LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The tactics of the “Black Lives Matter” movement are coming under scrutiny.
After a confrontation with the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a town hall meeting in South L.A. Monday, Oct. 19, some local leaders are voicing concerns that activists are going too far.
The rowdy disruption marks an escalation in tactics by Black Lives Matter-L.A. and has triggered a debate about the strategies the group is using, even among some supporters of their cause.
CBS2/KCAL9’s Dave Bryan spoke to the group’s organizer, Melina Abdullah, at Cal State L.A., where she is also the chair of the Pan-African Studies Department.
Bryan asked: “What some of the folks are saying is: I agree with you on the issues, and I want action too. But the tactics are now distracting from the issues.”
“These kind of polite tactics that they’re advocating, we’ve been doing those for two years. Every day that we spend engaging in polite conversation, we run the risk of someone else being killed by the police,” said Abdullah.
Among those who criticized the tactics was L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
“The questions that were raised are obviously important. The manner in which they were raised, in my view, leaves a lot to be desired,” Ridley-Thomas said on Tuesday.
The pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church in South L.A, where the meeting was held, posted a response on Facebook to the Black Lives Matter protesters:
“To the members of BLM-LA and allies who cussed at me in the sanctuary on Monday night during the town hall, I have forgiven you. Because the lives of black people matter, your disrespect and verbal violence will not be a weapon of mass distraction to our resolve.”
The demands of Black Lives Matter include firing Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, making the police commission more transparent and paying reparations for victims of police violence.
Abdullah said: “Sometimes when we’re seeking change. The tactics have to be varied. It can’t be asking any more. We’ve written letters. We’ve given the mayor our agenda, and he’s refused it. So if that doesn’t work, then how do we elevate that platform? How do we say Black Lives Matter in a substantive way?”
But some people, who attended the meeting, felt the rowdy protesters wasted a rare opportunity to communicate with the mayor in a meaningful way.
“You disrespected the rest of the community that was there to have an intelligent dialogue with the mayor, and understand what’s happening on issues like jobs; what’s happening on our minimum wage increase,” South L.A. resident Dallas Fowler said on Monday. “We didn’t get that tonight (Monday) because of a small group of people who wanted to be obstructive.”
Ironically, one of the demands of Black Lives Matter is quarterly town hall meetings involving the mayor and the community, much like the one that was disrupted this week.