Today, Mayor Eric Garcetti called for Trayvon Martin demonstrators to “practice peace,” with LAPD chief Charlie Beck and numerous African American leaders joining Garcetti at a press conference in South Los Angeles.
The mayor is hoping that street protests will calm in the coming days, but the Rev. Al Sharpton and other folks may have other plans for L.A.. On Saturday morning, Sharpton's civil rights group, the National Action Network, will hold a rally at the federal courthouse on Spring Street in downtown.
“It's not over,” Sharpton said Monday on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, a nationally syndicated radio show. “It's not over. And we are going to make sure it's not over, that's why we're calling people to … organize in your city. I don't care if it's 20 people, we want to show the nation that over 100 cities a week later is still demanding justice. We're not having a fit, we're having a movement.”
That may wreck Garcetti's plans on a few fronts.
First, L.A.'s new mayor — he's only been in office since July 1 — was hoping to get back to the East Coast after his trip there was interrupted by the Trayvon Martin protests on Saturday and Sunday.
Over the weekend, Garcetti governed thousands of miles away in Pittsburgh via the Internet, asking Angelenos through his Twitter account to protest peacefully.
In a city of four million people, Garcetti has 17,062 followers on Twitter. Not everyone may have gotten the mayor's message — Garcetti returned to L.A. on Monday, just in time for more protests last night.
Garcetti's spokesman Yusef Robb says the mayor may still go to Washington D.C. in the next few days, but a lot depends on what happens on L.A.'s streets tonight. Robb also says Sharpton has not talked with the Mayor's Office.
At today's press conference at Dorsey High School, Garcetti was joined by such African American political leaders as L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks, L.A. City Councilman Curren Price, and L.A. Unified School District Board Member Marguerite LaMotte. They were joined by LAPD chief Charlie Beck.
In other words, much of L.A.'s political establishment showed up and preached calm. It's hard to know if the Millennial generation will listen.
With the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the core of the federal Voting Rights Act in June, when poor neighborhoods in South Los Angeles look just as poverty-stricken as back in 1992, when South Los Angeles high schools such as Dorsey consistently receive poor rankings, and when an unarmed, 17-year-old African American man is shot dead, teenaged and twenty-something blacks and Latinos may not be in the mood to listen to leaders of institutions that have continually let them down.