While hundreds of people marched in downtown Los Angeles and other cities throughout the country October 22 to recognize the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality , a small demonstration took place here in Pacoima. Nearly a dozen people stood on the corners at Osborne Street and San Fernando Road, near the Los Angeles Police Department’s Foothill Division Station, holding signs and handing out flyers with information in English and Spanish about a person’s rights when stopped by police. The demonstration was organized by Pacoima organizations El Hormiguero, a community collective, and bicycle collective Bikesanas del Valle.
“We are just trying to duplicate what they have in L.A. and all across the nation in big cities, the anti-police brutality demonstrations, and have that here in the valley because that’s where we are from,” said Justan Torres, 26, an organizer of the event. “And the notion that we haven’t had these in the valley and to our knowledge, we ‘re one of the first ones to do it, and it speaks to how desperate we need it here in the valley.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, since 2000, LAPD has killed 591 people; five of those deaths happened in Pacoima.
Torres said the demonstration is not necessarily about the police brutality only here but worldwide. One of their signs read “Justicia para Ayotzinapa,” referring to the 43 students who disappeared in Mexico at the hands of police.
The demonstrators stood near the intersection for about an hour as rush hour traffic drove passed them, some cars honking in support. The demonstrators then left to El Hormiguero where they planned to watch a movie relevant to the issue.
People who received some of the information provided by the activists had mixed feelings about their action. Wendy Contreras, 26, of North Hills acknowledged the effort but said she doubted the demonstration will reduce police brutality.
Luis González, 42, said such actions are needed.
“The police are also abusive, aren’t they?” he said. “People are needed to do these type of demonstrations so we can live better.”
The pamphlet provided to him prompted him to seek more information. He said he might stop by El Hormiguero to found out where he can get more information, such as reporting abuse from police. He never has experienced abuse, but he claimed he has witnessed it.