Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti faced throngs of hostile protesters at a community meeting Monday night as chaos descended on a gathering that had been intended as a forum for him to improve his fraught relationship with the black communities of South L.A.
The meeting at Holman United Methodist Church, attended by several hundred, was quickly overtaken by about 50 protesters from organizations including the national activist group Black Lives Matter, which was formed in the wake of high-profile police killings of young black men. As Garcetti spoke to a full house in the church’s cavernous sanctuary hall, the demonstrators stood and turned their backs to him.
Toward the end of the hourlong session Garcetti, ringed by police officers, struggled to reach his car as he was swarmed by a crowd of chanting activists — and once inside the vehicle, he was forced to wait amid blaring sirens until the crowd was dispersed by the LAPD.
“The mayor has neglected, disrespected and abused the black community for far too long,” Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan African Studies at Cal State L.A. and organizer for Black Lives Matter, said at the meeting. “We are here today because this is real for us. This is not a political game. This is not about your reelection. This is about our lives.”
Others voiced exasperation at what they described as the usurping of a general-purpose community meeting by a small and unrepresentative group of protesters. Many of those seated in the pews as the meeting began rose and left as the faction of protesters became more strident in questioning Garcetti. Others tried to quiet the demonstrators when they interrupted Garcetti. (Read more from “Now Facing Hostile Black Lives Matter Protesters, Garcetti’s South L.A. Forum Ends Abruptly” HERE)