After a day of smaller protests throughout the city, several thousand people gathered in Harvey Milk Promenade Park on Friday night to protest the police killing of George Floyd, who was suffocated by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, and police brutality around the country.
The marchers eventually made their way to Mayor Robert Garcia’s home in the Downtown area.
The demonstration is the largest since the May 31 protest that ended in a standoff between police and protesters, with police using less-lethal rubber bullets in an attempt to quell the crowd.
The protest started with speeches from leaders in the public square. At one point, Porter Gilberg, who is the executive director of the LGBTQ Center Long Beach, addressed the Citizens Police Complaint Commission of which Gilberg is a member, saying it was ineffectual in addressing police brutality, concluding with “the commission is a farce— I’m a commissioner.”
The commission investigates complaints against police officers, but it does almost all of its work behind closed doors and has limited power, relying mostly on the Long Beach Police Department’s own internal affairs investigations. The commission also only has the power to make recommendations and can be overruled by the city manager.
The protest centered around more than Floyd, including killings committed by Long Beach police.
“This is my brother,” Shawnese Armstrong said as she held a sign with the name Lionel Gibson written on it. “He was killed by the Long Beach PD in 2016, three days before his 21st birthday. I’m just here to show support because I’m living the pain every day.”
Gibson was shot in May 2016 while carrying an airsoft replica assault rifle in South Wrigley and talking to three individuals, prompting a phone call from a citizen who claimed Gibson was holding an Uzi, the Long Beach Police Department said at the time. The family filed a civil suit against the city.
After the speeches, the crowd began moving west on 3rd Street and north on Pine Avenue.
Police presence was minimal, with the protesters maintaining a peaceful demonstration. National Guard members were posted nearby at locations they have been at all week.
Thousands are now marching west on 3rd in Downtown Long Beach and north on Pine. pic.twitter.com/xkGaCxayDH
— Brian Addison (@BrianAddisonLB) June 6, 2020
Demonstrators marched through Downtown, moving south up Locust, then to Pine, eventually on to Ocean Blvd.
Police kept their distance and could be seen from a block out on streets running parallel to the protesters.
As nightfall descended, the crowd settled on the steps of the George Deukmejian Courthouse where protesters carried on chanting and cheering.
— Cheantay Jensen (@CheantayJensen) June 6, 2020
After some closing speeches, the protest ended about 9 p.m.
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