16-year-old South LA student shares personal experience with racism during Garcetti briefing

A 16-year-old student from South Los Angeles spoke out to call for dialogue and action amid a wave of protests across the country over the death of George Floyd.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 16-year-old student from South Los Angeles spoke out to call for dialogue and action amid a wave of protests across the country over the death of George Floyd.

During Mayor Eric Garcetti's press briefing Tuesday, the mayor gave 16-year-old Davion Pilgrim of South L.A. the opportunity to speak about his own experience with racism.

"Losing our lives to the police is one of the biggest fears that we have in South L.A.," Pilgrim said. "I have seven brothers and sisters and I surely don't want that to happen to them."

Garcetti addressed the demonstrators who are taking to the streets of L.A., including those who gathered outside his home in Hancock Park.

"You don't sign up for a job like mayor if you aren't willing to not only take the heat, but to hear the voices," Garcetti said. "And I never let loud or angry or upset voices cloud me from hearing the words."

"To my African American brothers and sisters who live in this city, I want to say I hear you," Garcetti said.

Civil rights attorney Connie Rice has sued the LAPD many times over the years.

"The changes in LAPD are seismic," Rice said.

Rice said the department's leaders like Cmdr. Cory Palka have embraced a new attitude toward policing, but that hasn't always filtered down to the rank-and-file. She says real change requires citizens and police working together.

"We're talking about hearts and minds here. And hearts and minds for cops, only police can lead that," Rice said. "You have to ride shotgun with them to help them change how they see poor communities, how they see themselves as cops."

Davion Pilgrim also called for dialogue and action.

"We need to hold our officers accountable, and we must stay strong for change and for peace," Pilgrim said.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.