Demonstrators demand justice in Black Lives Matter protest in Whittier
WHITTIER — A crowd of loud but peaceful protesters descended on Whittier City Hall Sunday, chanting in support of Black Lives Matter and demanding justice for the killing of George Floyd.
Floyd, a black man, died last week after a white Minnesota police officer pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck during an arrest. The police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder.
The incident has sparked protests nationwide, including in Southern California, in demonstrations that have been marked with violence and looting.
Sunday’s demonstration in Whittier was peaceful, with participants marching along Uptown Whittier streets and to Penn Park before finishing at City Hall. They were met by a wall of Whittier police officers and California Highway Patrol officers clad in riot gear.
Protesters took a knee and alternated between chants of, “No justice no peace, no racist police” and “Black lives matter.”
Other held handmade signs: “Silence is betrayal” and “Arrest bad police, stop abuse.”
Businesses throughout Whittier boarded up their windows in anticipation of potential looting. Crooked Gaff Kitchen & Oyster Bar taped signs to its windows that read, “Let’s unite peacefully” and “Family owned small business.”
Vallarta supermarket at The Quad closed early and boarded up its windows, as did a row of businesses on Greenleaf Avenue.
Small business throughout Uptown Whittier closed early at 2 p.m. to avoid potential disruptions.
“As a business district, we want to maintain the protection of our businesses as well as the safety of our community,” Frank Medina, president of the Whittier Uptown Association, said in a written statement. “Rest assured the Whittier Police Department, Fire Department and the City will do whatever necessary to protect our Uptown District and its wellbeing.”
In a statement posted to Facebook, Mayor Joe Vinatieri said video of Floyd’s death “sickens [his] stomach.”
“But I’m also sickened at the violence and destruction that has taken place in some parts of the country including Los Angeles,” Vinatieri wrote. “We are aware of innuendo of protest in Whittier and expression is absolutely appropriate. However, acts of thievery, violence, in the name of protest cannot be allowed.
“I am asking our people to pray that we be a people respectful of one another, looking out for one another and that we might be protected.”
Another protest is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at Central Park.