Hours after authorities in Memphis, Tenn., released video of the police beating of Tyre Nichols, a protest Friday night in downtown Los Angeles grew tense, with LAPD officers in riot gear in a showdown with about 30 protesters remaining outside department headquarters.
By 10:15 p.m., insults and smoke of indeterminate origin filled the air as demonstrators shook and banged on a police car with an officer sitting inside.
About 100 people had gathered outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters earlier Friday evening after the release of video of the Jan. 7 beating of Nichols, who died three days later.
The protest march grew out of a candlelight vigil for Nichols and Keenan Anderson, who died this month after L.A. police pinned him to the ground and discharged a Taser on him at least six times in 42 seconds.
A small group of demonstrators has gathered in downtown L.A. for a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols and Keenan Anderson, who died in LAPD custody after being repeatedly struck with a TASER earlier this month in another police killing that has drawn intense scrutiny. pic.twitter.com/SUwrAma2VK
— James Queally (@JamesQueallyLAT) January 28, 2023
The group burned sage and hung signs calling for the abolishment of police over barricades around the LAPD’s headquarters. Barely an hour later, protesters tore the metal barriers down.
Before 8 p.m., a group rolled out a speaker and played audio of some of the footage released by Memphis police earlier in the day, including the portion where Nichols cried out for his mother.
“Y’all heard him scream for his mama. Why? Because he was running home,” one woman told the crowd. Loud chants of “F— the police” and “Whose streets? Our streets!” soon erupted.
Dozens of protesters and members of the media marched through downtown Los Angeles, carrying Black Lives Matter banners and smartphones along Broadway toward Grand Central Market around 8:20 p.m.
After convening back in front of LAPD headquarters, the protesters knocked down metal protective barriers between the hulking, angular building and the street.
By 8:50 p.m., under the reflective letters spelling out “Los Angeles Police Department” on the front of its compound near City Hall, someone had spray-painted in red the word “kills.”
Police officers with two-handed grips on black batons eyed protesters and reporters alike as Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” blared.
By 9:15 p.m., more police had shown up, some in riot gear, and sirens could be heard blaring along Main Street.
Shortly after 10 p.m., police officers in riot gear stood in a line across from the protesters, who yelled phrases at them including “kill cops” and “how does it feel to be afraid for your life?”