Protesters Gather in LA for Victim of Fatal Memphis Police Beating

Memphis Awaits Release Of Police Body Cam Video Of Tyre Nichols' Arrest Prior To His Death Days Later

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Demonstrators gathered in downtown Los Angeles, West Long Angeles and Hollywood Saturday, one day after property was defaced at a gathering outside LAPD headquarters to protest the beating death of a 29-year- old Black man by five Memphis police officers.

"A small group has gathered in Downtown Los Angeles. The flow of traffic has not been affected," the department tweeted at 11:23 a.m. Saturday. "The Los Angeles Police Department remains committed to ensuring all can exercise their 1st Amendment Right."

The LAPD later tweeted at 12:15 p.m. that "another small group" had gathered in the Hollywood area.

Shortly before 2 p.m., police said the group in downtown Los Angeles "peacefully exercised their 1st Amendment Right and dispersed shortly after. Continue to monitor for updates."

Saturday afternoon, about 200 demonstrators began walking westbound on Wilshire Boulevard from Sepulveda Boulevard in West LA. Police advised the public that traffic may be impacted.

Saturday's demonstrations were peaceful according to early reports, but that wasn't entirely the case Friday night. The gathering at police headquarters developed following the release of graphic video depicting the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols on Jan. 7. The five Memphis police officers -- who are also Black -- have since been fired and charged with murder.

Some in the crowd surrounded parked police cars -- banging on them and smacking windows -- but no arrests were made and most left after being warned by officers at the scene, authorities said.

The group had marched through downtown Los Angeles carrying Black Lives Matter banners and smartphones before gathering at First and Main streets shortly after 8 p.m. for a candlelight vigil for Nichols and also Keenan Anderson, who died in LAPD custody Jan. 6 after being repeatedly shot with a Taser.

Protesters knocked down metal protective barriers and someone spray painted the word "kills" on the building under the words Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Last night, a group of about 60 people gathered in front of the Los Angeles Police Headquarters Facility to hold a candlelight vigil. The vast majority conducted themselves in a civil manner," LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a statement Saturday. "A small portion of this group, intent on disruption, later vandalized the building and two police vehicles.

"Fortunately, no police officers or demonstrators were injured. There were no arrests.

"I am proud of the leadership, professionalism and restraint shown by our people at this incident as the did not succumb to the continuous antagonistic and violent behavior of those from the larger otherwise peaceful group," Moore continued.

"I join our elected officials, community and faith leaders encouraging Angelenos to  continue to demonstrate at events in a peaceful manner."

Similar demonstrations took place across the nation Friday night following the release of the video that was widely decried by citizens, elected officials and law enforcement.

"The grotesque actions I watched in the video were incredibly disturbing, cruel and inhumane," Moore said in a separate statement. "To witness former Memphis police officers engaged in such unjustified and excessive force at the expense of Tyre Nichols' life angers me as a police officer, as an American.

"This behavior goes against every principle of the law enforcement profession and is in direct contradiction to the dedication and sacrifice of the vast majority of our members who strive to protect and serve. The violation of trust tarnishes our badge and has a caustic effect on the public's trust."

The Association For Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs called the video "shocking and disturbing.

"The acts committed have no explanation and illustrate disregard for human life," the group said in a statement. "Those of us in law enforcement take an oath to uphold the law, but men and women in uniform across this country also go about this daily task while respecting the public. As one of the largest law enforcement unions, ALADS and its members remain committed to working together to continue to build on the improvements we have made in the last two years. Unfortunately, this tragic incident forces all of us to pause and reflect."

Long Beach police Chief Wally Hebeish called the video "disturbing and appalling."

"As a profession, we are required to de-escalate situations, intervene when necessary and strive to find peaceful resolutions to incidents," Hebeish said. "The actions depicted in the video of the former Memphis police officers are intolerable."

Long Beach police tweeted Saturday that "while there are not any known threats of violence or planned protests today, we have set up our Command Post out of abundance of caution."

Nichols died in a hospital three days after the Jan. 7 traffic stop. Five Black police officers allegedly involved in the confrontation and beating of Nichols were fired last week, and all were charged this week with second- degree murder and other offenses.

The video shows the officers repeatedly beating the man, even as he is on the ground. Toward the end, Nichols is heard screaming for his mother.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Nichols' family and also represented George Floyd's family after Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, has hailed Memphis officials for acting swiftly to fire the officers involved and charge them with murder. But he compared the video of Nichols' beating to the infamous 1991 beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers.

"Regrettably, it reminded us of (the) Rodney King video," Crump said. "Regrettably, unlike Rodney King, Tyre didn't survive."

King's beating led to an overhauling of LAPD management and ultimately sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots that left more than 60 people dead and caused more than $1 billion in damage.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement saying her heart "aches for Tyre's family and all who loved him."

"Our country has a problem that we cannot run away from -- we must confront it," Bass said. "All communities deserve police that will always protect them. It is commendable that the Police Chief and officials in Memphis fired, arrested and filed murder charges against these officers. True justice, however, is not a guilty verdict. True justice would be Tyre being alive today. As the people of Los Angeles process and react to this horrific killing, we must move with purpose and peace."

Gov. Gavin Newsom sent condolences to Nichol's family and friends and said he should be alive Saturday.

"The video released shows abhorrent behavior and these officers must be held accountable for their deadly actions and clear abuse of power," the governor said in a statement Friday. "Today, we are a country in mourning, and must continue our work nationwide to push reforms to prevent excessive use of force and save lives."

Law enforcement agencies across the Southland were on standby throughout the day Friday awaiting the release of the video by Memphis officials, prepared to respond to any protests that might result.

Moore said in his statement the LAPD was prepared to facilitate peaceful protests, and he asked residents to "remain peaceful and unified in their expression of outrage."

A group of community activists gathered in Leimert Park on Friday morning ahead of the video's release, calling for peaceful protests, and urging residents to gather to watch the video "collectively as one."

Activist Najee Ali noted that after the 2020 death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Los Angeles "exploded with different protests ... all over L.A. County."

Rodney King's daughter, Lora Dene King, joined the group Friday afternoon to watch the video when it was released. Earlier in the day, she issued a statement decrying the police assault of Nichols as "extremely sickening."

"We should not have to witness such things in this world over and over with a different name behind the hashtags," she said.

"Watching these type of videos has become very disturbing. It triggers past beatings often in comparison to my father's brutal 1991 beating with the LAPD. This is something I will never understand. I wish to send the family God's Grace and mercy and strength to keep his legacy and good deeds alive as well. I am happy to know he (Nichols) loved skateboarding like my father. I hope his family find strength the most; in the days to come."

The Los Angeles Police Protective League -- the union representing LAPD officers -- issued a joint statement Friday night with the San Francisco Police Officers Association, San Jose Police Officers' Association, and the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers blasting the actions of officers in the video.

"The killing of Tyre Nichols at the hands of the five cowardly former Memphis police officers is repugnant and the complete antithesis of how honorable law enforcement professionals conduct themselves every day," the statement read. "These accused individuals were fired, charged with murder and other crimes, arrested, fingerprinted, photographed and jailed, just like any other suspected criminal. Their brutalization of Mr. Nichols was horrific and for his family to have to view the video of Tyre suffering through those evil acts is unfathomable. We pray that they find the strength to deal with this unmitigated loss."

William Briggs, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, called the beating of Nichols "savage and unconscionable."

"The behavior of these officers must be condemned," Briggs said. "Not just by members of the law enforcement community, but by all Americans. They will answer for their actions; their disregard for human life; their excessive use of force; their failure to intervene and render aide; their violation of the public's trust."

Glendale Police Chief Manuel Cid said the actions in the video "can only be described as police brutality and a lack of humanity."

"These police officers do not represent our agency or the greater law enforcement community," Cid said. "The Glendale Police Department and I condemn their actions in the strongest possible terms and extend our deepest condolences to the victim's family and loved ones."

El Monte Police Chief Jake Fisher added, "The El Monte PD strongly believes in accepting individual and collective responsibility for our oath, duty, and actions. We will continue to adhere to strict standards of conduct in keeping with our ethical obligations while respecting the value of human life and dignity."

The Long Beach Police Department issued a statement earlier Friday saying the agency was on a Stage 2 Tactical Alert in preparation for possible protests.

"This means we will have additional officers on patrol ready to respond to calls for service or any other incidents that may develop," according to LBPD. "We currently have no information of planned protest activity in our city."

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, in a statement on social media, said his agency was on standby.

"We understand there may be strong reactions to the incident described by the Memphis police chief as `reckless and inhumane,"' Barnes said. "At this time, we do not have information that any significant events will occur locally related to the release of this video. Our department will protect the First Amendment rights of those who peacefully demonstrate. We are also appropriately prepared and ready to respond if anyone attempts to act criminally."

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