Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday faced calls to fire Police Chief Michel Moore after Moore said the death of George Floyd was on the "hands" of those inciting criminal acts at protests as much as the officers involved in Minneapolis.
While providing an update on Monday, alongside Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas, Moore reported the LAPD had made 700 arrests on Sunday night — 70 of those arrests, he said, were people "who were either burglarizing or looting, victimizing, businesses further."
"We didn't have protests last night. We had criminal acts," Moore said during the update, which was posted to Twitter. "We didn't have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd. We had people capitalizing. His death is on their hands, as much as it is those officers."
George Floyd's death was a homicide: Medical examiner and family-commissioned autopsy agree
He added, "That is a strong statement, but I must say, that this civil unrest that we’re in the midst of, we must turn a corner from people who are involved in violence. People who are involved in preying upon others."
Floyd's death, which has since been ruled a homicide by the county medical examiner in Minnesota, has prompted outrage worldwide. Floyd died after now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pinned to Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. Three other officers, who haven't been charged, were involved in the incident.
Immediately, Moore faced backlash for his comments. Twitter users replied to the video update posted on the mayor's page with calls to fire Moore. The chief attempted to clarify his words during the news conference. He said Floyd's death, "was at the hands of a police officer and the officers who stood by."
'I can't breathe': Fifth day of protesting gets underway in DC following eventful Monday night
"His death, a week later, has served a catalyst for a number of events, certainly protests. But some are using it as a catalyst to justify violence," Moore said. "I misspoke when I said his blood is on their hands, but certainly their actions do not serve the enormity of his loss and cannot be in his memory."
"I regret the remarks of that characterization, but I don't regret, nor will I apologize to those who are out there today committing violence, destroying lives and livelihoods, and creating this destruction. His memory deserves reform. His memory deserves a better Los Angeles, a better United States and a better world."
Moore tweeted, "There are 4 police officers and 4 alone responsible for the death of George Floyd."
He tweeted another apology later Monday night, again saying he misspoke.
"While I did immediately correct myself, I recognize that my initial words were terribly offensive," Moore said. "Looting is wrong, but it is not the equivalent of murder and I did not mean to equate the two. I deeply regret and humbly apologize for my characterization.
"Let me be clear: the police officers involved were responsible for the death of George Floyd."
The responsibility for George Floyd’s death rests solely with the police officers involved. Chief Moore regrets the words he chose this evening and has clarified them.
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) June 2, 2020
Garcetti also issued a statement on Twitter, saying Moore regretted "the words he chose."
The apologies did little to placate those calling for Moore's job. By Tuesday afternoon, Black Lives Matter protesters had showed up to Garcetti's home.
A crowd of more than 1,000 waved signs like "Prosecute Killer Cops" and "Who is the Enemy? White Supremacy" and engaged in chants as a line of Los Angeles police officers in riot gear blocked Sixth Street. The protesters, which broke the silence of the otherwise placid residential neighborhood, stayed peaceful. The mayor wasn't seen.
But one moment stood out.
At one point, police Cmdr. Cory Palka broke through the line of blue-clad officers, waded through the protesters and spoke directly to a tall, young African-American man. Together, the two dramatically walked a block down Irving Boulevard to Wilshire Boulevard, the main artery from the city to the westside, with large group of protesters in tow. There, they came upon another group of demonstrators waving signs at passing cars. And together, the police officer and the protester took a knee, joined by much of the crowd.
"We need to cross the line of separation," Palka later told reporters. He said walking a block, extending a handshake or a hug — yes, amid the coronavirus pandemic and, no, he didn't wear a mask — was a way to try to bridge the divide.
"We walked a block as a symbol the police and community are reuniting in Los Angeles," he added. "It's a step in the right direction."
Not all were buying it.
Kendrick Sampson, a social activist from nearby Hollywood, said Garcetti's residence was chosen because "he has blood on his hands" from police-involved shootings over the years. He said the mayor and police are promoting violence on otherwise peaceful demonstrators.
He showed off scars and bruises from police batons and rubber bullets from the previous' days protests. He said he took seven impacts from rubber bullets alone and one of his legs was bandaged. Garcetti, Sampson said, has been too strong of a defender of the LAPD.
"He stood by the police when they were wrong over and over again," he said.
He, like others in the crowd, called for defunding the police department and channeling money into housing, mental health and other social services.
Such a move, he said, "would make us safe. Police do not."
As nightfall and the city curfew came, the crowd diminished and was chanting, but police had not moved in.
In downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of protesters remained peaceful while at times kneeling en masse against police brutality and at others calling for Moore's resignation.
Carol Clayton of South L.A. rejected the chief’s explanation for his comments.
“Every police shooting, they blame everybody but the cop,” said Clayton, 47. “Now the chief is blaming people who weren’t even there.”
Contributing: Gus Garcia-Roberts, USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: George Floyd: LAPD chief Michel Moore apologizes for 'offensive' words