Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti didn't hold back when, while giving a press conference Wednesday about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests and the importance of getting tested for COVID-19, a 5.5-magnitude earthquake shook much of Southern California.
Pausing his address, Garcetti noted snarkily, "I was just informed too that we just had a large earthquake as if things couldn't get worse." The temblor felt throughout Riverside and Los Angeles counties, struck at about 6:30 p.m., about 10 miles south of Searles Valley in San Bernardino at a depth of nearly 4.3 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The earthquake hit at a time in which thousands of L.A. protesters were calling for an end to police brutality and justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Floyd died on May 25 in Minneapolis police custody after white officer Derek Chauvin was videotaped kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes as the 46-year-old black man pleaded he couldn't breathe. Amid protests calling for justice, Chauvin was arrested and is facing a second-degree murder charge. The other three officers involved in the arrest — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao — have all been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was an award-winning EMT, was shot eight times and killed by Louisville police in her own home on March 13 after they entered her house shortly after midnight on a no-knock warrant. No arrests have been made in her case, although on May 21, the FBI's Louisville office announced they were opening an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.
Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was killed on Feb. 23 after being chased while jogging by two white men, Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says the McMichaels shot Arbery, who was unarmed after they saw him exercising outside. Both men were charged with murder and aggravated assault after a video of the confrontation was circulated on social media last month.
Wednesday, Garcetti announced that he had scrapped plans to boost the Los Angeles Police Department's budget to $1.86 billion for the 2020-2021 fiscal year — up about $122 million over last year. "We need to make a firm commitment to change, not just with words but with action," he said during a press conference. He added, "We need to make sure that black Americans see an end to the days of murder in broad daylight and of traffic stops simply because of the color of their skin."