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Trayvon Martin rally in Leimert Park peaceful with stepped up security

July 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It was a peaceful night of demonstrations in Leimert Park Tuesday as people continue to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

A protest march in downtown Los Angeles also took place without incident. It was a different scenario on Monday night when 14 people were arrested after a protest became unruly in the Crenshaw District.

"We were disturbed at what we saw last night," said Earl Ofari Hutchinson with Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable.

It began as a prayer rally at Leimert Park at 6 p.m. when about 150 people became part of an angry mob that ran amuck through the streets of Los Angeles, according to the LAPD. By 8 p.m., several groups of protesters on foot were marching on Crenshaw Boulevard.

Some attacked passing cars and jumped on top of minivans and SUVs. Others roughed up random pedestrians, police said. The mob raided Walmart and other stores and kicked police vehicles. By 9 p.m. the LAPD declared a citywide tactical alert, and then at 10 p.m. the LAPD declared an unlawful assembly in the Crenshaw area protest.

The LAPD said a local television photographer was hit in the back by a suspect, and a reporter was hit by the camera as a result. They were treated and expected to be OK.

Hutchinson said enough is enough. He and the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association went store to store recruiting business owners, citizens and community leaders to become "Trayvon Martin Peace Monitors." The monitors will stand on specific corners Tuesday night to help control the crowd.

"Don't use violence. Don't use destruction. Don't use his name, don't use his memory for violence," Hutchinson said.

City leaders addressed the violence in a news conference Monday night.

"The Martin family didn't ask anybody to break car windows. They didn't ask anybody to take little kids' scooters. They didn't ask anybody to attack businesses, and they certainly didn't say to take over traffic in the streets," said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti cut short a trip to the East Coast to return to Los Angeles Monday "out of an abundance of caution," according to a spokesman for the mayor.

Of the 14 people arrested, seven adults and six juveniles were suspected of failing to disperse, and one was suspected of inciting a riot, police said.

"Parents, don't send your children to protest in and around Crenshaw. Please obey the law," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. "We want this to be a safe event. We want people to get their point across, but we want to keep everybody safe."

Some criticized the LAPD for not declaring an unlawful assembly for hours.

"We will review this, see if we could have done it different. But...at the end of the day, the Los Angeles Police Department did what this community expects from them," said Beck.

Beck vowed that his department would be tougher on anyone causing trouble during any future Zimmerman-related protests.

"Unfortunately, last night, the action of a few are going to abridge the rights of many," said Beck.

While many in the community criticized the violence, others said they could see why it happened.

"I'm saying it's a bigger picture than 20 kids running around tearing stuff up, jumping on cars and raiding stuff and beating up people. Why are they doing that? Because the justice system has completely failed," said Mary Glynn, who lives in the Crenshaw District.

Jurors reached the not-guilty verdict Saturday, sparking a nationwide response from the NAACP, celebrities and citizens. The NAACP called on the Department of Justice to prosecute Zimmerman in the February 2012 shooting of Martin in Sanford, Florida.

In Oakland, nine people were arrested when a protest over Zimmerman's acquittal turned violent.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.


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