an increase of 7 percent for the LAPD but a few days later Garcetti relented. He and city officials offered a new budget, reducing funds for police by $150 million, according to the L.A. Times, instead shifting those dollars to areas designed to help people of color.
“The movement for racial justice is bigger than a budget, but budgets are a statement of our value,” wrote Garrcetti. “We will be working to identify $250 million for further investments in community programs, including cuts to LAPD’s budget.”
This is the first step toward Black Lives Matter movement’s “The People’s Budget,” proposed budget by BLMLA that calls for a new allocation of funds. It shows Universal Aid and Crisis Management receiving 44.25 percent, Built Environment receiving 25.80 percent, Reimagined Community Safety receiving 24.22 percent and Law Enforcement and Policing receiving 5.72 percent.
“$150 million looks big, until you realize it still leaves the LAPD with 51% of the city’s unrestricted funds. That’s not at all acceptable,” said Abdoulla.
Monday, June 8, is the Budget and Finance Committee meeting, where the L.A. City Council’s first item of business is the “Mayor's Proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-21 Budget for the City of Los Angeles.” BLMLA is calling for a “Twitter Storm” right before that from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. to bring attention to the People’s Budget. Through tweets and emails directed at Garcetti with infographics and hashtags like #DefundthePolice, #CareNotCops and #PeoplesBudgetLA, they are hoping to gain the mayor’s attention.