Los Angeles

Protesters Blast Garcetti After Town Hall Disruption

Garcetti: "People will shout, and people sometimes will be upset ... I'm just going to continue doing the work that I was elected to do''

An activist group on Tuesday blasted Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for abruptly ending a chaotic and tense town hall-style meeting about crime at a South LA church.

The mayor, members of the public, and city and church leaders held the meeting Monday to address a spike in crime. But Black Lives Matter protesters and other activists interrupted a speech by Garcetti at the meeting, then blocked his car as he attempted to leave.

"We wanted this to be a meaningful dialogue," said Malina Abdullah, of Black Lives Matter, a group pushing for greater awareness of police shootings in black communities. "The black community has something to say to the mayor. We want him to hear."

Mary Jones-Darks, a member of the West Area Neighborhood Council, who attended Monday night's meeting, decried the fact that others who had come to discuss issues from employment to transit were ignored.

The other people and their questions, they weren't answered and it was all about them," she said.

Members of Black Lives Matter have been critical of Garcetti over police shootings involving black suspects -- most notably the Los Angeles Police Department's fatal officer-involved shooting of Ezell Ford. They are demanding the mayor to fire Police Chief Charlie Beck who they claim is racist.

They also demand a halt to increased police patrols in crime infested neighborhoods and to stop what they believe is racial profiling by police. The group routinely protests at civilian Police Commission meetings and once confronted the mayor at his Windsor Square home.

Garcetti on Tuesday reacted to the incident on Tuesday at a groundbreaking ceremony for Kaiser Permanente's Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw medical office building, telling reporters, "People will shout, and people sometimes will be upset, and oftentimes it will come from a real place. I'm just going to continue doing the work that I was elected to do.''

No arrests were made during the disruption on Monday, according to LAPD officer Mike Lopez, but police were forced to clear a path for Garcetti's vehicle.

The community meeting was in its second hour at the Holman United Methodist Church when the unrest escalated.

One speaker accused Garcetti of "treating the symptoms" of a rising crime rate by sending more officers to troubled areas.

Other speakers shouted over each other.

"You can boo. You can do whatever you want," Garcetti said.

The meeting ended when protesters swarmed the church altar.

Conan Nolan contributed to this report.

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