Thousands gathered on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Sunday and together marched to West Hollywood in the “All Black Lives Matter” solidarity protest to decry racial injustice and support LGBTQ rights.
Leaders of black LGBTQ rights groups organized the peaceful demonstration, which began at 11 a.m. in front of TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard as protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace” before marching into West Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard.
The procession swelled and stretched for miles from Hollywood and Highland into the West Hollywood area, with protesters raising rainbow flags and holding up balloons and colorful signs as they chanted. Overhead, a small plane pulled behind it a “Black Lives Matter” banner that fluttered over the city, echoing the demonstrators’ words. Music could be heard throughout the protest, with some stopping to dance along the way.
“As a gay Latinx person, I’m out here supporting my black trans community and the people who are really suffering from this administration,” Albert Gonzalez, one of the protesters, said.
Deborah Stafford, another participant, said she hopes Sunday’s protests and other demonstrations will make a difference.
“It’s very special, and I hope it continues,” Stafford said. “I think some change will happen though I am kind of pragmatic so I think the change will probably be slow. But maybe it will be more quick than we hope.”
The march is meant to honor Tony McDade, a black transgender man who was shot by a Tallahassee police officer last week. Protesters will also pay tribute to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and speak out against the Los Angeles Police Department.
“We are here to amplify Black Queer voices and come together in solidarity,” the event’s organizers wrote online.
Many waved pink and blue flags reading “Black Transgender Rights Matter” as they participated in the march.
Ahead of the protest, the words “All Black Lives Matter” were painted in bright, colorful letters along Hollywood Boulevard in front of the iconic Dolby Theatre Saturday.
The protesters gathered around the letters Sunday morning, with the crowd growing quickly to include thousands of people, so many that the giant sign was no longer visible in aerial footage from Sky5.
It is estimated 25,000 people were participating in the protest as of 2 p.m., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Christopher Street West, the organization that produces L.A. Pride, was set to plan a solidarity march but announced it will no longer be involved after facing backlash for seeking a police permit to hold the event and for not reaching out to Black Lives Matter before announcing the march.
The group planning Sunday’s event is the Black LGBTQIA Advisory Board Council, a newly-formed board made up of black LGBTQ+ leaders.
“The protest is in direct response to racial injustice, systemic racism, and all forms of oppression,” the council said on its website, calling for the defunding of police and the prosecution of officers involved in police shootings of people of color.
Sunday’s march follows one that drew more than 20,000 people last Sunday. L.A. County saw nearly two weeks of massive protests in response to the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The largely peaceful protests have involved clashes with police, rubber bullets launched at demonstrators and mass arrests, leading to widespread criticism of the LAPD’s response to protests and of officials who enacted curfews earlier this month.
Ahead of Sunday’s protest, organizers urged participants to wear face coverings as the coronavirus continues to spread in Los Angeles County.
“We recognize the safety concerns around COVID-19 and the pandemic currently plaguing the nation, and disproportionately the Black and LGBTQ+ communities, and ask protesters to take protective measures, including wearing face coverings and avoiding large crowds if you are at high risk or displaying symptoms of COVID-19,” the Black LGBTQIA Advisory Board Council said online.
L.A. County’s public health director Barbara Ferrer has asked those participating in protests to wear face coverings, try to keep at least 6 feet away from others and to quarantine for 14 days and get tested if they believe they’ve been exposed after standing near others without masks for more than 15 minutes.