On Sunday, video footage of officers from the Los Angeles Police Department violently clashing with protesters outside of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home was shared to Twitter, causing yet another wave of wave of accusations that the LAPD is perpetuating police brutality.
In one video shared by reporter Josie Huang, police officers donning riot gear and face shields could be seen beating people with batons multiple times and pushing people into each other and onto the ground. One man attempted to shield himself with his protest sign as he was beaten by an officer and another held her water bottle in front of her as the same officer made a motion to swing at her next. Other officers were seen holding their arms out in front of protesters and keeping their hands on their guns. In another video shared by the People’s City Council - Los Angeles, LAPD officers are seen putting on their riot gear; walking directly into the crowd of protesters, who can be heard chanting off camera; and beginning to forcefully shove people as others film the confrontation.
Protestors have been gathering peacefully outside of Garcetti’s home over the last 13 days during what’s been dubbed the “Block Garcetti” protests. Over the course of the demonstrations, they have been chanting in both large and small non-violent groups in opposition of the mayor's historically dangerous track record. Garcetti, who was a co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s election campaign, has been rumored to be a possible addition to the incoming president’s cabinet. His track record as L.A.’s mayor, however, hasn’t earned him much support from Angelenos; his cuts to the city’s transportation bus service, increase in fare, approach to issues like homelessness and allegations of anti-Black policing gave rise to the Block Garcetti protests almost two weeks ago.
But beyond that, the LAPD's violent descent onto the Block Garcetti protests come after months of anti-police brutality demonstrations throughout Los Angeles. In June, 50,000 people marched in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Despite the overwhelmingly peaceful gatherings, members of the National Guard and the LAPD were still present. Another anti-police brutality protest was held at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles following the August shooting of Jacob Blake; there, protesters were met with wire separating them from LA County deputies. Then, the September shooting death of Dijon Kizzee in South Los Angeles over a bicycle code violation sparked further anti-brutality protests.
Local politicians quickly condemned the LAPD for their violence — particularly in what was meant to be weeks of peaceful demonstration in front of Garcetti's home. Incoming Los Angeles City Council member Nithya Raman tweeted on Sunday, “Today, protesters outside the Mayor’s residence were struck with batons. [...] There is no acceptable justification for LAPD to use force against Angelenos who are peacefully exercising their right to free speech.”
“In regards to @lapd response at Getty House today: Peaceful protestors deserve the space and protections to make their voices heard. Anything short of that is NOT acceptable. No exceptions. No excuses,” Congressman Jimmy Gomez tweeted. Assemblymember Miguel Santiago also weighed in, demanding the release of a local organizer who was arrested, saying, “LAPD’s brutal actions this morning are unacceptable and must be denounced by everyone.”
So far, only one protestor was reportedly arrested during the police confrontation, though it remains to be seen if others may be charged later on. In a statement to Refinery29, an LAPD spokesperson said that protestors were in "violation" of coming too close to Garcetti's home and received multiple warnings at the time of the confrontation. "The crowd's physical response against the officers resulted in an 'Officer Needs Help' call and an Unlawful Assembly was declared." The LAPD did not comment on allegations of police brutality and why other protestors were beaten with batons at the time of one attempted arrest.