By Terry Miller and Shel Segal
LAPD and other agencies remained on Tactical Alert Tuesday as a precaution against backlash from the Trayvon Martin murder acquittal of George Zimmerman last Saturday.
Police declared an unlawful assembly in South Los Angeles before 10 p.m. Monday after a group of demonstrators protesting the acquittal of George Zimmerman allegedly committed assault, vandalized businesses and jumped on stopped cars.
One eyewitness said it was “eerily like the post Rodney King trial that started the 1992 LA Riots.” Meanwhile, most incidents have thus far been somewhat isolated.
There were over a dozen arrests Monday night, one for “inciting a riot” and 13 for failure to disperse upon orders of LAPD. Six of those arrested were juveniles .
Monday was the third night of demonstrations in the Los Angeles area by those infuriated by a six-woman Florida jury’s acquittal of Zimmerman who killed unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. He was found Not Guilty of all charges.
There have also been reports of those who want to take justice into their own hands and “eliminate” Zimmerman.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said the department was “sorely disappointed” by the behavior of about 150 people who broke away from a peaceful vigil Monday night “and vandalized and assaulted” the Crenshaw area.
Demonstrations began occurring in California Saturday evening, when word of the Florida verdict arrived. Trouble has repeatedly occurred in Oakland and in Los Angeles, particularly in the Crenshaw district southwest of downtown.
The newly inaugurated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told a late-night press conference that the trouble was caused by people exploiting the situation.
“The trial that we saw in Florida has ignited passions but we have to make sure that it will not ignite the city,” Garcetti said.
“We are outraged and heartbroken over the verdict,” NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement. “We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed.”
In another bizarre and violent reaction to Trayvon Martin’s killer’s acquittal, a woman attacked one of the former Chamber Brothers, Lester Chambers as he was performing on stage at the Hayward Music festival.
The Mercury News reports the altercation took place once a 43-year-old woman, Dinalynn Andrews Potter, reportedly jumped on stage and knocked down the former Chambers Brothers member while he performed Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.”
Ironically, one of the Chambers’ Bros’ number one hits in the 1970’s was : ” Love , Peace and Happiness.” As was ” To love somebody.”
In Pasadena on Wednesday however the mood was more peaceful:
It might have happened nearly 3,000 miles away, but for some here in the San Gabriel Valley it has hit a lot closer to home.
With George Zimmerman being acquitted by a Florida jury on July 13 of killing Trayvon Martin in February 2012, more than 100 people gathered at the First African Methodist Episcopalian Church of Pasadena on Wednesday evening to pray and walk in memory of the 17-year-old boy.
Rev. Melanie Mays said people here want those to know what was done to Martin was wrong and made even worse by not punishing Zimmerman.
“There is a feeling of injustice of what was done to a young black man in Florida,” said Mays, who has been with the church for seven years. “Just to unite under that and develop a dialogue of peace with our church and our community. Just from the recent week, the last few days, the rioting and the nonsense things that have been happening, I think it is very important that we show a face of what the church is. The church is about peace and understanding and writing to right wrongs.”
Martin was an African American boy who was shot and killed by Zimmerman – who is white and Latino – in Florida during an altercation. Zimmerman, who was 28 at the time of the shooting, was acquitted by a six-member, all-female jury that had five whites on it.
Zimmerman’s acquittal has prompted many to accuse the justice system as having a racial bias and has sparked out-of-control riots in south Los Angeles.
Mays added she thinks the jury got it wrong this time.
“I believe they could have made a better decision,” she said. “They made the decision based on how they perceived it, but we do feel it was incorrect. In this situation we felt like it was a slap in the face.”
In addition, Mays said while she does not condone the violence that has swept into south Los Angeles following the verdict, she does understand why it is happening.
“When it comes to those young individuals I think what it comes down to is it’s another way to shout out and say, ‘We feel hurt,'” Mays said. “‘We feel abused, we feel we’re not treated fairly by the police, we’re already suspects and we’re already thought to be losers.’ That hurts and so they hurt back. Their souls cry out and lash out at whatever they can lash out at. On a deeper level I’m sure they’re not even cognizant that they’re tearing down their own neighborhood.”
The march attracted 21-year-old college student Natalya Romo to come all the way from the San Fernando Valley. Romo said more needs to be done in Martin’s memory.
“I feel that there are many people who look at this situation from all spectrums of races and feel that race is not involved and I feel that race is involved,” said Romo, who is attending Howard University in Washington D.C. “It is an injustice that someone is let off the hook for killing a black young man. Just the fact that someone was let off while someone is laying in a casket is not right. I feel that shows the value of a black man’s life in this country. The priority isn’t there.”
Pasadena resident Barbara McPheeters agreed.
“We’re going to have to stick together and we’re going to have to fight for justice,” she said.