Los Angeles mayor meets with Black Lives Matter activists over shooting

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 09, 2015 7:12 PM

By Phoenix Tso

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Activists with the Black Lives Matter movement on Thursday called on the Los Angeles mayor to fire the city's police chief over his handling of the shooting of an unarmed black man last year, members of the group said after a meeting with the mayor.

But Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has previously expressed confidence in Police Chief Charlie Beck, told the group he has trust in the chief, said Melina Abdullah of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"That's not the way we perceive Chief Beck," said Abdullah, who is a professor of pan-African studies at California State University, Los Angeles.

The meeting between Garcetti and three members of the Black Lives Matter movement at a Los Angeles church represented a victory for the activists.

It came a month after members of the group protested outside Garcetti's house to express displeasure with a preliminary decision by Beck to clear two police officers in the Aug. 11, 2014, shooting death of 25-year-old Ezell Ford.

Ford, who was unarmed and suffered from mental illness, struggled with one of the two officers and tried to grab his holstered gun, officials said.

The Los Angeles Police Commission last month went against the recommendation of Beck and found one officer had violated policy in several areas, including use of lethal force. The commission largely approved of the other officer's actions.

The decision on whether to discipline the officers in connection with the shooting remains with Beck.

The shooting death of Ford raised tensions between police and some members of the black community in Los Angeles, and it came days after the slaying of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Missouri that touched off sometimes unruly protests in several major U.S. cities.

Garcetti did not speak to reporters as he left the church after the meeting, and a spokesman for the mayor did not return an email seeking comment.

In their meeting, members of Black Lives Matter told Garcetti that in addition to demands that he fire the police chief, they also wanted more transparency by the police commission. The mayor did not make commitments to any of the group's demands, Abdullah said.

"We hope that there will be many more conversations with the mayor," she said.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman declined to comment on the group's demand that Garcetti fire Beck.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Sandra Maler)