It was another Justice for George Floyd Protest for the history books in the City of West Hollywood on Sunday, June 7, 2020, starting at around 7:45pm. Thousands of people marched from Hollywood and Vine, where live news arial feeds showed a sea of over 20 thousand people holding signs and chanting the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the calls for justice in their untimely deaths at the hands of police.
I knew they were coming from east on Santa Monica Boulevard and passing through WeHo as they had in the past week or so. Police helicopters circled above the Boulevard and Sheriff SUVs sped up and down La Cienega Boulevard with sirens wailing.
West Hollywood deputies were in position with clunky riot gear to protect the Sheriff’s Station located at the San Vicente Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. Deputies also formed a barrier at La Cienega Boulevard with giant construction dumpsters and police vehicles. They were prepared for battle.
This was my third George Floyd/Breonna Taylor/Black Lives Matter/No Justice, No Peace WeHo protest in WeHo. It’s easy to forget we’re still in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic with so many people energized and united against racism. I say power to the People, but the People shouting with spittle spraying everywhere is not necessarily the safest environment even though the majority were raising their fists in the air with face coverings from ear to ear.
I wanted a different angle from the previous protests I shot on La Cienega and Santa Monica. I decided to climb one of the giant dumpsters barricading the flow of traffic into the better half of WeHo. To be honest, I also wanted to put some distance between myself and a potential COVID-19 infection. I figured COVID couldn’t get me from way up there.
It was like watching a tsunami pouring down Santa Monica Boulevard as videos and images reveal. The West Hollywood Sheriff Deputies were in position to block the street and divert the crowd south onto La Cienega Boulevard to keep them away from continuing through the city. They were not going to let the crowd pass and stood their ground. Police suspected some nefarious individuals were amongst the protestors and they wanted to do some damage to WeHo Sheriff’s station.
It was chilling watching the crowd descend upon the police, screaming “Fuck the police!” I captured the entire confrontation on my dumpster perch high above. One of the lead protestors approached a deputy to ask to be let through. The deputy pointed down La Cienega as the crowd became larger and louder around him. Then people started chanting, “Let us through! Let us through! Let us through!”
The cops were outnumbered. They had no choice but to budge. It was a short exchange and it was not long before the entire crowd spilled into the better half of WeHo. Four guys decided to move the dumpster to allow cars to drive through, as I was still straddling the edge of that steel crate. The dumpster slid to the side of the road and I almost fell in as can be seen from the shaky camera work at the end of the footage below—still, totally worth it. It was a beautiful sight, seeing all those young people being active, demanding justice, calling for an end to police brutality, and marching in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
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“I sat on top of one of the giant dumpsters that are being used to block the flow of traffic on the Santa Monica and La Cienega Blvd. intersections. I wanted an overhead shot of the protesters coming down Santa Monica Boulevard, and to be honest, I also wanted to put some distance between myself and a potential COVID-19 infection. The crowd was marching from as far as Hollywood and Vine with numbers as high as 20k, according to reports. The West Hollywood Sheriff Deputies were in position to block the street and divert the crowd south on La Cienega and to keep them away from continuing into the city. It was chilling watching the crowd clearly outnumber the police. I captured the entire confrontation from high above. The leader of the protest seemed to ask nicely to be let through and then the crowd stated chanting to be let in. The cops had no choice but to budge. As the entire crowd spilled into the ‘better half’ of WeHo, four guys decided to move the dumpster to allow cars to drive through… with me still straddling the edge from high above. It was so unexpected, that I almost fell into the dumpster as you can see from the shaky camera work at the end of this footage. Still, totally worth it. It was a beautiful sight seeing all those young people being active, demanding justice, calling for an end to police brutality, and marching in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.”—- from editor and publisher of WOHO TIMES @paulo_murillo – #wehotimes #westhollywood #weho #wehocity #blacklivesmatter #blm #wehonews #justiceforgeorgefloyd #justiceforahmaud #justiceforbreonnataylo #justiceforfloyd @wehocity @wehochamber
The crowd paused around Huntley and Santa Monica for a demonstration. It was happier and more festive than the protests the previous days. Cars were blaring music. People were dancing on the street and there was the presence of children, which contributed to some of the peacefulness.
The protestors made their way towards the San Vicente intersection to confront the West Hollywood sheriff deputies. A yellow wire barrier separated police from protesters and protestors from getting near the the Sheriff’s station. The local police were immediately called out for their riot gear—“Why you wearing riot gear? I don’t see no riot here!” and they chanted, “No justice! No peace! No Racist. Police.”
An image that will stay in my mind for years to come is that of the four heavily armed deputies using Rocco’s WeHo restaurant and bar as a lookout station to keep an eye on the crowd gathered at the Rainbow Crosswalk. Some people deem the Rainbow Crosswalks sacred ground for peaceful protests in the City of West Hollywood. It was a very surreal moment.
The crowd stayed for about an hour and pretty much cleared out by 9pm while restaurant patrons at places like Rocco’s and Fiesta Cantina looked up from their dinner plates.
It was definitely a protest for the West Hollywood history books.