Ferguson Verdict Protests Reach Los Angeles

 

Following the Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the killing of an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, mass protests broke out across the nation on Monday, November 24, 2014. Demonstrations drew large crowds for three nights in downtown Los Angeles before mass arrests successfully diffused the unrest.

All three nights protesters organized at Leimert Park on Crenshaw Blvd and then gradually made their way toward Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. Walking through city streets and often escorted by LAPD motorcycles and patrol cars, they sometimes stopped in the middle of busy intersections and attempted to block congested downtown freeways at rush hour.

Although few arrests were made on Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday’s demonstrations were declared unlawful assemblies and over 300 people were detained and arrested.

Tuesday night began peacefully but turned destructive after protesters congregated outside of LAPD headquarters. A small group broke away and ran towards a U.S. 101 entrance ramp, taking stolen road signs and traffic cones with them. Some even tossed metal signs from a U.S. 101 overpass, severely damaging passing vehicles.

After several minutes of chaos on U.S. 101, California Highway Patrol and LAPD officers finally arrived on the scene, arresting at least one suspect and detaining others. Officers then moved to surround the unrest on the overpass where they corralled protesters and journalists alike.  After ten minutes the officers allowed to the group to leave but ordered them to disperse.

Later, in defiance of the dispersal order, over 100 people began to march through the streets again and refused to disband. LAPD then surrounded those remaining and conducted a mass arrest.

A smaller group gathered on Wednesday and attempted to march to the Staples Center where an LA Lakers game was taking place. LAPD blocked the demonstration from advancing beyond the intersection of Flower and 7th Street.

The protest became disorganized and divided at the Los Angeles Public Library. Half of the group wanted to remain peaceful while the other half wanted to confront officers and go to the Staples Center. During the confusion, LAPD officers announced that the gathering was an unlawful assembly and ordered everyone to disperse. Many did not hear this command or chose to ignore it and ran through to the back alleyway of the library. It was here that LAPD officers surrounded the protesters and made over 100 arrests.