Tuesday started out as a quiet day on social media, with many activists and supporters of the George Floyd protests declaring a “Blackout Day” to amplify and provide space for black voices by posting black screens on their feeds. The social media blackout was called following the many weekend protests demanding an end to police violence against Black Americans in general and, most recently, the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. In the little more than a week since then, protests have spread to more than 140 cities across the country and the world. (Latest development: the Minnesota Attorney General announced today that all four policers involved in the killing have now been arrested and charged. Only one officer, Derek Chauvin, had initially been arrested, though all four were immediately fired.)
By yesterday afternoon, Windsor Village resident Julie Stromberg alerted the Buzz that people were gathering in Harold Henry Park for a possible protest. According to the New York Times, however, the group in the park were organizers for a protest planned at Mayor Eric Garcetti’s residence nearby in Windsor Square (labeled “Hancock Park” by most media organizations). The Mayor’s residence, known as Getty House, is located at 6th Street and Irving Blvd.
The Times reported:
About 200 protesters were called to a small park in Koreatown [sic] on Tuesday afternoon by the leaders of Black Lives Matter L.A. The plan: Walk the 15 minutes to Getty House, the official residence of Mayor Eric Garcetti, and then fire up social media….
The demonstration outside the gates of the mayor’s mansion quickly swelled to hundreds as word spread around the city, and protesters waving placards streamed down some of the city’s fanciest residential streets, past mansions and manicured lawns.
The location was chosen to highlight the group’s demand that the mayor reduce the police budget. The mayor himself was at City Hall, preparing to give his daily news conference.
Local news, which carried most of the protest live, as well as most neighbors, reported that the large rally was mostly peaceful.
“People were concerned and angry, but also respectful,” Windsor Square resident Caroline Moser told the Buzz. Moser who also serves as president of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council and leader of the Windsor Square Association Block Captains, said a number of neighbors actually joined in the protest. Most people wore masks and cleaned up after they left, removing virtually all the water bottles and snack wrappers. There was even a moment of yoga, according to the LA Times.
Many people left the protest at 6:00 p.m. in compliance with the City’s curfew…but not all. Several hundred attendees remained after the curfew time, and were arrested…along with some people arriving after 6 p.m. in cars, presumably to pick up protestors. The cars were then towed away.
Moser sent a notice out to neighbors this morning, letting residents know that another protest is planned for 3 p.m. today (Wednesday). Moser said that neighbors are still nervous, especially those who are elderly and/or live alone and feel the most vulnerable, along with many who lived through the 1992 riots. She also noted, however, that the significant police presence in the area now, does help to reassure people.
Ironically, however, that the same large police also seems to worry some younger residents, who are not used to seeing so many police vehicles and such a large display of force. For example, helicopters continued to circle the neighborhood for hours last night as police made the post-curfew arrests.
One resident told us that the police asked her if she lived in the area…while she was standing on the lawn of her home. Apparently, the neighbor said, officers were trying to prevent trespassing and property damage. She also speculated that the exchange was polite because she was white and looked like she belonged there, a privilege she was certain would not have been extended to someone who was black.
It has now been widely reported that protest organizers have deliberately chosen affluent, largely white neighborhoods for the events, specifically to help raise the consciousness of white residents and demonstrate what the daily social vulnerability of being black feels like.
“We want to go to places of white affluence so that the pain and outrage that we feel can be put right in their faces,” said Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State L.A., one of the original members of Black Lives Matter-L.A. and one of the city’s most prominent voices advocating against police violence told one of the leaders of Black Lives Matter, to the LA Times.
Meanwhile, following the protests at Getty House, neighbors in Larchmont Village reported seeing several hundred protestors (some walking and some in cars) traveling south on Van Ness Avenue. The protestors began going every which way, sensing they were hemmed in by police in all directions, explained Johnson. The protestors were stopped at Wilton Place.
Larchmont Village resident Keith Johnson told the Buzz that police then began arresting the protestors for violating the curfew. He described the scene as peaceful, with most people cooperating with the officers, who told him they took 150 people into custody. Those arrested were asked to leave their cars, which were eventually towed away. (Johnson also said he heard of one resident who had guests for over for dinner and their car was towed away as well.) The process took several hours, and there was an additional report on social media of a protestor on top of a roof. The last helicopter finally left around 11 p.m.
“I understand the protest,” Johnson said, “but I guess if you’re going to have a curfew, at some point they have to enforce that.” Johnson said he didn’t see any graffiti or vandalism in the neighborhood after the protest, however, and the only litter was a couple of zip tie handcuffs that were left after the curfew arrests.
Over the last few days, local news reports indicate that more than 3,000 protestors have been arrested in LA County, most for violating curfew. Today, LA County officials announced that the curfew (which includes the City of Los Angeles) has now been pushed back to 9 p.m. The LA County Sheriff’s Department announced they will be enforcing the county curfew from 10 p.m. tonight to 5 a.m. tomorrow for all of Los Angeles County.
Finally, on a lighter note, earlier in the day over on Larchmont Blvd., the presence of LAPD officers provided a measure of comfort to anxious businesses that had just started to re-open following the closures required by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurant owner Steve Vernetti shared some photos of officers enjoying Vernetti’s biscotti.
We’ve also received reports that the National Guard was posted on Larchmont earlier this morning. We didn’t see that presence when we stopped by this afternoon, but some shops were open and people were on the Boulevard.