(Chelsea Rose Westman/Daily Bruin)
This post was updated Dec. 20 at 8:59 p.m.
Soon after Joe Biden was confirmed as president-elect, rumors circulated that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti could be on the shortlist for Biden’s Cabinet. Protesters demonstrated from Nov. 24 to Wednesday in front of the mayor’s home, the Getty House, in response to the rumors. The crowd of protesters varied in size each day, ranging from less than 30 to more than 100 people.
United under #BlockGarcetti on social media and led by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, activists protested Garcetti’s possible appointment to Biden’s Cabinet, using as an example Garcetti’s mishandling of LA’s homelessness count, which has increased 12.7% from 2019. BLM LA and other activist groups have also scrutinized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and oversight of the LAPD. On Thursday, Garcetti said he would remain mayor of LA for now, citing the ongoing pandemic as his reason.
To commence each protest in front of the Getty House, Tabatha Jones Jolivet pours libations, an act of tribute through pouring water out, and says the name of a Black person who was killed by police or historical figures important to the movement. Each time a name is said, Tabatha pours a libation to honor their name and memory, and the crowd echoes “Ashay.”
“Ashay” or “Ashe” means something similar to “Amen” or “Be with us” in African American culture, according to Will Coleman of Cross Currents magazine. The crowd members shout names of people who they wish to honor – people whose deaths were widely publicized, such as George Floyd or victims of police violence who they knew personally. The assortment of names changed every morning.
A protester holds his arms up after the crowd chants “Ashay,” paying his respects to all of the Black lives that have been lost because of police brutality.
Demonstrators use a white Volkswagen Beetle to block off Wilshire Boulevard and march down toward Garcetti’s mansion.
Protesters dance, chant, beat drums and play loud instruments to wake up Garcetti, starting at 9 a.m. each day.
Sam Wohl, an activist with White People 4 Black Lives, wears a coat that says “Defund Police.” This jacket was his signature. People tapped him on the back and found him in crowds by searching for words written in bright yellow paint.
Protesters listen to a series of BLM members speak about the brutality they faced Dec. 6 when police used batons against many peaceful demonstrators for using bullhorns in front of the mayor’s residence.
BLM member Nick Ballard speaks out about the progress they have made as an organization and the importance of showing up every day, even if they are unsuccessful.
“What we are doing is seeing each other’s faces, and we are understanding that we have power when we work collectively,” Ballard said. “We are understanding who other people are, what other organizations are doing. … That’s part of building a movement.”
Every Sunday, BLM members distributed food to demonstrators as part of the peaceful organizing in front of the mayor’s residence.
Posters and signs called on Cabinet decisionmakers to block Garcetti from the transportation secretary position after he was not selected for the Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary position.
Some of the days, protesters picked a theme for their organizing. Day 20 focused on the call to cancel rent.
Continuing their march past Crenshaw Boulevard, the protesters carried drums and speakers, which projected their voices down the street. After wrapping up for the day, protesters marched back from the route they started.
From the mayor’s residence back toward Wilshire Boulevard, they could be seen chanting and dancing down the block.
Members of BLM, along with protesters and allies take a group photo in front of the mayor’s mansion, signifying their efforts to block Garcetti from being appointed to president-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet as transportation secretary.
Marching down Wilshire Boulevard and away from the Getty House, the Harbor Building on Crenshaw and Wilshire boulevards can be seen with #BlackLivesMatter posted on the fifth-story windows.
The march passes by Wilshire United Methodist Church on its way. A doorway carving on one of the entrances is a quote from evangelist John R. Mott: “Any idea or ideal that you would have dominate a nation must first lay hold of its youth.”
A couple in their apartment cheers and chants as the crowd passes by. One BLM leader, Baba Akili, brought everyone to a halt to wave and say “Good afternoon” to the couple. They raised fists to salute everyone in return.
AJ Toussaint, an alumnus of the UCLA School of Law, waves his Black Power fist flag as the leaders of the protest say their final words.
As the next day of organizing kicked off, protesters banged their drums and chanted, “Garcetti is the worst man in the nation. Don’t pick him for transportation!” It was followed by, “Black lives, they matter here.”
Clemcy Clemons directed and halted traffic to keep the cluster of activists safe from oncoming traffic as the march headed out from Harold A. Henry Park and toward the Getty House. Clemons holds a flag of Ethiopia spray painted with the Black Power fist and “BLM.”
After libations were poured and the chanting meant to wake up the mayor finished, the demonstrators stretched and did light yoga together to wake up and reinvigorate after weeks of protesting.
Left: BLM LA organizer Melina Abdullah speaks first in the morning to set the tone for the day. She spoke on the inherited belief and power Black people brought over from Africa and how those beliefs had been passed down through music and culture.
Right: Pastor Stephe “Cue” Jn-Marie of The Church Without Walls spoke on Garcetti’s neglect of people experiencing homelessness, particularly Skid Row. Jn-Marie’s church is often known as “The Row Church” for its location on Skid Row and activism on the behalf of people experiencing homelesness. He also spoke on the role of music and spirituality within the BLM movement.
BLM speakers later organized all of the protesters to call the mayor’s office at the same time in an attempt to block Garcetti from obtaining the Cabinet position.
The morning of the following day, day 23, protesters marched from Harold A. Henry Park to the Getty House. Many brought instruments and noise makers to boost the volume of the crowd and to rally everyone’s energy through music and marching beats.
A protester waves a flag in front of Garcetti’s residence, signaling Tuesday’s theme of #DefundThePolice.
Toussaint sits and listens to the Board of Police Commissioners meeting held by LAPD every Tuesday over Zoom and open to the public.
The crowd gathered around to listen to the meeting, in which the LA Police Commission would rule whether the killing of Daniel Hernandez by Officer Toni McBride was within reason. Hernandez was killed in April by McBride, whose father is police union director Jamie McBride. At the start and end of the meeting, the family of Hernandez spoke about his death and what their lives have been like in the months that followed.
A protester listens to the meeting on their phone. People joined the Zoom meeting and virtually raised their hands so that they might be selected to speak on the meeting’s items, such as the next year’s budget for the LAPD or the then-upcoming ruling on Hernandez’s death.
A wireless speaker playing the police commission’s virtual meeting is placed in front of the mayor’s home, where protesters listened to live statements from the family of Hernandez about the treatment of Hernandez’s death by the LAPD.
Protesters fly flags representing Harriet Tubman and the Black Panthers as they wrap up a day of supporting the family of Hernandez, calling for justice and unifying in front of the mayor’s residence.
A protester marches away from the mayor’s house with a flag raised high in the air.
Wednesday was the last day of the protests before Garcetti announced his commitment to remain mayor of LA and refuse the Cabinet position. Although he cited the current state of the pandemic in LA as his reason to stay, BLM LA’s Instagram claimed the decision was a result of the protests.
On Thursday morning, the street in front of the Getty House was empty and quiet.