LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Mayor Eric Garcetti Thursday lauded the thousands of peaceful protesters who flooded Los Angeles streets this week to speak out against Donald Trump’s election, but also urged the demonstrators not to go onto freeways or vandalize property.
Garcetti, who supported Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton, said he feels “the pull” to join protests himself and has taken to the streets in the past.
“This was a traumatic election,” he said during a news conference at City Hall. “There’s plenty of division, and there’s finger-pointing in both directions, but there were things that were said that were not partisan, about women, about our Muslim brothers and sisters, about immigrants.”
“This campaign started with singling out Mexicans and Mexican Americans,” he said. “Those have a very long-term and traumatic effect, and I hope that President-elect Trump can do things to repair those words have been said and to be an example.”
Garcetti said he was proud of the protesters, who appeared to be diverse and largely young people and students, and was “encouraged” by their numbers, which has reached upwards of 3,000 people at a time.
“I thought it was beautiful,” he said. “I certainly, probably in an earlier incarnation, would have been out there expressing some of that frustration.”
But he discouraged protesters inclined to destroy or vandalize property, or trespass onto freeways.
He also urged the protesters to “channel” there energy into activism and to become more engaged in politics during the four years between elections.
“I want to turn those people not just into protesters but into doers,” he said. “We’re going to need them to do the things that we need to do in this country and this world, and certainly in this city.”
Los Angeles Unified School District board President Steve Zimmer said the protests and school walkouts represent a “hopeful moment.”
But he also noted that civil disobedience is not complete without “consequences,” so disciplinary action will be taken for any unexcused absences.
“If this is important enough to you to walk out, then you should know that there are going to be consequences for that action, and you should accept those proudly,” he said.
Student protesters should rest assured, however, that such disciplinary action “will not be devastating or monumental to anyone’s graduation trajectory,” he said.
Garcetti today also encouraged protesters to keep an open mind about the president-elect’s supporters.
“I think the frustrations that people have are universal” across party lines, he said.
“Don’t just reach out to somebody who has a different color skin or different gender or different religion,” he said. “Reach out to somebody of a different political party. Have those conversations and see where we can move forward together.”
Like others who voted for Clinton this week, Garcetti expressed hope that Trump will make good on his promise of reconciliation in his victory speech.
“I take the president-elect at his word,” Garcetti said. “He says he wants to bring us together. There’s some work to do.”
“We certainly want to do that, if that’s what he wants to do,” he said. “I expect him to be a president for all of us, and if not, we’ll hold him accountable.”
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