Protesters demanding the firing of Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck accused Mayor Eric Garcetti of "conveniently" leaving town "during the midst of angst and anger from his African-American constituents on the issue of police brutality and killings," according to a statement from Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
The mayor's office denies the allegation.
Demonstrators began camping outside the mayor's residence in Windsor Square on Sunday morning and plan to do so on and off until tomorrow's Police Commission hearing on the Aug. 11 fatal shooting of 25-year-old African-American Ezell Ford by two LAPD officers.
The protest took shape after the Los Angeles Times on Friday reported that LAPD, including Beck and inspector general Alex Bustamante, has secretly decided the officers' actions were within department policy and therefore were justified.
Ford's death happened only a few days after the incendiary police shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
LAPD's internal conclusion will go to the Police Commission at 10 a.m. tomorrow for its (likely final) consideration. Ford, who was mentally ill, was shot in his side, back and arm during a struggle with cops, coroner's officials concluded. Police say he grabbed the gun of one of the officers and that he was on top of a lawman when the cop reached around and shot him in the back.
Demonstrators are calling for the Police Commission to deliberate in public. The agenda for tomorrow's meeting lists the Ford matter as a topic for a "closed session" discussion that will take place behind locked doors. Protesters also want a "policy for reparations" for families of those shot and "abused" by cops.
The Police Commission meeting is expected to draw a healthy crowd of protesters, said Jasmyne Cannick, who has been sending out statements on behalf of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
Los Angeles–area Congresswoman Maxine Waters and the Black Women's Forum in L.A. are encouraging people to show up at the Police Commission meeting. "Let's fill the commission board room!" a flier says.
Garcetti took off this morning for a meeting in Washington, D.C., his office says. A spokesman told us the trip was previously planned. He indicated it had nothing to do with the demonstration outside the mayor's home.
In a statement, Black Lives Matter said this:
This morning Mayor Garcetti decided to try and sneak out of the back door of his Hancock Park residence in an effort to avoid the black people out in front.
About 18 protesters were outside the Getty House at the time, Cannick said. The mayor, accompanied by plainclothes police officers that serve as his security detail, left in a black Chevrolet Suburban, taking a front seat and opening his window to engage with demonstrators.
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"We voted for you," one man told Garcetti. "My nephew is dead."
In a statement released today, the mayor said he reached out to Ford's mother. And he said he believes the Police Commission will do the right thing:
Last night I called Ms. Tritobia Ford. I didn't reach her but left a message, telling her my heart goes out to her and her grieving family, as it has since the news first broke last August. I look forward to meeting with her in the coming days. Trust and transparency are the foundation of the relationship between the Los Angeles Police Department and people it serves. I have confidence that the Police Commission will conduct an impartial and fair-minded review of the investigations conducted by both the LAPD and the independent Inspector General.