Hundreds of protesters gathered at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue at noon Sunday, sprawling on the courtyard in front of the federal building.
The protest was officially a call to action titled “F*** Federal Police, F*** Trump,” and many protestors held signs to show their support of the racial injustice protests taking place in Portland.
Chantelle Hershberger, an activist with the Refuse Fascism organization, leans against a large, bright orange sign that calls for the removal of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from power. Although BLMLA was the official overseer for the event, other organizations showed up in solidarity to amplify their voices. “We need moms out here, we need lawyers out here, we need teachers, musicians… we need actors,” Hershberger said. “We’re in Hollywood man, why isn’t every prominent voice out here demanding Trump’s removal?”
A protester on a bicycle fixes a “Trump/Pence OUT NOW” sticker on their bag.
The planned portion of the protest featured speeches from members of BLMLA, including Akili, a prominent organizer within Black Lives Matter and a known advocate for protecting Black lives. After introducing the mission of the event, Akili gave a shoutout to the volunteers translating the event into American Sign Language to provide a more accessible platform for deaf protesters.
Half an hour into the event, a fleet of police cars pulled into the parking lot adjacent to the federal building. However, no police interference took place for the remainder of the event.
Protesters show their support from their cars parked along Veteran Avenue or by riding their bicycles around the intersection. They said they wanted to express their support without breaking social distancing guidelines.
Several unmasked counterprotesters disrupt the rally by arguing with the demonstrators. They were eventually driven out of the courtyard by the protesters, but remained at the location for several hours.
Erik, owner of Public Statement Apparel, burns sage to purify the atmosphere. He said that the counterprotesters are a religious group searching for publicity and distracting others from Black Lives Matter. “There’s a lot of detractors out, trying to take away from the movement that is right and just, and I don’t want y’all to misunderstand the situation,” he said. “The majority of Black people and the people that are out here are religious people, however, this is not a religious issue – it’s a social issue.”
Protesters form a wall along Veteran Avenue by linking arms to keep the counterprotesters out of the event.
A demonstrator redirects traffic along Wilshire Boulevard as hundreds of protesters block off the intersection. “It’s almost like we all have to be out here in the streets, because this is a fight for freedom,” Sierra Hudson, a protester and recent UCLA graduate, said. “This is a fight for democracy.”
The loudspeakers move along with the people, as speeches from BLMLA and their Youth Vanguard continue to take place in the middle of the street. Some protesters listen from vantage points around the perimeter of the intersection.
Van Nuys artist Blair Sebastian Toles has been seen handing out flowers at protests across Los Angeles since the death of George Floyd in May. The bunches of flowers are sponsored by those who cannot make it to the protest for various reasons.
The rally concluded with members of the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard reciting a quote from Assata Shakur’s autobiography: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”