LOS ANGELES, CA–George Zimmerman's not guilty verdict in the death of Trayvon Martin elicited some strong reactions from residents of Los Angeles, a city that is no stranger to high profile court trials involving race and the media.
In the late hours of July 14 and the early morning hours of July 15, officers in Hollywood, Calif., tried to corral protesters upset with the verdict that came out of the Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Fla.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, Sheriff's Department, and California Highway Patrol wore riot helmets and carried night sticks in hand as they blocked off streets with about 30 squad cars, trying to disperse a 80+ person group of protesters who moved from Hollywood Boulevard to the intersection of Caheunga Blvd. and Sunset Blvd., just outside the Los Angeles headquarters of CNN. In the process, a number of protestors stormed the W hotel in Hollywood.
Once outside the CNN building, onlookers and local news stations witnessed officers fire non-lethal ammunition and detain a small number of protesters before dispersing the crowd.
LAPD opened up a city-wide tactical alert on Sunday to keep a close eye on the protests, which ended Monday. The concern stemmed from an incident that happened earlier July 14 when a portion of the 10 freeway was shut down by protesters for about 15 minutes when they decided to walk down the highway, blocking traffic in one direction.
If it's hard to imagine why some Los Angelinos were so upset about the verdict of the Zimmerman case, take a look at Los Angeles history: LA has seen its share of protests and court trials involving race and when a trial as big as Zimmerman's plays out it brings back memories of racial unrest from decades ago:
- Sparked by racial unrest and the arrest of a Marquette Frye, for drunk driving, the Watts riots in 1965 left 34 people dead, more than 1,000 injured, and over 600 buildings damaged.
- In 1992, the aquittal of officers charged in the beating of Rodney King sparked riots in South Los Angeles that resulted in over 9,000 arrests, 50 people killed and $1 billion in property damage.
- Angelinos had strikingly different views, even among journalists, after O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.