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Over the past two weeks, activists have assembled daily outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home in Hancock Park to protest a possible appointment to President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet. Though this morning’s protest was peaceful, Sunday’s demonstration saw a violent clash between police and protesters, as well as one arrest.
After rumors surfaced that Garcetti and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel were in the running for the position of Transportation Secretary, local activists, including members of Black Lives Matter L.A., began using the hashtag #BlockGarcetti to keep the L.A. politician out of D.C. The mayor’s opponents cite his record on vital issues, including homelessness and policing, as well as L.A.’s own transportation woes.
“[Protesters] made a very good case that our city’s transportation agenda has left people behind,” said Alissa Walker, urbanism editor at Curbed, in an interview with KCRW.
She pointed out that the city’s rail projects typically serve wealthy, white communities, while bus riders have essentially been ignored.
For several days, protesters were able to hold peaceful assemblies in front of the Getty House — located at 605 S. Irving Blvd. — which serves as the mayor’s official residence. They wore masks, maintained social distance and were occasionally accompanied by a friendly orange cat named Sven. But on Sunday, things got violent.
The Los Angeles Police Department claims officers attempted to arrest a protester who was using a bullhorn, which violates an L.A. municipal code against making noise that carries more than 200 feet. LAPD spokesperson Capt. Stacy Spell told the L.A. Times that the individual was warned four times before officers moved to arrest them, at which point “the crowd moved in on the officers, punching, pushing, and kicking” in an alleged attempt to thwart the arrest. Video footage of the incident shows officers using batons on the crowd.
Jamie Penn, a member of the Wilshire-Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, was not the person allegedly using the bullhorn, but she was arrested on suspicion of “lynching.” This is kind of a confusing term to hear police use because it’s more commonly meant to mean an execution without a fair trial. But in this case, it’s an outdated term that means attempting to remove someone from police custody. In 2015, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that removed the term from state law.
In this video from LA Focus News, an officer attempts to explain the arrest — though he calls it an attempted citation — using the term “lynching.” The explanation is juxtaposed with footage of the incident and interviews with children who witnessed it.
Penn has said she wasn’t trying to remove anyone from custody. She said she was trying to protect another protester from being trampled by the crowd. Penn took to Twitter to announce her release yesterday afternoon and asked people to return to Garcetti’s house the next morning at 9 a.m. to resume the protest. Here’s Penn in her own words.
Later that same evening, people gathered at the Getty House to protest stay-at-home orders, though it’s not clear why, as the current orders are set by the state and county, not city officials. Reporter Emily Holshouser noted there was very little police presence at the nighttime rally.
The LAPD says it will review video footage from Sunday. Of course, they’re still reviewing dozens of videos from protests in late May and early June in which officers are seen striking protesters with batons and hitting them in the face with foam rounds.
Several state and local officials have criticized the LAPD’s behavior on Sunday, including Councilman Mike Bonin, Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago and Wendy Carrillo and Councilmember-elect Nithya Raman. Raman will represent District 4, which is where the Getty House is located.
Protesters resumed again this morning at 9 a.m., once again peaceful and with few officers present.
Despite ongoing protests, Biden chose the embattled L.A. mayor for the Presidential Inaugural Committee this morning.