Protests at Mayor Garcetti's home continue after arrest of demonstrators

Emily Alpert Reyes, Adam Elmahrek
The home of Mayor Eric Garcetti has been the scene of weekend protests by demonstrators calling for a moratorium on rents and by opponents of a plan to create a Community Safety Partnership Bureau within the LAPD.  (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Three people were taken into custody and two were cited over the weekend outside the Windsor Square home of Mayor Eric Garcetti, where hundreds of protesters converged to demand the mayor cancel rents, according to an LAPD spokesman.

After the arrests on Saturday, protesters demonstrated outside Garcetti's home on Sunday, in part to protest plans to build a Community Safety Partnership Bureau within the Police Department.

Joshua Rubenstein of the Los Angeles Police Department on Saturday said one person was arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer, a second was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, and a third was arrested on suspicion of trying to free an arrestee.

In addition, two others were cited and released for being a "pedestrian in a roadway," Rubenstein said.

Rubenstein said that toward the end of a largely peaceful demonstration, some people continued to block parts of the roadway, "creating a hazardous situation," and officers began to enforce traffic laws after warnings.

"When one of the traffic violators was stopped and advised he was going to be cited, a battery on a police officer occurred and the violator was taken into custody," Rubenstein said in a statement. "Other suspects became aware of the detention by the officers and attempted to surround the officers and additional assaults were committed against additional officers."

Protesters disputed that account, saying there was no warning before the arrests and that people had not attacked officers. Demonstrators at the Saturday event said that one of the people detained was a teenager who was dangling a doughnut on a string in front of officers.

Ian Carr, an organizer with the progressive group Ground Game LA, said that officers grabbed and handled the teenager roughly after he ran backwards away from them, then held the youth down in the back of a vehicle. Carr said he did not see the teen hurt any officers.

"People were screaming that he was epileptic," said Jordan Blakeman, a protester who writes for the website Knock.LA, which is affiliated with Ground Game LA. "He was absolutely being hurt, from the pitch of his screaming."

Protester Devon Young said she and her friends began filming what was happening to the teenager before being detained. Young said that one of her friends was beaten with batons and that at one point an officer knelt on her neck, leaving her vomiting afterward. They were loaded into a van with a third friend before Young was released with a citation, she said.

Young said that her two friends who were taken into custody were not violent toward officers. "I have it all on film — and the only thing I have is police brutalizing them," she said.

Rubenstein said in his statement that assaults on officers "caused the response of additional officers to bring the situation under control." The people who were detained were taken to the LAPD's Olympic Station, Rubenstein said.

A Garcetti spokesman did not immediately provide comment Saturday on the demonstration or the arrests.

The Saturday demonstration was one in a string of protests outside Garcetti's home. Demonstrators with the People's City Council, which includes activists from groups such as the Los Angeles Tenants Union, Ktown for All and NOlympics LA, toted banners and signs and brought mariachi musicians to play outside the mayoral residence, demanding that the city impose a blanket ban on evictions, cancel rents and commandeer hotels for homeless people.

During the protest, activists posted a "3-Day Notice to Cancel Rent or Quit" on a gate outside the home. At one point, demonstrators blocked a nearby stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, according to videos of the event posted on Twitter.

Tenant rights activists have urged city leaders to take additional action to prevent people from losing their apartments and sliding into homelessness, fearing a wave of evictions as expanded unemployment benefits expire. The state court system is considering lifting its emergency restrictions on processing eviction cases later this month.

The Los Angeles city attorney's office has warned against canceling rents, advising council members in a memo that it would violate the law and could cost the city more than a billion dollars in compensation to landlords. The council voted narrowly in April against imposing a broader ban on evictions after a city attorney argued it was unlikely to survive in court.

On Sunday, the demonstrations continued with dozens of protesters showing up early at the mayor's Windsor Square residence to denounce his policing initiative. Video posted on social media showed protesters gathered in front of the house, banging on anything they could find to make a racket and chanting expletives at the mayor.

Activists said they were incensed by Garcetti’s use of the words “reimagining public safety” to announce a new Community Safety Partnership Bureau, saying that the mayor co-opted words from their campaign to defund the police to instead announce a new police initiative.

Under the program, officers from the new bureau would help neighborhood residents come up with “sports, recreation, and other programs” intended to curb crime in their communities, according to a city statement. It would also assist in connecting people with employment training, counseling and other resources.

Activists said their “People’s Budget” calls for defunding the Police Department. Under their plan, they said, the money would be shifted to similar programs, but without police involvement.

“As long as the community continues to be assailed in this way and as long as he refuses to listen to us, we’re going to go to places where he has to listen, including his house,” said Melina Abdullah, a leader with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.

Another activist who goes by the name of Akili and who attended Sunday's rally agreed.

"We don't want social workers with guns," he said. "And the capacity to kill and arrest you."

Times staff writer Liam Dillon contributed to this report.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting.