Gardena city officials joined demonstrators Sunday in taking a knee against racial injustice — a symbolic gesture of peaceful protest seen across the globe.
Church leaders, city officials, families and others gathered in a neighborhood where a few people held protest signs, among them images of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He first began kneeling during NFL games in 2016, refusing to stand during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and inequities facing black Americans.
“We’re banding together to make sure that we stand up for justice, and we work on police reform,” Gardena Mayor Pro Tem Mark Henderson said at the “Take a Knee for Peace” protest.
From Washington D.C. to London, crowds of protesters around the world have taken a knee. Last week, Sky5 captured demonstrators kneeling on the steps of City Hall in downtown L.A.
Largely peaceful demonstrations through the Fairfax District and Santa Monica area last weekend were sometimes overshadowed by scenes of looting and fires. The images troubled LaWanda Staten, a city commissioner at Sunday’s protest.
“There are other ways besides, you know, just burning your buildings and and rioting,” Staten said. “That’s why we wanted to take a knee today to show peace and solidarity.”
Some advocates and organizers within Black Lives Matter have said the focus on looting detracts from not just the message of their movement but the actions of law enforcement during demonstrations.
“Our protests have been completely amazing and beautiful, and the minute that the police come in, it’s been really dangerous,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors told KTLA last week.
“There’s been pepper spray, people have been tear gassed, people have been rubber bullet-ed,” Cullors said. “And so we need to challenge this idea of what violence is looking like at this moment.”
Black Lives Matter has sued the Los Angeles Police Department alongside other advocacy groups over allegations of excessive force at protests, according to the Los Angeles Times.
This week, demonstrations have spread to smaller cities in Southern California, a trend seen on a national scale as demonstrations continue to draw thousands, the Associated Press reported.
“There are so many people who want to do something but they don’t know what to do,” Staten said. “And this is an avenue for them to get out and do something.”
With issues facing the black community coming to the forefront, Murphy Richardson, one of the protest organizers, said people should take a moment for some self-reflection.
“If I could quote Michael Jackson, it starts with the man in the mirror, or the person in the mirror,” Murphy said. “It starts at home. All this starts at home.”