An annual Kwanzaa celebration in Los Angeles took on a sober tone Friday, as African-Americans honoring their heritage protested recent killings of unarmed black men by police. With some chanting "Black lives matter! Black lives matter!" about 100 people paraded down Crenshaw Boulevard to Leimert Park.
For two miles, 19-year-old LaVonce Goodlow walked with a sign that read “Our Lives Matter.” It was his first time participating in the Kwanzaa event, but this year he felt he had to take part.
"It’s scary to have to walk outside and watch your surroundings, Goodlow said. He added he doesn't want to worry about appearing menacing, "especially as I get older, because I’m looking more mature and I’m getting bigger."
On the minds of many of the marchers was Ezell Ford, an unarmed 25-year-old black man who was fatally shot by LAPD in August. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he expects the autopsy report to be released before the end of the year. Activists like Jasmyne Cannick vowed to keep up the pressure.
"Our own lives have to matter enough for to us to get out and speak out about this," Cannick said. "When we don’t, that’s how this stuff happens and no one is held responsible."
Activists say they plan to rally for Ford again over the course of the seven-day Kwanzaa holiday.