Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2014

Currently: 61° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

L.A. to deploy more police to prevent disturbances in wake of Zimmerman verdict

Image

Jae C. Hong / AP

A protester confronts a Los Angles police officer during a demonstration in reaction to the acquittal of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on Monday, July 15, 2013, in Los Angeles. Anger over the acquittal of a U.S. neighborhood watch volunteer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager continued Monday, with civil rights leaders saying mostly peaceful protests will continue this weekend with vigils in dozens of cities.

Updated Tuesday, July 16, 2013 | 5 p.m.

Zimmerman Trial Reaction

A protester stomps on a van during a demonstration in reaction to the acquittal of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on Monday, July 15, 2013, in Los Angeles. Anger over the acquittal of a U.S. neighborhood watch volunteer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager continued Monday, with civil rights leaders saying mostly peaceful protests will continue this weekend with vigils in dozens of cities. Launch slideshow »

LOS ANGELES — After a spate of vandalism and violence, Los Angeles police vowed Tuesday to crack down with quick action and arrests if further disturbances arise from street protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of a black Florida teenager.

Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti, who took office barely two weeks ago, said peaceful protests are welcome but violence won't be tolerated. Beck vowed that anyone committing violence will be arrested.

"Your actions ... will reduce the power of the message of this community and that is wrong, that is a shameful act," he said.

Los Angeles and Oakland have been flashpoints for violent reactions to Saturday's acquittal of Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin.

In the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, 14 people were arrested Monday night after about 150 people split from a peaceful demonstration at a park, running through the streets, jumping on cars, trying to break store windows and punching bystanders. A Wal-Mart store was vandalized.

A reporter and photographer for Los Angeles TV stations KCBS and KCAL also were assaulted and transported to a hospital with minor injuries. A police officer was punched in the chest on Sunday and a 24-year-old man, Brandon Bell, was charged Tuesday with battery and resisting arrest.

Deputy Chief Bob Green, who heads the LAPD's South Bureau, said officers were pelted with rocks as they stood by monitoring the protest. He blamed the incidents on "knuckleheads" from outside the area who are trying to provoke a confrontation with police.

In Oakland on Monday night, demonstrators left a gathering at City Hall before briefly blocking Interstate 880, trying to march onto Interstate 580, throwing fireworks and assaulting a restaurant waiter with a hammer.

Oakland police used flash-bang grenades and made nine arrests for crimes including assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism.

Los Angeles officials are very sensitive to images of unrest in a city where the 1965 Watts Riots resulted in 34 deaths and 1992 violence following the acquittal of four white officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King left 55 people dead and thousands injured.

The LAPD has spent years building relationships in the black community and it's now working with African-American leaders to head off more serious violence. More than 300 police officers responded to the Crenshaw demonstration and they were intentionally slow to directly engage protesters to allow a peaceful end to the demonstration.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, a south Los Angeles-based community activist group, said the department's response demonstrated the progress that's been made.

"They didn't wade in with stun guns and billy clubs, shooting up the joint, which might have happened 20 years ago," Hutchinson said. "I think that's a sign they've learned a few things."

Los Angeles Police Commissioner John Mack, a former president of the Los Angeles Urban League, said the public needs to differentiate between the troublemakers and the peaceful demonstrators.

"It's important we don't get carried away and get so focused on the few, who in my opinion clearly were not a part of the organized group and had their own agenda," Mack said. "Quite frankly, I'm not so sure that all of them even cared about Trayvon Martin."

AP writers Raquel Maria Dillon, Robert Jablon and John Antczak contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 1 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. its kind of funny The great terriorist Org MSNBC said this would happen if the Law was followed in Fl.