Members of the public expressed their anger with the Los Angeles Police Department and called on Chief Michel Moore to resign during a heated public comment section of a Police Commission meeting that came after days of protests throughout the city.
The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday held its first meeting since the start of the civil unrest across the city over the in-custody death of George Floyd, as well as incidents of police brutality by the city. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting was held virtually and people were asked to join via Zoom or dial in.
Black Lives Matter’s Los Angeles chapter, which helped organize the protests, urged followers to call in. And hundreds did, unleashing their anger at the chief and frustration with how the department has responded to the protests.
But the virtual meeting had reached a maximum capacity of 500 participants a few minutes after it started at 9:30 a.m., sparking backlash from the public and apologies from commissioners. After a more than 40-minute delay to allow more people to join, the meeting continued with comment from Moore.
The chief described four recent police shootings, saying there have been 13 this year.
He then commented on the protests in the city, saying they escalated into widespread looting and attacks on officers in the downtown and Fairfax areas. “My responsibility has been to ensure that we reestablish order, while we facilitate the lawful expression,” he said.
“We’ve seen a number of peaceful protests and demonstrations,” Moore said. “However, each day has also seen the continued instances of burglaries, and looting of businesses in various parts of the city,” he added in explaining the department’s response.
More than 2,700 people were arrested amid the protests, the vast majority for “failure to disperse” for curfew, according to the chief.
Moore said 27 of the department’s personnel have been injured, including one hospitalized for a fractured skull and another for a broken knee. He said he didn’t have information on how many protesters were injured, but is working with the L.A. Fire Department to get the numbers.
The chief then ended his remarks by again apologizing for comments he made Monday during a news conference, in which he said those “capitalizing” on the protests have the death of George Floyd “on their hands.”
“I understand that there are those that are not able to accept my apology,” Moore said. “I’m hopeful that my words and deeds, as well as those in our department, will show others the genuineness of our intentions, our values and our beliefs.”
His remarks were followed by those from members of the public, many of whom began their comments calling for Moore’s resignation or firing, and expressed anger over his comment about Floyd’s death and the protesters.
“Shame on you,” “ignorant,” “unacceptable,” “disgusting,” “despicable,” said the callers to the chief in the hourslong meeting.
Paula Minor of Black Lives Matter also called in and also told the chief to resign.
“As the leader of LAPD, your philosophy, your thoughts, and your words are important,” she told Moore. “What you said was a travesty and unacceptable.”
Several called for action from officials, demanding for the defunding of the police department.
The first caller also criticized the commission staff for not preparing to accommodate more than 500 people on the call, saying it suggests the commission doesn’t really want to hear from the public. Another called it “emblematic of the larger problem.”
One after the other, many activists and residents expressed frustration with how the LAPD has responded to protesters, describing rubber bullets hitting them. One criticized the department for using tear gas and making mass arrests during a pandemic.
Many have also described the protests escalating into violence when officers became involved and expressed disappointment with the decision to call in the National Guard.
“I have never felt less safe exercising my right to protest peacefully as I did when the police showed up,” one person said.
Some also described Moore’s statements and apology “PR,” saying they sounded insincere.
“No one believes. You need to go,” Minor told the chief.
Some also criticized the handling of the curfews, saying they were issues on too short of notice and not communicated clearly. Sunday’s curfew orders had come less than an hour before they were set to go into effect at 6 p.m., and Monday’s orders brought confusion when L.A. County residents inadvertently received conflicting messages.
The meeting, at times, became emotional as residents grappled with the longstanding issues of police brutality against people of color.
A woman who identified herself the mother of a black son and a wife of a police officer addressed the group.
“I’m scared every day,” she told the chief and commissioners.