The mayor of the progressive mecca of West Hollywood, California, publicized “Guidelines for White People” prior to a large demonstration against racial injustice and police misconduct that took place in the city last week.
Lindsey P. Horvath, who was recently sworn in as mayor, tweeted “some important tips” for “showing up at Black-led and people of color-led protests” hours before the rally began. West Hollywood’s racial makeup is almost 80% white, while black residents comprise about 4% of the population.
— Lindsey P Horvath (@LindseyPHorvath) June 3, 2020
“This is a Black issue, the call needs to be ‘Black Lives Matter,’ not ‘All Lives Matter,’” the guidelines read. “Sometimes the best way to ensure that All Lives Matter is to give Black people room to own a space.”
An estimated crowd of 3,000 gathered at La Cienega and Santa Monica Boulevards on Wednesday afternoon to support the theme of “LGBTQ+ for Black Lives Matter.” One-third of West Hollywood residents identify as gay men.
— Kim Webster (@itskimwebster) June 3, 2020
Attendees shut down the major intersection and staged a “die-in” while paying homage to George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died on May 25 while being arrested by a white Minneapolis police officer. The circumstances of Floyd’s death have sparked nationwide demonstrations, revived the Black Lives Matter rally call, and amplified the activist network’s longtime demand to defund police.
Participants marched around West Hollywood, also honoring the memory of other people of color who have been killed by law enforcement officers, including Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman fatally shot in Louisville, Kentucky, almost three months ago.
Current images from #WestHollywood #protests. We are met by the police, national guards – but this is a peaceful protest. Here, laying down at the intersection & chanting…” #GeorgeFlyod #ICantBreathe pic.twitter.com/Bb35B34CE7
— oby (@goldmanorah) June 3, 2020
The guidelines shared by Mayor Horvath went on to advise: “Don’t join in on the chant ‘Whose streets? Our Streets!’ – these streets are not ‘Our Streets.’ Instead, carry signs and participate in chants that challenge white supremacy.” The suggested protocols also discouraged white people from speaking to the media.
Peaceful protest here in West Hollywood where LGBT activists are rallying for BLM. Rally goers tell me they fee like the LGBT community can be a good ally for the BLM movement because of an equal struggle for rights pic.twitter.com/bUDdCG98x3
— Miranda Green (@mirandacgreen) June 3, 2020
According to WEHOville, a community news source covering West Hollywood, most demonstrators were “young men and women, a majority of whom were white, accompanied by black and Asian friends.” The outlet went on to report that deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department “were very accommodating to the demonstrators,” and:
The march was loud, with drivers honking their car horns in support of the protestors and marchers chanting “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” and “Prosecute Killer Cops” and “I Can’t Breathe.” However, it was peaceful, with no signs of vandalism and break-ins that followed similar demonstrations in the Fairfax District and on Melrose Avenue and in other cities on the Westside… There were no signs of aggression by the deputies, even as demonstrators denounced them and shouted insults like “all cops are bastards.”
The behavioral guidelines, listed in bullet point-style, also urged white protesters to “meet level of escalation with police, and/or try to de-escalate, do not exceed it.”
An activist organization called Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) compiled the recommendations. According to the group, it “works to undermine support for racist policies, practices, and culture in the white community as part of a multi-racial movement for liberation.” Some SURJ-led campaigns have asked white people to “imagine, explore, and engage in alternatives to policing.” The local SURJ affiliate works in solidarity with Black Lives Matter’s Los Angeles chapter, of which Mayor Horvath is a staunch ally.
— Existential Distancing (@jeremyforeshew) June 4, 2020
Several elected officials promoted Wednesday’s demonstration on their social media platforms but did not appear to know the identity of the organizers. West Hollywood’s communications director later told The Daily Wire, “the City has no information as to who organized the peaceful protest.” A local television station credited a fictitious group, while other media said the planners were unknown.
After much confusion, WEHOville reported on Friday the action was thrown together in about a day by three people who were not seasoned organizers. They said they refrained from publicizing the protest on social media out of concerns of attracting troublemakers. The organizers were surprised by the size of the crowd, the report said.
Lowam Eyasu, an actor and screenwriter, told WEHOville: “We didn’t have an organization behind us, a legal team. We were worried about the safety of everyone. We thought if we just did it by word of mouth it would be safe.”
Still, the protest had been heavily promoted on Twitter by an anonymous account called @OccupyWeho, which claims to be run by a team of progressive social media specialists.
— WeHo #BLM (@OccupyWeho) June 3, 2020
An unidentified person with access to the account told The Daily Wire they were “just advancing the signal” and not part of the organizing team.
“Amazing turnout,” they continued. “My heart is full.”
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