The Faces of the Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles Encampment at City Hall

Melina Abdullah, a founding member of BLMLA, is a guiding presence of the encampment.
Melina Abdullah, a founding member of BLMLA, is a guiding presence of the encampment.
Sam Slovick

The Black Lives Matter-L.A. encampment in downtown Los Angeles is now in its 29th consecutive day of occupation. The spontaneous, direct action began on July 12 in response to the Los Angeles Police Commission's ruling that the 2015 police killing of Redel Jones, a 30-year-old black woman, did not violate the department's deadly-force policy.  

Some 20 tents went up just across the street from the mayor's office when BLMLA members were refused admission to a City Hall meeting in process.

“Fire Chief Beck” became a mantra woven throughout the encampment and is at the top of BLMLA’s list of demands. “For this action, the goal is for Charlie Beck to go. As soon as the mayor fires Charlie Beck, we’re gonna pack up and go home,” says Melina Abdullah, a founding member of BLMLA. The professor, and Pan-African Studies department chair at Cal State Los Angeles, recently reflected on what they’ve created at City Hall. “We’re building the community we want to live in,” she said during a recent visit, before excusing herself to help unload a car that had pulled up to drop off supplies.

Here at the encampment, there's a well-stocked food tent. There's also a daily schedule on a dry-erase board that tells the story of the daily routine: meditation, community-building workshops, meals, poetry, dance, yoga, bodywork and music.

Abdullah describes BLMLA as a “womanist, black nationalist organization with a queer and trans lens."

"We’re very conscious of the power and spirit [that]women are the founders of the movement, [and] as women being those who drive it forward,” she says.

L.A. Weekly has been checking in with the encampment over the last few weeks, and below are some images of the people participating in downtown L.A. 

Trevor Gerard has been camping since the first day of the occupation.“The call for justice demands that I be here," he says.
Trevor Gerard has been camping since the first day of the occupation.“The call for justice demands that I be here," he says.
Sam Slovick
BLMLA member Amari Shakur has been in the camp since its inception on July 12, when the spontaneous action began.
BLMLA member Amari Shakur has been in the camp since its inception on July 12, when the spontaneous action began.
Sam Slovick
Marshawn (aka Sensei) rises with the sun to practice yoga an hour before the LAPD shows up to the camp.
Marshawn (aka Sensei) rises with the sun to practice yoga an hour before the LAPD shows up to the camp.
Sam Slovick
General Jeff keeps a watchful eye on the camp a stone’s thrown from Skid Row, just down the street and around the corner from County Jail. “I’m just keeping things safe,” he says.
General Jeff keeps a watchful eye on the camp a stone’s thrown from Skid Row, just down the street and around the corner from County Jail. “I’m just keeping things safe,” he says.
Sam Slovick
Brown and black unity is an ongoing theme at the encampment, including a presence of the Brown Berets.
Brown and black unity is an ongoing theme at the encampment, including a presence of the Brown Berets.
Sam Slovick
Breeze, a skater from Louisiana, was in town to attend trade school. He says he joined the group to be a part of something. “I feel good here. I want to be here with these people," he says.
Breeze, a skater from Louisiana, was in town to attend trade school. He says he joined the group to be a part of something. “I feel good here. I want to be here with these people," he says.
Sam Slovick
Protestors and supporters at the BLMLA encampment circle up each morning and evening.
Protestors and supporters at the BLMLA encampment circle up each morning and evening.
Sam Slovick

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