Photographer Jintak Han has been at the South L.A. sheriff’s station for several days, documenting the demonstrations.
When 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee was pulled over by sheriff’s deputies earlier this month for an unspecified code violation on his bicycle, he fled and was soon shot to death.
Videos captured from multiple angles quickly hit social media, and Angelenos, especially those in the Westmont neighborhood near the 110 and 105, were outraged. Demonstrators marched to the South L.A. sheriff’s station in Lawndale to protest the latest death of a Black man at the hands of law enforcement. These demonstrations have occurred every night since Kizzee’s shooting, leading to bad blood between the citizens and the deputies, as the protests usually end in a shower of teargas, rubber bullets and dozens of arrests.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department claims protesters have attacked deputies with projectiles, including frozen water bottles. The protesters claim the deputies declare an unlawful assembly even if nothing untoward has occurred.
On Sept. 10, Sheriff Alex Villanueva expressed doubt at the marcher’s intentions while standing up for deputies.
“They’re not there to protest,” Villanueva said on Facebook Live. “Come on, let’s knock off any pretense that these people are here to engage in the lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights. They’re not. Their whole goal is to disrupt law enforcement activities. As soon as something starts flying our way, we will respond in kind, and we will declare it an unlawful assembly. And then we’ll take whatever action we need to stop that. That’s it.”
Photographer Jintak Han has been a regular at the protests, documenting the demonstrations and talking with those involved. Here’s a quick look at some of them.
Jordan, volunteer medic:
“It’s been fucking insane. Honestly, I have been protesting since it started, like 100 days ago after George Floyd was murdered and it’s just gotten progressively worse. After they murdered Dijon, they’ve just been coming with full force.”
Junior, her fiance, and also a medical volunteer:
To me, it seems like they are trying to stop protesters by brutalizing so much. It’s like Portland, they’re just coming out with an iron fist real quick.
Sunday, they called it after just five minutes. We had just crossed the street, and they said, “unlawful assembly!” They’re trying to scare people to just get it done. Honestly, I want to be here to help people. I believe in the fight, and I want to be here and fight for what’s right. And if anyone gets hurt, I can help them.
Same here. I am here to help people. Yesterday, when I saw everyone get beat, I don’t want to see that happening. I’m not anyone special, but I will do anything I can to help.
It’s a little worrying because you can see they are targeting medics and other activists. But if they arrest me, I will be right back here again the next day as soon as I get released, protesting again.
The more they shoot us, the more we will keep coming back. The more they tear gas us, the more we will come with gas masks. The more they shoot us with rubber bullets, we will come back with shields and armor.
For the most part, I have just seen people get teargassed. I haven’t seen anyone get hit in the head except for the guy the other day. I know an activist who got hit the other day like 10 times. And another activist two days ago was completely shot up in the groin area really bad.
It’s hard to see. It’s not something I’m really used to. Seeing it out here is scary. The other day we were getting teargassed and we got separated and it was traumatizing.
You listen to Black voices because we can’t change out of our bodies at the end of the day. Remember that. When we march here, we think about our community because it’s our community. We’re not going back to the Valley, we’re not going back to downtown, it’s our goddamn community we are fighting for.
Ignore the divisive behavior. If you see people engaged in divisive behavior by people who are trying to deter the movement, you ignore it, and you listen to a Black voice.
If you care about Black lives, keep marching with us.
Goward Darcell Horton II, security guard and preacher:
Man, I believe the Holy Spirit brought me out here today. I believe if you’re going to be a minister of Jesus Christ, you have to be out in the highways and byways. You have to represent Christ in your actions. You can’t just speak behind the pulpit. You have to be out with the people.
I came straight here from my job because I want to tell them that justice matters. It matters to everyone out here. I work a 9-to-5 like everyone else. He didn’t make it to the earlier protest yesterday because he has a newborn at home, but I just felt like God said, “Go there.”
I didn’t know what I was going to be walking into. But I believe God is going to protect me. And I believed I was going to go down there and show them love. Somebody has to be a light in this situation. I want to show people that we can fight for justice but not be in it for revenge.
I don’t have any gear, any guns. My gear is the Holy Spirit and the angels.
They just handled it very poorly. They murdered him, basically. Straight out murdered him. There was no reason for them to do that. They could have used rubber bullets … this continuum of murder has to stop.
Jersey, Black Unity organizer:
We’re going to keep going. The police don’t want us to keep going, but we’re not going to stop.