After nearly two weeks of protests outside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home, clashes erupted Sunday morning and one person was arrested.
Videos shared online show at least one officer in riot gear hitting people with a baton outside Getty House.
Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, which organized the protest, said “LAPD advanced without warning and violently attacked us.”
Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Melissa Podany said the officers were “in crowd management mode” when they saw someone using a bullhorn in violation of a municipal code and attempted to make an arrest.
The crowd “moved in on officers, punching, pushing and kicking at officers,” Podany said.
Meanwhile, BLM L.A. cofounder Melina Abdullah says the officers advanced on the crowd “without cause.”
“They basically ambushed us, and swung their batons,” Abdullah told KTLA, adding that the protesters were initially told that if they stayed on other side of the street from them, they would be OK.
One video shows officers walking up to the protesters and surrounding one person as people from the crowd quickly approach the police. The situation then turns into a melee, according to footage from the scene.
The officers ended up declaring an unlawful assembly and arresting one person on suspicion of removing another person from police custody, according to Podany.
The Los Angeles Times reports the person arrested was Jamie Penn, the Sub-District 3 representative for the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council.
Penn, who was released later in the day, told the Times she was serving as a street medic at the protest and was trying to keep an older protester from being trampled as people ran from officers when she was arrested.
The person who had the bullhorn, however, was ultimately not arrested, according to LAPD.
“I don’t know how the person could have been arrested for attempting to intervene in an arrest when no one was arrested, no one was doing anything that was illegal or violent,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah said the violence started about 45 minutes into the protest, and she described a peaceful scene prior to that, with the group praying together and doing breath work. She said some had brought their children along.
“We had two people who were hospitalized, we had someone who had her teeth knocked out,” Abdullah said. “We had elders who were tackled to the ground —over 70 years old— tackled and pinned on the ground.”
The activist said the group still plans to show up for another protest outside Garcetti’s house Monday.
Nithya Raman, the newly elected member of Los Angeles City Council, denounced the LAPD’s actions on social media.
“There is no acceptable justification for LAPD to use force against Angelenos who are peacefully exercising their right to free speech,” Raman said on Twitter.
Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) also weighed in on the Sunday incident on Twitter, saying that the “right to peacefully protest is a First Amendment Right that is sacred.”
“I urge LAPD to restrain from use of force, practice de-escalation tactics and ultimately, protect the public,” Carrillo said. “Peaceful protests should not lead to police in riot gear making arrests amid COVID-19.”
BLM and other groups have been protesting in front of Garcetti’s house for days, demanding that he reject any potential appointment to President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet.
The protesters say the mayor shouldn’t be part of the cabinet because of his record on transportation and homelessness.
So far, at least three people have been arrested in these protests — two of them for failure to disperse on Nov. 30, the Los Angeles Times reports.