FAIRFAX DISTRICT, LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters rallied in the Fairfax District Friday, marching through city streets and into The Grove shopping center as part of a nationwide effort demanding an immediate and lasting ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, as well as an end to U.S. aid for Israel.
Backers of the "Shut It Down for Palestine" effort organized boycotts, disruptions and rallies on Black Friday across the country "to make it clear that there will be no business as usual until Palestine is free," according to the ANSWER Coalition, one of the local organizers.
The coalition's name is an acronym for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.
The group initially gathered at 10 a.m. in Pan Pacific Park, adjacent to The Grove, which was bustling with Black Friday shoppers.
A short time later, the crowd moved out of the park and began marching on city streets around the area, passing entrances to The Grove. Eventually, several hundred protesters began marching through the outdoor shopping center itself. No major disturbances had been reported inside the center.
The group then moved back onto city streets, circling the area of the grove before eventually gathering at the intersection of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue, where many sat in the intersection. The group also brought in several trucks to block traffic in all directions.
Reports from the scene indicated some small skirmishes erupted during the march, but there were no immediate reports of arrests or injuries.
Los Angeles Police Department officers were stationed around entrances to The Grove in an effort to prevent protesters from re-entering the shopping center or Farmers' Market property.
The LAPD went on a citywide tactical alert in response to the march, allowing the agency to keep officers on duty beyond their normal shifts to respond to a major incident.
"The LAPD's objective is to ensure public safety for ALL, while facilitating the First Amendment rights of those peacefully demonstrating," the department said in a statement.
"Equally the department will enforce the law when individuals engage in acts of violence."
City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, whose Fifth District includes the Fairfax area, issued a statement Friday, saying, "We all have a first amendment right to protest, but we will not accept or tolerate hate or violence of any kind. Safety and security must not be compromised."