Peaceful protests continue into weekend around California
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Protesters marched, paddled, cycled and even staged “die-ins” as outrage over the death of George Floyd expressed itself in peaceful but colorful ways around California.
Crowds ranging from hundreds to thousands thronged the streets Friday in downtown Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco and smaller communities. More protests were planned Saturday, including a march across the Golden Gate Bridge.
“I hear them saying all lives matter, but right now, it’s our lives that are chalk lines on the ground,” one woman who took part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Riverside told KABC-TV. “We just ask can we be taken into custody, instead of the morgue.”
In recent days the demonstrations have been boisterous but non-violent, in contrast to last weekend when a minority of protesters smashed windows, burned police cars and confronted cordons of riot-clad police who fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Gone, too, was most of the looting that ransacked dozens of stores and which authorities say appeared mainly to be the work of non-protesters.
Cities and counties have begun easing or ending curfews that resulted in the arrests of thousands of demonstrators and on Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged local authorities to end reliance on thousands of California National Guard troops who were deployed to major cities, saying “conditions have changed for the positive.”
He suggested they could be redeployed to food banks that are helping people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Los Angeles, thousands of flowers were placed on the sidewalk outside the county Hall of Justice after people were asked to bring roses symbolizing people they believe were victims of state violence. At City Hall, demonstrators chanted “no more names” and sang “Happy Birthday” on the 27th birthday of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot and killed in her home by police in Kentucky earlier this year.
Davonté Pinson, 26, was in the City Hall crowd.
“I think it’s going to keep getting bigger,” he told the Daily News of Los Angeles about the protests. “It’s going to keep going until people are happy.”
Protesters staged a bicycle caravan in San Francisco and surfers held a traditional paddle-out in waters off the Los Angeles County shoreline.
In the state capitol of Sacramento, demonstrators held “die-ins,” lying down in the street for nearly nine minutes to represent the amount of time that a white Minneapolis police officer pinned Floyd to the ground with a knee to his neck. One event was held blocks from the home of Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who called it “a powerful and necessary expression of the anger and demand for greater change in our city and in our country.”
Other lawmakers also took their themes from protest demands for police reform and racial justice.
Newsom ordered the state’s police training program to stop teaching officers how to use the carotid restraint or sleeper hold — an arm grip around the throat that blocks blood flow to the brain and can kill if used too long.
“We train techniques on strangleholds that put people’s lives at risk,” Newsom said Friday. “That has no place any longer in 21st-century practices and policing.” The governor also said he would sign a measure introduced in the state Legislature to bar such holds.
Critics have said such restraints are disproportionately used against people of color.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore alluded to the LAPD’s own history of brutality when he spoke to clergy members Friday during a vigil outside police headquarters.
“We have had injustices committed by members of our own organization and that is a hard and hurtful truth,” Moore said.
Demonstrators have previously called for his resignation, saying officers used improper force in breaking up protests.
Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles filed a federal lawsuit on Friday against Moore and the LAPD. The suit alleges that the department violated constitutional rights by arresting more than 2,600 peaceful demonstrators and kept some handcuffed on buses without access to water, food or bathrooms.
The department declined comment.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said videos of apparent excessive force use in the city will be reviewed.
“We have to keep the peace without violence whenever we can,” he said.
In suburban Long Beach, the Police Department on Friday fired an officer for posting what were termed graphic photos on his personal social media account during a violence-marred May 31 demonstration.
A photo posted on Jacob Delgado’s account showed his baton over blood splatter on the sidewalk, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.
Newsom said he wants the Legislature to set standards for crowd control and police use of force in protests.
“Protesters have the right to protest peacefully,” he said. “Protesters have the right to do so without being arrested, gassed, shot at by projectiles.”