Thousands March Through Downtown LA To Protest LAPD Slaying Of Ezell Ford

LOS ANGELES -- Thousands of protesters marched through downtown LA on Sunday afternoon to demand justice for Ezell Ford, the 25-year-old black man who was shot and killed by two police officers while walking down the street near his home on Aug. 11.

Although the protest had been planned and publicized for 3 p.m., a group had already gathered outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters around 2:30. Many present carried signs calling for an end to police brutality and justice for Ezell Ford and other unarmed civilians killed by police officers. One particularly striking sign spelled out "F*** the Police" in multicolored glitter paint.


The protesters ranged wildly in age, race, ethnicity and creed. Evelina Poston said she'd driven an hour and a half from San Bernardino because she was so disturbed by the LAPD's handing of the case. LA resident Sandra Nunez, who was there with her young daughter, said she had been inspired to come because her son is a black teenager.

"I not only fear gang members killing my son, I fear police killing my son," she said. "I feel helpless, because I don't know who will protect him from them."

Another local, David Bryant, a former member of the Nation of Islam, said he had been arrested while protesting in exactly the same place in 1992, after the trial for officers who had beaten Rodney King.

"That was over 20 years ago -- and here we go again. It's deja vu," he said. "But what else can you expect when you have prostitutes and cowards as politicians."

Some of the protesters wore the Guy Fawkes masks that members of the techno-anarchist group Anonymous use as their symbol. One who identified himself as "Tank the Gemini" said his group has been involved in the fight against police brutality for several years and that he sees the Ford case as a particularly egregious example of an ongoing trend.

By 3:20 p.m., the group had swelled to several hundred people -- too many to fit on the sidewalk outside police headquarters. One of the attendees, Kelly Kunta -- a thin, bearded black man wearing a rastacap -- started leading call-and-response chants calling for justice for Ford. The mood of the protesters became increasingly passionate as they joined in.

Soon, Kunta and several other activists started leading the group away from the LAPD headquarters on a march north on Main Street.

Here's a video from early in the march:

LAPD officers on motorcycles and bicycles escorted the group, stopping traffic on cross-streets along the route, as protesters walked a two-mile loop north and east of the headquarters; police helicopters often hovered above. Interactions between the officers and protesters were minimal but peaceful. In contrast to the mayhem in Ferguson, Missouri, this week, following the deadly shooting of Michael Brown, no violence was reported.

As the march wore on, hundreds more protesters joined in. By the time the group arrived at Union Station, the main Amtrak station in LA, several thousand people were marching.

The protesters chanted mantras as they walked. The most frequent cries included, "Justice for Ezell Ford," "No justice, no peace, no more racist police" and "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now." They also occasionally called for the LA district attorney to file murder charges against the police officers who shot Ford, and for an end to "murderin'-ass police."

A video from the march, in which the protesters demand justice for Ford:

The front of the group stopped periodically to sit down on the ground, put their hands up, and chant "Hands up, don't shoot," in what has become an unofficial slogan of the national movement against police brutality.

Around 4:45 p.m., the group arrived back at the LAPD headquarters and gathered in a massive circle in front on First Street. Several activists in succession manned the microphone to make specific demands for reform, including increased civilian oversight of police activities and mandatory body cameras on all police officers. Half an hour later, some of the protesters drifted away, but the bulk of those present continued their march south, down Main Street, toward the heart of downtown LA. A large group was still marching and chanting as night fell across the city.

Below are more photos from the march:

Ezell Ford Protest