Black Lives Matter Protestors Confront LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

October 20th 2015

Alex Mierjeski

A group of protesters representing the Black Lives Matter movement interrupted a town hall meeting in South Los Angeles late Monday night, where the city's Mayor Eric Garcetti was slated to address residents regarding a number of public policy issues, according to local news reports.

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At the packed meeting in South LA's Holman United Methodist Church, approximately 50 protesters stood with their backs to Garcetti in effort to raise awareness of the struggles people of color face, and the neglect they say they have faced from Garcetti.

"The mayor has neglected, disrespected and abused the black community for far too long," Black Lives Matter organizer and Cal State L.A. professor Melina Abdullah told the Los Angeles Times. "We are here today because this is real for us. This is not a political game. This is not about your reelection. This is about our lives."

On Tuesday, Garcetti issued a statement pledging his support of the community on Facebook.

"Last night, I hosted a community town hall because I am committed to working with South L.A. community members and...

Posted by Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Associated Press reports that Garcetti had been scheduled to discuss policy matters, public transportation, and the 2024 Olympics with South LA residents, business owners and community leaders. But the meeting was disrupted by the protesters, who later grabbed hold of the microphone during a Q&A session with the mayor, and swarmed around his car when he tried to leave. On the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles branch's Twitter account, moderators said the protest was the result of the group not receiving an invitation to a town-hall meeting they had demanded in the first place.

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Holman United Methodist's pastor did not immediately respond to a request for comment by ATTN: Tuesday.

According to reports, some residents attending the town-hall meeting became frustrated at the interruption, with some leaving and attempting to quiet protesters. Garcetti seemed to echo those frustrations in a statement Monday night, saying that he was "disappointed that our conversation was cut short when there is so much work for us to do together to make our neighborhoods stronger and safer."

Garcetti's relationship with the neighborhood's Black community has been strained in the past, and was not helped by what reports describe as an inadequate response to high-profile police shootings, including one last year involving the fatal shooting of an unarmed, mentally ill black man. Garcetti has faced particular criticism from the Black Lives Matter movement after he was filmed avoiding protestors and lying about the purposes of a trip he said was about funding homelessness and community policing programs. The trip was indeed scheduled for fundraising, though those for the purposes of securing reelection money, according to The Times.

At the demonstration Monday, Garcetti addressed pointed questions head on.

"Let me say, you're right, your analysis," he said in response to complaints about the root causes of violence in underprivileged neighborhoods, The Times notes. "I hate this back-and-forth we hear nationally, where people say black lives matter and politicians say all lives matter. Black lives matter in a unique way, and you and I see eye to eye on this."

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