Los Angeles Black Lives Matter activists demand police chief be fired

Black Lives Matter have been holding a 24-hour vigil in front of Los Angeles city hall since July 12, 2016. They are demanding the police chief's resignation. (Photo credit: Carla Green)

Tensions between police and communities across the country remain high. In Los Angeles, Black Lives Matter activists are calling for the police chief’s resignation after the city’s  police commission ruled that officers were justified when they killed a woman armed with a knife.   They’ve remained camped at the steps of city hall since the July 12 decision. FSRN’s Carla Green reports.

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Redel Jones was killed by police after allegedly robbing a pharmacy for $80 with a kitchen knife. Two weeks ago, the police commission ruled that the officer who killed her did not violate policy. In response, Black Lives Matter activists marched from a peaceful protest at LAPD headquarters to city hall, set up camp, and demanded police chief Charlie Beck be fired. They’ve been there ever since.

Protesters are serving casserole, tending a small library and holding daily meetings on folding chairs. It’s all very civil and smells faintly of incense. But their demands are serious: they want Los Angeles’s city police chief fired.

Local activist Melina Abdullah says police chief Charlie Beck has to go in order to send a message that citizens demand that police – and their superiors – be held accountable for their actions.

“We recognize that once Beck goes, there’s going to be a cop who replaces him,” explains Abdullah. “That said, once Beck is fired, because he is going to be fired as a result of the people’s demand, it also sends notice to whoever comes behind him that they, too, will be held accountable.”

At least 70 people have been camping out, holding a vigil for the past two weeks. She’s been there since the beginning. She looks tired – her voice keeps cracking – but, as she says, “We’ve said we’re sleepless but we’re not tired. Yeah.”

As the evening meeting finishes up, activists set up tents for another night in front of city hall. Abdullah explains it’s a necessary tactic in order to not run afoul of the city’s anti-homeless ordinance.

“We have a code in this city which is for the houseless population, that tents can only be up from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. We realize that our First Amendment rights are being violated, because it’s a protest and we’re supposed to be able to use tents for protest. At the same time, we’ve been compromising, because we want to keep the encampment.”

So far, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti says he supports Police Chief Charlie Beck. He’s offered to host a delegation of activists, but they’ve turned down the invite. Instead they sent a message to city hall saying it’s the mayor who should come down and meet with them.

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