Less than 24 hours after the LAPD broke up a peaceful Black Lives Matters protest and arrested an activist outside the official residence of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Joe Biden has named Garcetti one of the co-chairs of his inaugural committee.
The selection that has been met with derision and concern by BLM LA and could bode badly for the President-elect with one of his and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ core constituencies.
“It’s beyond disheartening that Biden would ignore the calls of Black organizers who helped elect him and appoint Garcetti to any position the very day after LAPD violently assailed protestors in front of the mayor’s mansion,” BLM LA co-founder Dr. Melina Abdullah told Deadline on Monday. “We hope that this will be no more than a consolation prize and that Biden will heed the calls not to appoint one of the most problematic mayors in the nation to his cabinet.”
As the region goes into another lockdown due to surging Covid-19 cases, today marks the 14th consecutive day that BLM LA and others have taken to the street outside Getty House to dissuade Biden from handing out a top cabinet post to Garcetti. Essentially a political adopted son to Biden, the soon-to-be termed-out mayor has been tipped as a possible Transportation or Commerce Secretary.
Out in front of the Hancock Park mansion this morning, BLM LA says that Garcetti’s public transportation and homelessness policies, as well as his support of the LAPD and neglect of civic affairs for perceived personal ambition, should disqualify him from being a cabinet pick.
As long as we talk about white supremacy, we have to talk about it coming in the liberal form. @MayorOfLA upholds liberal white supremacy in Los Angeles #BlockGarcetti @BLMLA @DocMellyMel pic.twitter.com/7q7jXguCli
— People's City Council – Los Angeles (@PplsCityCouncil) December 7, 2020
On Sunday, baton-swinging police charged into the crowd near Garcetti’s official residence on the premise that protesters had broken a city noise control code and complaints from neighbors. Amidst the chaos, as you can see in the video below, street medic and neighborhood council member Jamie Penn was arrested for “lynching.” In this case, the loaded term refers to assisting another person in trying to get away from law enforcement.
The actions of the LAPD and the arrest of Penn, a transgender activist, was strongly condemned by a number of local and state representatives.
Today, protesters outside the Mayor’s residence were struck with batons. An elected member of the Wilshire Center-Ktown NC was arrested.
There is no acceptable justification for LAPD to use force against Angelenos who are peacefully exercising their right to free speech. https://t.co/5ZOjwih8QD
— Nithya Raman (@nithyavraman) December 7, 2020
With regards to events at the Mayor's house this afternoon: pic.twitter.com/JGrXw71qei
— Wendy Carrillo (@AsmCarrillo) December 7, 2020
Penn was released a few hours later, but not without making a point about what had occurred.
— Di (@Deeeezyy) December 7, 2020
“Mayor Garcetti appreciates those expressing their free speech rights and the difficult job that police officers have to do every day,” the mayor’s deputy communications director Alex Comisar said Monday. “We hope that the situation will deescalate because the safety of demonstrators and police officers is of the utmost importance.”
By Biden’s side the day after his Super Tuesday win on March 3 and a member of the then-candidate’s VP pick team, Garcetti has recently said he is not looking for a major move to DC.
Along with Garcetti, the planners for the January 20 ceremony announced today include Biden allies House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester and Rep. Cedric Richmond.
Among that group, the inaugural committee gig may actually be a signal that Garcetti isn’t being offering a top job, according to one well-placed source. “Biden is naming his cabinet day after day,” the insider said. “If Eric Garcetti was on the list, he wouldn’t have been palmed off with the consolation prize of a high-profile ceremonial position for a virtual inauguration.”
“I am honored to join the Presidential Inaugural Committee as a Co-Chair to help organize a historic inauguration for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris that will engage Americans in every corner of the country and keep people safe,” Garcetti said in a statement on Monday. “This inauguration will mark a turning point for Americans to unite and start building back better together, for generations to come. As we grapple with threats to our health, livelihoods and climate, this is a time for Americans to come together, work together and move forward together.”
As Garcetti’s national ambitions appear blunted, BLM LA has become a formidable force in local politics of late. The organization was a major player in the peaceful protests in the city following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops on Memorial Day. Additionally, BLM LA proved a vigorous opponent of now-former LA County DA Jackie Lacey.
The first African-American woman to hold the powerful prosecution perch, Lacey was defeated by ex San Francisco DA George Gascon in November in no small part due to her tight connection to the LAPD and a reluctance to charge officers involved in brutality, a connection BLM LA amplified while never officially endorsing Gascon. As the pressure built against Lacey, Garcetti pulled his previously stated backing of her bid for a third term in October and shifted to endorsing Gascon.
Fueled by big donations from the likes of Netflix’s Reed Hastings and other Tinseltown heavyweights in his campaign, Gascon was sworn in as the new LA County DA today.
BLM LA has said they will continue to protest in front of Garcetti’s official home until Biden unequivocally says the mayor will not be part of his cabinet or a top advisor.