Author: Lilliane Ballesteros
A crowd of 50 people marched down the streets of Downtown Los Angeles to protest police brutality on October 2. The group was comprised of community members, organizers from the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) and several Occidental College students. The march moved from LACAN’s Headquarters on Main Street to the LAPD Headquarters, also known as the Parker Center, and ended at the police commission meeting, which was in progress by the time the protestors arrived.
LACAN organizes low-income communities to address issues within their communities. The LACAN website states, “The mission of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) is to help people dealing with poverty create and discover opportunities, while serving as a vehicle to ensure they have voice, power and opinion in the decisions that are directly affecting them.”
Student organizers Jasmine Wade (senior) and Siobhan Heard (senior) led a small group of students to the LACAN Headquarter via bus. Both Wade and Heard are interns at LACAN, where they heard about the protest. Their internship is a component of the class “Black Activism and the Archive in the Nineteenth Century” with Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies Gabrielle Foreman.
The organizers experienced problems when they tried to rent several Bengal Buses for Oxy students to attend the event. The Office of Student Life (OSL) requires that events must be registered prior to seeking funds from ASOC and/or using Bengal Buses. The group had not registered their event, OSL said. Furthermore, it is not customary for Oxy to provide transportation for protests because the College cannot ensure the safety of the students involved.
Heard said it was unclear to her whether the problem with trying to rent the Bengal Buses was due to the nature of the event or that it was not registered through Event Registration with Office of Student Life (OSL).
The protest was organized to commemorate the Safer Cities Initiatives anniversary. The Safer Cities Initiatives is an effort of the Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa and the LAPD to reduce crime in downtown Los Angeles, especially in the Central City East region of downtown Los Angeles known as Skid Row. “It is just an all-out war against Skid Row,” LACAN organizer Herman Jones said. The area is typically known for high crime and drug abuse.
“This was something that I felt like needed my support since so often this is a community that goes on ignored or misunderstood in urban centers,” Lauren Moffett (senior) said.
Once at the LAPD Headquarters, the protest featured speakers who spoke about their work in the community and the treatment they have witnessed in the Skid Row area. Poet Michelle Autry spoke about women in the area and the treatment they receive in low-income areas. “It’s like they have gone back to slavery,” she said.
Students who attended expressed what they viewed as a success for a small-scale protest. “The protest was empowering,” Rhonesha Buford (senior) said. “I got to experience the way in which 30 people speaking the truth can scare an entire police department.”
A larger protest is scheduled in downtown LA on Monday, October 22, which is National Day Against Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Over 500 people are expected to attend.
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