LOS ANGELES — It was the kind of scene that, it seems, only this tumultuous year of 2020 could produce.
With the National Guard patrolling the streets of Los Angeles after several nights of looting, violence and fires, hundreds of people gathered downtown to protest the death of George Floyd and police brutality against so many other black people. After weeks of calls for strict social distancing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Eric Garcetti joined the crowd, took a knee and pulled down his blue Los Angeles Dodgers face mask to speak.
As he spoke, chants rang out: “Defund the police!”
Los Angeles County was, yet again, under a sweeping overnight curfew, and the nation was on edge after seven nights of chaotic protests and threats by President Donald Trump to deploy “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers” to American cities.
At the protests downtown, many of those gathered Tuesday decried comments made by Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore, who said looters across Southern California over the weekend were “capitalizing” on Floyd’s death.
“We didn’t have protests last night — we had criminal acts,” Moore said during a news conference with Garcetti on Monday night. “We didn’t have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd — we had people capitalizing. His death is on their hands as much as it is those officers.”
Moore apologized minutes later, saying he “misspoke when I said his blood is on their hands” and that he regretted “that characterization.”