City Hall protesters still determined after 42 days, despite forced relocation

Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was "within policy."
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Listen to story

00:52
Download this story 0.0MB

Protesters from Black Lives Matter relocated to a cramped sidewalk across the street from Los Angeles City Hall after city workers enforced a strict policy that prevents anyone from occupying the area outside of City Hall overnight.

On Monday, 42 days after the protest began, about a dozen people sat in folding chairs in their new location, saying "good afternoon" and "hello" to people walking past them.

"As long as we leave enough room for them [on the sidewalk] to walk through, we're good," said Jasmine Abdullah, a member of Black Lives Matter.

The protest started in July after the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled that police officer Brett Ramirez acted in line with the department's deadly force rules when he shot and killed 30-year-old Redel Jones last year.

Hundreds of protesters showed up during the initial days of the demonstration. A much smaller group ate burritos Monday, surrounded by posters with "Fire Chief Beck" written on them​.

"Our whole thing is to stay here," Abdullah said, pointing to City Hall. "We want to show what true black resistance and resilience is."

The strict municipal code, enforced by the L.A. Department of Public Works, is aimed at keeping public areas clean and accessible.

Elena Stern, a department spokesperson, said the code enforcement was not intended as an eviction of the protesters. Rather, she said, their personal property had accumulated to a point that it overwhelmed the City Hall space.

"This is what we do in sanitation," she said. "In front of City Hall, and it's down in Studio City and in San Pedro and anywhere that is considered in the public's right of way."

To keep the space open and accessible, sanitation workers tape off the area beginning at 7 p.m., according to Stern.

Abdullah said the protesters will remain as close to City Hall as the law allows. But their 24/7 occupation, barbecues and other community events planned outside of City Hall this past weekend were impacted by the code enforcement. Demonstrators were crammed in a smaller section of the sidewalk further away from where they started.

"It doesn't concern me," Abdullah said. "But I am expecting them [city officials] to amp it up a little but."

LAPD Captain Andy Neiman said the protesters could return to the area directly outside of City Hall to demonstrate during the day when the public works department is not cleaning the area. 

"For now, as long as they stay out of the street and make room for other people to use the sidewalk, they're within their rights," he said. 

Protesters said police removed a portable toilet, tables and food they had purchased, making it difficult for many people to remain there 24/7.  

The group's demands remain the same: they want Mayor Eric Garcetti to fire Police Chief Charlie Beck. In a statement on July 15, Garcetti said he would be willing to meet with a small group of protesters in his office to discuss their concerns — an invitation Black Lives Matter members have since declined.

"We want him to come outside," Abdullah said.