A well-organized, well-attended prayer vigil and community rally that began at Leimert Park early on Monday evening, was disrupted by a rowdy, angry and violent group of mostly young men on Tuesday night. The destruction-intent group was described by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck at an 11 pm press conference in the Crenshaw area as being made up about 150 people who reportedly vandalized Walmart, jumped on cars, broke windows in other nearby stores, and assaulted random people, including an attack injurying KCBS reporter Dave Bryan and his cameraman.
“The right of the many has been abused by the action of the few,” Beck said. The chief warned that on Monday he had allowed the protestors a lot of latitude, but that the latitude was about to vanish. “Parents, don’t send your children to protest in and around Crenshaw tomorrow,” Beck warned.
Mayor Eric Garcetti opened the 11 pm press conference by saying, “The verdict has ignited passions, but we have to make sure it doesn’t ignite our city.”
Garcetti was joined by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who spoke on similar themes. “Twenty-one years ago we witnessed what can happen when there’s a reaction to a verdict. I stand today to say a word about nonviolence…It’s the most effective way to communicate how to address injustice…”
Next up was City Councilman Bernard Parks who, like the other three, urged moderation: “You can protest. Your voices will be heard.” Parks asked demonstrators to focus on the “tragedy in Florida.” Instead, he said, “some people are trying to “create their own tragedy in the city of Los Angeles.
“This will not be tolerated after tonight.”
Community organizer Najee Ali, who was one of Monday night’s main rally organizers, was shaken by the melee caused by the splinter group or groups.
“I’m on my way home from one of the…craziest nights of my life,” he tweeted and posted on his Facebook page. “Its sad seeing our young people like that. To see them and what they did to innocent people was devastating.”
All officials stressed that the violent group was very much in the minority.
MEANWHILE, IN OTHER NEWS AROUND THE THE TRIAL OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN AND THE DEATH OF TRAYVON MARTIN…
Along with the ongoing news reports, editorials and the Op Eds, a series of pain and grief-laden essays by parents continue to appear. Here are a couple we didn’t think you should miss—one from New York, the other from LA.
“WHAT DO I TELL MY BOYS NOW?” A FATHER ASKS
Among the most emotionally affecting in the newest crop is this essay by NY Times columnist, Charles Blow. Here’s a clip from the essay’s end. But please read the whole:
…Sometimes people just need a focal point. Sometimes that focal point becomes a breaking point.
The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what black men in America must constantly fight. It is pervasive in policing policies — like stop-and-frisk, and in this case neighborhood watch — regardless of the collateral damage done to the majority of innocents. It’s like burning down a house to rid it of mice.
As a parent, particularly a parent of black teenage boys, I am left with the question, “Now, what do I tell my boys?”
We used to say not to run in public because that might be seen as suspicious, like they’d stolen something. But according to Zimmerman, Martin drew his suspicion at least in part because he was walking too slowly.
So what do I tell my boys now? At what precise pace should a black man walk to avoid suspicion?
And can they ever stop walking away, or running away, and simply stand their ground? Can they become righteously indignant without being fatally wounded?
Is there anyplace safe enough, or any cargo innocent enough, for a black man in this country? Martin was where he was supposed to be — in a gated community — carrying candy and a canned drink.
The whole system failed Martin. What prevents it from failing my children, or yours?
I feel that I must tell my boys that, but I can’t. It’s stuck in my throat. It’s an impossibly heartbreaking conversation to have. So, I sit and watch in silence, and occasionally mouth the word, “breathe,” because I keep forgetting to.
But read what Blow wrote in the lead up—especially if you are a parent. Even more, if you are the parent of a boy, whatever color.
WHAT DO WE TELL THE CHILDREN?”
LA Times columnist Sandy Banks told how she is struggling painfully with similar questions, as do her friends. Again, please read the whole thing. But here’s a representative clip:
What do we tell the children?
That’s the cliched question we trot out when we’re confounded by cases like this. This time, for black parents at least, it’s more than rhetoric.
Lawrence Ross is an Inglewood author who travels to colleges around the country, counseling and encouraging black students. Ross is also the father of a 14-year-old boy, whose favorite show of independence these days is walking alone to the 7-Eleven near their gated community.
Ross has spent years teaching his son to be safe and not fall prey to others’ fears:
If you’re driving and the police stop you, put both hands on the dashboard, so the officer can see you don’t pose a threat. If you’re in the elevator alone with a white person, speak so they’ll know you’re articulate and they don’t have to fear you.
But the verdict delivered a message that mocks those parental pretensions: “The world has just been told that my son is [going to be] the aggressor,” Ross said. “That he has no right to exist without question or explanation. That’s devastating to me.
“I want him to walk out in the world as a productive and kind adult, without burdening him with all the sociological issues this country brings.” But he also can’t afford to let naivete disarm his boy.
“What is the safe point? That’s the conundrum. That’s what makes this resonate so strongly.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: As a mother, my heart tears open reading these accounts.
My own son is now 27, married, and living in the Bay Area with a fabulous job. In his skateboarding, fence jumping, late-night-walking, risk-taking, hormone-fraught teenage years, he mostly wore a beanie, not a hoodie.
And, most crucially, he is white.
But these essays still make me sob, and make me thankful that my cherished tall boy, the light of my life, is grown. To be honest, I’m also grateful that in his edgiest, scariest adolescent moments (and without going into detail, suffice it to say, that there were a few very scary times) I never had to deal with the added fear that race still brings into the mix.
Many of my other friends cannot say the same. And I grieve with them.
I grieve for all of us.
AND IN STILL OTHER TRIAL-RELATED NEWS…
ZIMMERMAN TRIAL JUROR MANAGES TO SIGN WITH HOT SHOT BOOK AGENT 36 HOURS AFTER THE (SATURDAY) VERDICT? REALLY? – UPDATED
TUESDAY UPDATE – Book agent Sharlene Martin decides to recind the deal to represent Jurer B37 after watching the woman’s interview with Anderson Cooper, calling the contract a “grave mistake.”
LA Times reporter Hector Tobar makes an interesting observation in his story on Tuesday about the fact that a Zimmerman trial juror, the woman known as “Jurer B37,” somehow magically managed to have signed with a book agent by first thing Monday morning, meaning she and her attorney husband were very, very busy on Saturday night after the verdict, and on Sunday—either that OR the agency-representation-signing timeline is a little less attractive and ethical than anyone has yet admitted.
Here are the relevant clips from Tobar’s story:
Over the weekend, while thousands of people in various cities across the United States were protesting the George Zimmerman trial verdict, one of the six jurors in the trial was apparently quite busy on the phone—with a literary agent.
The not guilty verdict in the shooting of Trayvon Martin came on Saturday evening. And on Monday morning, the woman known as “Juror B37,” and the juror’s husband, had signed an agreement to be represented by the Los Angeles-based Martin Literary Management agency, as announced by the agency’s president, Sharlene Martin.
Anyone who’s ever tried to reach a literary agent over the weekend will question the timing of said announcement, which came less than 36 hours after the jury found Zimmerman not guilty of all counts. Is it possible that Juror B37, or her husband, was in contact with the agency before the six-woman jury even began to deliberate? And might a desire to transform her experience as a juror into a marketable story have influenced B37’s view of the case?
Good (and very discomforting) question.
Just so you know, Tobar, in addition to his work at the LA Times, is a talented and well-regarded novelist, meaning he’s familiar with such things as getting agents on the phone over any given weekend.
So, yeah, all you jurors, make literary and TV movie deals, if you can manage it. God speed! But it would have been comforting to know that all the deal hustling waited at least until after the deliberations over a very painful murder trial had been safely completed.
AND WHY WAS B37 ON THE JURY AT ALL? ASKS SLATE’S DAHLIA LITHWICK AND A STRING OF LAWYERS
Aside from the oddly-timed book deal deal it seems B37 is a bit of a quirky girl.
Here’s a clip from Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick’s story that questions “Why her?” with regard to B37’s selection.
Less than two days after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin, juror B37, one of the six members of the anonymous panel, signed with a literary agent to shop her book about the trial.
The news comes with a bonus video: juror B37’s entire voir dire captured on film and promoted today by Gawker. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Sadly the GAWKER voir dire video has since been yanked from YouTube, but here’s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> another.] The process by which counsel on each side of the case interviews prospective jurors is revealing in all kinds of ways, and a useful lesson in the strengths and weaknesses of the jury system. In the case of B37, it is also master class on how to not know anything about something everyone else knows about.
Start with the general observations already raised in Gawker: B37 consumes no media beyond the Today Show—no radio, no Internet news and no newspapers used for anything but lining her parrot cage. Perhaps because she does not consume any media, she was under the false belief that there were “riots” after the Martin shooting. She also described the Martin killing as “an unfortunate incident that happened.”
But the tape raises another question that should be debated in every trial advocacy class in America: What were the lawyers, especially the prosecutors, thinking when they seated her? Why didn’t prosecutors use one of their peremptory challenges to nix her? She’s contrarian, she raised serious ontological doubts about the nature of truth-seeking, and she was only ever truly animated on the subject of rescue birds…
TOMORROW WE WILL BE BACK TO OUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING…
We have several stories that got bumped because the Trayvon stories seemed pressing.
Among other things, at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the LASD’s jail building proposals will be presented….so stay tuned.