Over a period of two weeks, 300 outraged Black Lives Matter Los Angeles (BLMLA) members and supporters have been involved in a sit-in in front of City Hall to demand the following from city mayor Eric Garcetti:
- Fire Chief Beck
- Work in partnership with the Los Angeles City Council to develop a reparations policy
- Hold Police Commission meetings that are open and accessible to the community
- Appoint real community advocates to key Commission seats
- Adhere to the quarterly Town Hall meetings structure with the Black community negotiated in July
BLMLA chanted and held up signs that read “Fire Chief Beck” and “Say Her Name” in reference to 30-year-old Redel Jones who was killed by an on duty LAPD officer Brett Ramirez.
On Tuesday 12 the Los Angeles Police Commission found Officer Ramirez did not violate the Police Commission’s deadly force policy.
“We have been getting a lot of support, that’s really the big thing,” said Organizer for BLMLA Anthony Ratcliff. We believe that in order for these issues to subside, police have to be held accountable. Right now, they are not being held accountable in any situation. So, we are going to continue to stay out here until that accountable is held.”
Cedric the Entertainer, Tina Knowles, Marlon Wayans, Meagan Good and husband Devon Franklin, Jesse Williams, Boris Kodjoe and wife Nicole Parker along with many other Black celebrities made their way over to City Hall to demand mayor Garcetti fire Chief Beck.
The group has also received support from unions.
“We really appreciate that because we know that a lot of times celebrities tend to be disconnected from the political movements but the act that they were all willing to come out and stand behind us and demand that police be held accountable, that was really important,” said Ratcliff.
Around 60 to 70 people a night sleep in the free speech area located across the street from City Hall. Celebrities, allies and members of the community have donated pillows, food and water as a means of support for the activist group.
Although the streets of Downtown Los Angeles are rumored to be dangerous, members of the group do not have any safety concerns.
“I am not worried about my safety at all,” said BLMLA member Tara Perkins. “This is a community of people and we all love one another and we are all going to take care of another. Once you get involved, you become more aware of the things going on in LA, and you start to realize this is a fight you have to fight.”
Aside from food, water and shelter are some of the many obstacles BLMLA protesters are facing. Recently the group was told they cannot sit on the steps in front of City Hall, or set up food or tents near the building.
“They are using laws that were created for vagrancy and homelessness to control our protest and how we how we protest,” said Black Lives Matter Pasadena Organizer Michael Williams. “Now they are saying the area in front of City Hall is private property. They are using ordinances to tell us that we cannot be here for a certain time they have been trying to come up with ways to get us to leave but we have been compliant so far but they are violating our rights to freedom of speech.”
Members of BLMLA believe LAPD’s relationship with the Black community, will continue to be broken until the current system of law enforcement changes.
“This system is built off racism and lies. If you have a police department that was born to oppress, control, and murder Black folks, you have to get rid of that system in order to make a lasting change,” said Williams.
According Ratcliff, the group does not have a set time frame for the sit in.
“We are definitely in it for the long haul. We don’t put any time frames on it, we don’t know. We are going to stay as long as we can we know the city has been making different movements,” said Ratcliff. “Our goal is to have freedom of speech, to hold space and let the city know we are here, to continue to grow in size, to continue to grow in support. Redel Jones is one part, she is one woman.”
Ratcliff goes on to say there can be no peace until there is justice.
“A lot of times people say you should just go home and let the system work itself out but, it hasn’t done that in the past few years and we believe you have to stay here until the system realizes that we are not going to go away because this is extremely important this is life or death issue.”
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