Garcetti to co-chair Biden inauguration as protests continue at LA mayor's residence

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles continued protests outside Mayor Eric Garcetti's official residence for the 14th consecutive day Monday, demanding President-elect Joe Biden not give him a federal appointment.

"It will be the biggest mistake of the Biden presidency if he allows Garcetti to be the secretary of (Housing and Urban Development) when four people a day are killed in this city through homelessness," one protester said during the demonstration.

The protest came as Biden asked Garcetti to be on his inaugural committee, making him one of five newly appointed co-chairs that will plan the Jan. 20 inauguration.

"Activists expect more from a Democratic elected official than a Republican elected official," said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of public policy at UC Riverside.

The Garcetti pick, Ramakrishnan says, most likely won't be Biden's last to come from California, and it comes after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was picked to be Biden's secretary of Health and Human Services.

Garcetti's role during Biden's presidential bid led to speculation he might gain a Cabinet post or be appointed to another prominent position in the Biden Administration even though the mayor has repeatedly said he has not sought such a position.

But the speculation has resulted in daily demonstrations outside Getty House, his official residence, by activists who are critical of his handling of such issues as reducing homelessness, police reform, and public transportation.

During Sunday's protest, Jamie Penn, a member of the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, was arrested after police attempted to disperse the crowd during the 13th day of demonstrations, which drew criticism from elected officials and other activists.

"In regards to @lapd response at Getty House today: Peaceful protesters deserve the space and protections to make their voices heard,'' tweeted Rep. Jimmy Gomez, who represents Los Angeles' 34th congressional district. "Anything short of that is NOT acceptable. No exceptions. No excuses.''

Earlier Sunday, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, tweeted his support for Penn.

"LAPD's brutal actions this morning are unacceptable and must be denounced by everyone,'' Santiago wrote. "I stand w/ you in denouncing police brutality demanding the immediate release of Jamie! #FREEJAMIE.''

Penn also took to Twitter to announce her release, and urge continued demonstrations.

"I am free,'' she tweeted Sunday afternoon. I have one request. Please show up ... tomorrow @9 a.m.''

Her arrest came shortly after 10:30 a.m. Sunday while officers were in "crowd management mode.''

Someone in the crowd began using a bullhorn, which is a violation, and the sound exceeded more than 200 feet, which is another violation, said Officer Melissa Podany of the Los Angeles Police Department's Media Relations Section.

A neighbor complained about the noise, which was yet another violation, Podany said.

"Four officers attempted to make an arrest for the above violations, when the crowd moved in on the officers, punching and kicking them, which resulted in an 'officer needs help' call,'' she said. "At that time, an unlawful assembly was declared.''

The person with the bullhorn ran away and another person was arrested on suspicion of lynching, she said.

California law previously defined "lynching'' as a crime of removing someone from the lawful custody of a peace officer by means of a riot, according to California Penal Code 405a. However, the term lynching,'' deemed inappropriate because of its controversial history in American race relations, was removed from the state's penal code in 2015.

On Sunday night, City News Service reached out to LAPD chief spokesman Josh Rubinstein regarding the department's decision to use the word. He said he was not available for comment but would address the matter later.

Penn was identified on social media as the person who was arrested. She describes herself as transgender, an organizer and a Democratic Socialist.

Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, which has organized the protests with support from Ground Game LA, has vowed to conduct a demonstration every day until Biden commits to not appointing Garcetti to his cabinet.

In addition to Garcetti getting picked for the inaugural committee, Biden announced the appointment of South Carolina Congressman James E. Clyburn, who will chair the committee; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; and Congress members Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware.

"Kamala and I are honored and grateful to these leaders for joining our inaugural committee as co-chairs and helping to organize a safe inauguration for all Americans,'' Biden said. "These leaders reflect the strength, spirit, and diversity of America and have always held a steadfast commitment to restoring the soul of the nation, building back the middle class, and unifying the country. We are proud of their support and know they will help plan an inauguration that will reflect our nation's shared values.''

Garcetti previously served as a national co-chair of Biden's presidential campaign committee.

"I am honored to join the Presidential Inaugural Committee as a co-chair to help organize a historic inauguration for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect (Kamala) Harris that will engage Americans in every corner of the country and keep people safe,'' Garcetti said in a statement following Monday's announcement. "This inauguration will mark a turning point for Americans to unite and start building back better together, for generations to come. As we grapple with threats to our health, livelihoods and climate, this is a time for Americans to come together, work together and move forward together.''

There's also the question of who will take over the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Kamala Harris.

When Harris is sworn in as vice president, it will be Gov. Gavin Newsom's job to pick a replacement.

"Alex Padilla, secretary of state, is the front runner if you will," Ramakrishnan said. "I've heard Congresswoman Judy Chu's name, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Karen Bass - they could also be potential cabinet picks."

Those cabinet choices are being announced earlier than in the past. Ramakrishnan attributes that to President Donald Trump's election challenge and Biden's need to get a quick start working on the coronavirus pandemic and economy once he takes office.

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