Los Angeles Police Department officers were seen striking protesters with batons during peaceful demonstrations in the Fairfax district in videos shared by How to Get Away with Murder actor Matt McGorry on Twitter. McGorry's brief video from Saturday shows two police officers in full riot gear swinging at peaceful protesters to clear them off the sidewalk. It is not clear if any of the protesters were seriously injured.
McGorry attended the Saturday protest in the Fairfax district, as well as another protest in Santa Monica on Sunday. He told The Hollywood Reporter he was hit by a rubber bullet during the Fairfax protest. He said it was important "as a white person to understand the moral obligation of ending the oppression of black people," adding that it was not just an act of charity, "but something I believe as white folks we need to find our personal stake in, to have any sort of moral integrity."
More police brutality from the @BLMLA @WeBldPwr protest yesterday where cops starting swinging batons and shooting projectiles at people simply standing there with there hands up. pic.twitter.com/ibkKfZoAB3— Matt McGorry (@MattMcGorry) May 31, 2020
The LAPD did not directly comment on the incident seen in McGorry's video. Instead, the department sent ABC7 a statement on the protests of police brutality this past week. "Protests, marches, and demonstrations over the last several days have been often dynamic and at times dangerous situations for both officers and demonstrators," the statement read. "A number of these gatherings have unfortunately devolved into chaos with rocks, bottles, and other projectiles being launched at police officers, who have sustained injuries that range from cuts and bruises to a fractured skull."
The protests began after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer after he was arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. The officer, Derek Chauvin, kept his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, until Floyd lost consciousness. Chauvin and three other officers at the scene were fired and are facing charges. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Another time this same “Officer Clark” instigates violence with protestors while they are simply standing there pic.twitter.com/oau5kO6eyE— Matt McGorry (@MattMcGorry) May 31, 2020
Several viral videos have highlighted the extreme tactics from police across the country. On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said there needs to be new statewide standards on how police handle peaceful protests. "Protesters have the right not to be harassed," Newsom said, reports ABC7. "Protesters have the right to protest peacefully. Protesters have the right to do so without being arrested, gassed, and shot up by projectiles."
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti embraced calls to defund the police. The LAPD was set to see its budget climb to $1.86 billion for 2020-2021, but Garcetti instead said the budget would be cut $100 million to $150 million, reports NPR. Garcetti said the protests are "a movement to change who we are in America when it comes to black America and our criminal justice system."