As part of a vast national response in 37 cities to The Ferguson, Missouri shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown, Los Angeles saw two protests over two days. Citing LA's own tragic losses and police abuse of Ezell Ford, Omar Abrego, Damon Jackson and Barry Montgomery the streets hosted two wildcat marches. The first was on Sunday August 17th outside of LAPD Headquarters and the second was the following day in front of both the Ford family home and the Abrego family home in South Central los Angeles.
The story of police abuse is being seen by most as a a black male issue but these crowds gave pause to that notion. The protestors were a very mixed crowd both racially and culturally. Baby carriages and families with young black profile-able boys were everywhere. Asians and whites marched with brown and black people together shouting a long simmering disgust at what has been happening for generations.
The police response was very light. There were bike cops and motorcycle police along with a fair amount of regular LAPD at the first action. Some streets were roped off while others streets were quickly blocked to traffic as the crowd sporadically wound it's way wildcat style through downtown.
The response was essentially the opposite of the Ferguson display of force.
The police response was even lighter in the the second march in South LA. Black Dodge Chargers, SUV's and regular LAPD blocked traffic for the marchers but no crowd control was exhibited. After asking some of the people about police presence in their neighborhood of 65th and Broadway, it was stated that the police presence on any given night was heavier than on this night of protest.
Tempers flared at both marches.The first protest saw activists openly insulting and challenging cops at various street points. However I did not see one physical contact.
It was theatre but it almost wasn't.
There were families of the slain and abused men holding large photos of their brothers, fathers and sons.
Two of the deceased men, Ezell Ford and Damon Jackson were challenged mentally with Schizophrenia and BiPolar conditions.
Another young schizophrenic named Barry Montgomery was beaten and hidden inside the Los Angeles jail system for days while his family searched for him frantically. He and Damon Jackson's family are being represented by Eric Christopher Morris. He can be reached at 909 466 4400.
For a great description of the first march the Los Angeles People’s Media did this story for indymedia Los Angeles.
Both marches gathered people as they wound through their respective streets.
In South Central people came out of their houses to urge the marchers on. Some put down what they were doing and strode alongside the others in sync with their perceptions and their rage. Ezell Ford was a locally known schizophrenic and manic depressive person who was shot while lying on the ground.
Initially there were few black males in the South Central march, but as the procession continued they appeared in bigger numbers and joined their voices and their presence to the street choir of …. "Hands UP…..Don't Shoot."
Men solemnly marched who had that look of the long besieged in their gaze and in their jaws.
I spoke with some of the neighbors in the Ezell Ford neighborhood before the crowd got moving who pointed out that many of the folks in the the blocks surrounding 65th and Broadway were related.
It was an impromptu poll of the 8 to12 people standing there in the parking lot with me. They were all mostly in agreement however.
Aunts and Uncles ……cousins…lots of cousins.This led a few people to assert their perception that families gather together. They gather In houses, on porches ………….in back yards. They walk to the store together. Cousins hang out. Brothers and sisters walk to the bus.
This being established it was told to me that the LAPD officers that patrol this area use Gang Databases in their evaluations. It was described to me as an automatic thing….that on being arrested or even detained an officer could and often does enter information about the detainees gang affiliation based solely upon the officers' judgement and discretion at the time of contact.
The information stays and becomes an "under the radar " criminal record at least in the sense that when this person is detained again this data would appear and prejudice the new officer or investigation as to the disposition of the person they are looking at.
A few more emphasized that the police look for people walking or gathering together.
This makes sense in a metadata sort of way where associations are valuable. Does the need to gather information drive the police to do "Investigative Searches ".
These folks once again emphasized the famiy aspect of the blocks around 65th and Broadway.
At the last a few stated that gang activity is changed and diminished in South LA.
I have heard this in other South Central spots and the Los Angeles Homicide Report does seem to reflect this. It was a great deal worse in the 1990's . I was told that there were too many family cross gang relationships now. These bonds erode faith in the turf structure. You don't want to kill your cousins.
As the march started they joked that I would be labeled an east coast gangster with no immediately apparent particular affiliation.
Anyway the second march flowed to the home of deceased Caltrans employee Omar Abrego. People shouted the "Hands Up" mantra and urged their neighbors on as they coursed through the single story housed streets that usually they walked with much greater caution.
Folks washing their cars in the Monday late afternoon sun held their fists or the occasional gang sign to the sky.
Abrego's children, siblings and other interested families gathered in front of his house after the march and pointed to the blood stains on his driveway.
Abrego was reportedly beaten to death by LAPD sargents' for 10 minutes in front of his home, still in his Caltrans uniform after having emerged from his Caltrans truck.
BAMN spokesperson Yvette Felarca then urged possible witness's to come to them with any information they might have but may be afraid to divulge it.
They are guaranteeing protection and privacy for anyone who has information.
BAMN or By Any Means Necessary is centered in Detroit with branches in LA and Berkely
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