Black Lives Matter supporters disrupted business at Los Angeles City Hall Tuesday afternoon, swarming the downtown government building in a protest that reflected the group’s growing frustration with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.
About 100 people descended upon City Hall after a police panel declined to fault officers in the 2015 shooting of a 30-year-old black woman. Redel Jones was killed in a South L.A. alleyway by police after allegedly failing to drop a knife.
Shouting “Black Lives Matter,” protesters rushed City Hall’s Main Street entrance, but were blocked by police officers, who physically held the doors shut. Settling in on the building’s steps for the next several hours, protesters blasted N.W.A.’s song “F-ck the Police,” drew on the sidewalk with chalk, and burned sage as they called for the mayor and Beck to stop the killing of black men by police.
“We need immediate action,” said BLM-LA member Kwazi Nkruma. “We’ve gotten no action except disrespect.”
The City Hall sit-in came less than an hour after the five-member Los Angeles Police Commission ruled that officers followed police protocol in Jones’ shooting. Police say she robbed a drug store and then refused to drop a knife when confronted by officers.
However, a witness told the Los Angeles Times that she saw the shooting in the side-view mirror of her car. Courtyana Franklin told the paper Jones was running away from officers when she was shot, not advancing toward them.
The commission ruled Tuesday the shooting didn’t violate department policy, although the panel questioned some of the officers’ tactics.
Joining protesters outside City Hall after the commission hearing, Jones’ husband Marcus Vaughn told reporters his two children, ages 7 and 13, cry at night for their mother. “My children are still in pain, and today, they’re in more pain,” he said. Jones’ family is also suing the city over her death.
Tuesday’s City Hall rally came amid a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the country following the shooting deaths of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minn. and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. by police. Heightening tensions for police, five officers were killed in Dallas by a man aligned with Black Power groups.
Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles protesters want Beck removed, and have spent the last year disrupting police commission meetings, actions that have eroded relations with the police chief and mayor.
Beck voiced frustration with BLM protesters at Tuesday’s police commission meeting, saying the group doesn’t want to dialogue with police, according to radio station KPCC. Beck also told the panel he’s scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C. with Garcetti to meet with President Obama to discuss policing.
The City Hall protest shut down several building entrances and prompted at least two street closures. Lobbyists, tourists, and others were unable to enter the government building, prompting frustration for some.
A tube of blueprints tucked under his arm, Redondo Beach developer Rein Kuhr said he was missing a Planning Department appointment. He chastised BLM protesters, saying they should sit down with police, rather than shut down buildings.
“I think we would all be better served if they’d sit down and resolve these issues,” Kuhr said.
Garcetti spent Tuesday afternoon at City Hall meeting with local leaders about policing, said activist Najee Ali, who attended the gathering.
A Garcetti spokesman said he could provide no information about the meeting.
An earlier BLM rally in the day outside LAPD headquarters drew about 500 people, a peaceful event that saw many first-time protesters come out.
Holding a sign that said, “Asians Support Black Lives,” Connie Shin, 31, said she wants the black community to know other minorities support BLM’s cause.
“It’s not about being anti-police, but being anti-apathy,” Shin said.