The City of West Hollywood was overwhelmed with massive crowds on Santa Monica Boulevard yesterday during protests for the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, who both lost their lives at the hands of police officers. The demonstrations were called for justice in their deaths, an end to police brutality and calls for solidarity with Black Lives Matter. The rallies were peaceful, but lasted longer than previous demonstrations that have been hitting the heart of the city for the past week.
As one protest near Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood marched towards West Hollywood, protestors from a second event, the Justice for Breonna Taylor rally at Pan Pacific Park on Beverly Boulevard also made their way toward WeHo on the day that would have been Breonna Taylor’s birthday. Taylor was shot and killed when police mistakenly shot her. She would have been 27 yesterday.
The two marches collided at the intersection of San Vicente Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard where large dumpster bins were blocking the flow of traffic into WeHo’s Boystown at about 3pm. One group marched from the east side of Santa Monica past West Hollywood City Hall. Another group came from Sunset Boulevard, but the largest crowds came from the Pan Pacific Park protest, which headed up La Cienega Boulevard and turned west on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Most of the marchers kept moving towards Beverly Hills, but part of the group stayed behind and confronted West Hollywood Sheriff Deputies who were heavily armed with riot gear when they formed human shields preventing protestors from moving north or south to San Vicente Boulevard from Santa Monica Boulevard. Their presence incited the crowd, which chanted, “Who do you Serve? Who do you protect,” and “Why are you wearing riot gear? I don’t see no riot here?”
The chanting lasted for almost three hours. A National Guardsman said this was the longest he witnessed in West Hollywood. He noted that crowds usually keep moving towards Beverly Hills and gather at the Beverly Hills sign at Lily Pond. He said the extra security was needed because of some riot instigators among the protestors.
This was also the longest standoff with the West Hollywood Sheriffs. In past protests, the sheriffs have moved aside to let protesters keep moving through. At this protest, armed deputies in riot gear stood on the rooftop of Rocco’s sports bar, which seemed to escalate the intensity of the protest and contribute to the three-hour standoff.
And just when the situation started to settle down, a massive wave of new protesters converged onto Santa Monica Boulevard, heading east from Beverly Hills. The few cars that made their way past the dumpster bins and into the protest began honking their horns and the chanting started up all over again.
Yesterday’s protests mark another weekend of demonstrations throughout Los Angeles County. Roughly 40 protests were planned throughout in Southern California yesterdday to condemn racism and call attention to the police tactics that caused the deaths of Ms. Taylor and George Floyd who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.
There were no reported injuries or arrests at yesterday’s rally.