LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) The movement started after a series of unarmed black males were shot, often fatally, by law enforcement across the country.
Police were rarely, if ever, charged.
Black Americans across the country will say an already tense relationship with police was further strained after many high profile incidents.
The group #BlackLivesMatter has been particularly vocal about achieving justice.
KCAL9’s Jennifer Kastner reports the movement started here in Los Angeles. The group has its many supporters — and critics.
Whether it’s protesters confronting LA Mayor Eric Garcetti or shouting at cops at an LA Police Commission meeting, the group #BlackLivesMatter is ready to get in the way.
“We’re not um sorry about our tactics, in fact, we’re proud of our tactics,” says Patrisse Khan Cullors.
You might not know her name or her face — but you do know the movement she sparked when she wrote a single Facebook post with the now infamous hashtag.
She wrote that post in 2013, the day George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of unarmed Trayvon Martin in Florida.
Friend and co-founder Alicia Garza and Khan-Cullors were so outraged they commented with Black Lives Matter.
“Itt was like the most disturbing feeling I’d ever felt because it meant that we were setting a precedent for black people across the country. That it was okay to kill us,” says Khan-Cullors.
The hashtag took off on social media. The two women and Opal Tometi, created what they called a social network that grew with every new racially-polarizing case.
These included the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The death of Freddie Gray — killed when he was taken into custody in Baltimore. It happened in Los Angeles, when activists took to the streets over the LAPD’s deadly shooting of Ezell Ford.
While black males make up only about 6 percent of the US population, they accounted for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police last year, according to the Washington Post.
“Literally, our loved ones are dying on a daily basis,” says Patrisse.
So what does she want? A greater investment in minority neighborhoods for social services and crime prevention. She also wanted LAPD Chief Charle Beck to be fired — because she says he’s unresponsive.
The chief has strong support from the Police Commission and at City Hall and so far she hasn’t built any serious movement to oust him.
She also wants to do away with lengthy paid administrative leave for officers who shoot people.
“Yes, we do think there needs to be the immediate firing of officers who kill family members,” she says.
Jerretta Sandoz of the Police Protective League believes that is ludicrous — she says every officer has the right to due process.
Khan-Cullors is undeterred. She promises to push for change. Her activism shaped by perceptions she formed while a young girl growing up in Van Nuys.
“I just experienced time and time again really unfortunate experiences with law enforcement that made me feel like we needed, the community needed, more safety and that didn’t necessarily look like a badge and a gun,” she says.
Khan-Cullors recently married fellow activist Janaya Khan.
“The movement grew and so did our relationship and so did this guy,” says Janaya introducing their son.
A new mom, Khan-Cullors says she is optimistic about his future.
“This is the first time in my life where I’m seeing black people rise up and join a movement and to bring a child is exciting and profound,” she says.
Here in LA, #BlackLivesMatters remains a relentless force to be reckoned with.
The group is often criticized for its methodology.
Less than two weeks ago, President Obama suggested during a speech that members stop yelling and heckling and try to sit down with the people who can make change happen.
Activists disrupted Mayor Garcetti during a town hall meeting at a church in South LA last year. They later surrounded his car blocking him from getting in.
Pastor Kelvin Sauls runs the church where the incident took place and he said while the movement had good intentions he thought their aims were sometimes misguided.
“What happened that evening was, you know, disruption that was a violation of an understanding that we had in terms of how this meeting should be going,” Sauls said.
The church told Kastner they’ve asked Black Lives for an apology but they haven’t gotten one. They say, until it happens, the group will not be welcomed at any of their functions.
There was also the controversial protest on the 405 Freeway in December that halted rush-hour traffic on the busy Christmas holiday weekend.
Community activist Najee Ali says the protest was counter-productive.
“It hurt their image and their reputation in the community. What happens is, in that situation, they created enemies instead of allies,” Ali said.
Khan-Cullors has no plans to stop inconveniencing people to get the message across.
“You might miss your plane but you’ll get on it. You’ll eventually see your loved ones but remember that there are many people across Los Angeles, across this country- across this globe that will never see their loved one again because we had law enforcement agencies that decided to take their life,” she said.