By Stephen Oduntan
For the twenty-third day, they assembled outside Mayor Garcetti’s residence, cardboard signs and megaphones in hand. The air was crispier than when they began the crusade to “Block Garcetti” last month, but the unrelenting chant from the crowd on this warm December morning was familiar.
But when President-elect Joe Biden named former 2020 rival and South Bend, Indiana Mayor, Pete Buttigieg as his choice for the Department of Transportation yesterday, the news was welcomed with a mixture of cheers and measured triumph.
“Black Lives Matter South Bend have been criticizing Buttigieg for not having done enough as mayor to enforce accountability for police officers but as bad as he is, he’s still better than the useless mayor we have out here in Los Angeles,” said Baba Akili, an organizer with Black Lives Matter-LA.
The 72-BLM longtime activist said in an interview this morning that considering Biden did not select Garcetti for either the secretary of transportation or housing and urban development, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be picked for any cabinet position in the new administration.”
“But we have to keep up the pressure to make sure that he doesn’t get an appointment of any kind,” Akili said.
The demonstrations have been slamming the mayor’s record on transportation, homelessness and policing and that he shouldn’t be in charge of those policies let alone any other for that matter at a federal level.
Carrying signs and waving Black Lives Matter flags, the protesters sang “Middle fingers in the air, Garcetti ain’t going nowhere,” and chanted, “We Blocked Garcetti.”
Several of the demonstrators stood in front of the crowd of about roughly one hundred people and celebrated everyone’s contribution to the significant milestone.
Doowop Ashi, a demonstrator who identified herself as a “lone wolf out to protect the peaceful protesters of Los Angeles said her contribution to the Block Garcetti demonstration for the 17 of the 23 days she’d attended has been providing security.
“My contribution is doing what I can do in making sure that the protesters are kept safe from outside forces who are angry about our movement. They’re many people out there who are jealous and want to harm us, and so my job is to make sure everyone is safe coming and going from these protest,” she said.
“We’re not done. We’re going to continue to fight and continue to win until we reach the ultimate victory,” said Melina Abdullah to the crowd.
Abdullah, a co-founder of BLM-LA, told LA Focus that today’s gathering was the last “Block Garcetti” demonstration.
Protesters first showed up on Nov. 24.
Each day, the protesters were met by a line of at least 22 masked police officers outside the mayor’s home.
The demonstrations were always peaceful.
But then Garcetti would later come under fire from lawmakers after viral footage circulated on social media on Sunday morning Dec. 6 showing LAPD officers swinging their batons, and striking at least two unarmed demonstrators.
In the ensuing days, LAPD officers in riot gear were no longer seen standing guard outside the mayor’s house and the surrounding street.
“This is a testament to the power of our people, to the power of being consistent and being courageous in our vision and standing up every day,” said Abdullah. “Think about the power of that. That for 23 days people gathered and met up at 8 AM, every morning in the midst of a pandemic. We stared down white supremacy in the face. We blocked this white supremacist liberal from getting a cabinet position.”