Sunset Blvd. Protestor Demands Mayor Horvath Resign and Others Ask WeHo to End Its Sheriff’s Contract

Clip for a video posted on Instagram by cammylala showing deputies firing at demonstrators on Sunset Boulevard on Sept. 25.

Participants in the Sept. 25 Breonna Taylor protest march on Sunset Boulevard called into tonight’s City Council meeting to demand that the City of West Hollywood end its contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and ask the LASD to return the property it had seized from the demonstrators and drop charges filed against them.

The protestors criticized the Sheriff’s Department for its deputies’ use of riot gear, which included guns that fired pepper balls, which contain a powderedchemicalthat irritates the eyes and nose in a manner similar topepper spray, and for their violent behavior. One deputy assaulted a man lying on the street multiple times with his riot shield, an incident that was videotaped and covered by news media across the nation. One of the callers said that that man is now walking on crutches because of the assault.

Liza York, a school teacher who called into the meeting, told the Council members that deputies lifted her out of the car in which she was sitting in a parking space on Sunset and then threw her to the ground before zip-tying her hands. York said she was locked up until 3 p.m. the next day without being told why and without being given access to a lawyer. She said she was interviewed in the jail cell by two detectives who were not wearing face coverings. Another caller, Jessica Rogers, said the deputies had not read those arrested their rights, as required by law, or given them access to a telephone so they could call a lawyer.

Kenneth Gray, a Black man who was the driver of one of two pickup trucks that were part of the protest march and were seized by deputies, complained that today, 26 days after the trucks and cellphones and other items in them were seized, they still are being held by the Sheriff’s Department. Gray said he was charged with failing to disperse, a misdemeanor. That and the seizure of his truck is a violation of his First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights he said.

The callers said they questioned West Hollywood’s professed commitment to civil liberties because the Mayor and City Council members haven’t yet spoken out about the Sunset Boulevard demonstration. One caller, Jessica Rogers, actually demanded that Mayor Lindsey Horvath resign. Rogers said she reached out to Mayor Horvath on Sept. 26 to help get the protestors released from jail. Rogers said she got no response. “You chose not to fight for the people you say you support,” Rogers said. “Resign Lindsey Horvath. You are unqualified and unprepared.”

Gray also was critical of the city’s elected officials for refusing to speak about the Sept. 25 incident. “Martin Luther King says there comes a point when your silence becomes betrayal,” he said.

While the Mayor and Council members hadn’t spoken out about the Sunset incident, the City of West Hollywood did issue an official statement about the incident on Oct. 5 prepared by the City Manager and his staff. The city’s statement said there is a “use of force” investigation of the deputy seen slamming his riot shield into a protestor on the ground, and it said that “use of force of any kind is rare in the City of West Hollywood.” That statement, however, is contradicted by a report from the Sheriff’s Station that show that use of force by deputies has tripled over 10 years.

The statement from the city attempted to rationalize the arrests of demonstrators and the seizure of pickup trucks in which protestors were riding. It noted that a flyer promoting the protest depicted a man throwing a Molotov cocktail and that the demonstrators carried homemade shields, wore helmets and body armor and carried umbrellas.

While that apparently was deemed by city officials as an indicator that the protestors were going to be violent, as WEHOville has reported demonstrators have been advised to wear protective gear such as helmets because of violent attacks by law enforcement officers across the country during protests of police brutality this year, a number of which have occurred in Los Angeles. Also, demonstrators sometimes carry umbrellas to protect themselvesbecause law enforcement officers have begun to use rubber bullet and pepper sprays and other gases. In some people,such sprays have been found to cause pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, vomiting and allergic reactionsas well as permanent damage to the tissues of the eye, persistent symptoms of asthma and traumatic brain injury from the projectiles used to deploy the chemicals. Researchshowsthat using these weapons does not de-escalate tensions during protests, but can actually lead to more violence.

The city’s statement also said that one protestor pulled out of a truck had shoved a deputy to the ground and that people were arrested on charges included reckless driving, unsecured passengers in a truck bed, taking over the streets, battery on a peace officer, attempt to free a suspect from police custody, resisting/obstructing deputies, and failure to disperse.

Capt. Edward Ramirez, who heads the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, told the City Council tonight that he had made the decision to seize the two pickup trucks because they had been involved in a demonstration the day before in Hollywood. In that demonstration, someone driving a white Prius had attempted to drive into the demonstrators. The driver of one of the two pickup trucks pursued the Prius and blocked it, at which point demonstrators pummeled the car. It was when one of those in the truck during the Sept. 25 shoved a deputy to the ground that Ramirez decided to order deputies to break up the protest.

Ramirez said that he strongly supported the right of people to protest peacefully and that he personally believes that is a positive way to effect change. But he said he had been concerned about the Sept. 25 protest because the flyer promoting it appeared to promote violence. He said he also was concerned that demonstrators carried homemade shields and wore helmets and body armor. And while umbrellas have become a common protective tool for demonstrators around the world, Ramirez said he saw them as tools they were handy for those who wanted to conceal themselves while committing graffiti.

At tonight’s meeting, Councilmember Lauren Meister questioned the use of deputies not employed at the West Hollywood Station during the demonstration. “I don’t think they have the same sensitivities to our city that our station has,” she said. She added that “It seems to me in that situation de-escalation could have happened, and it didn’t happen.”

Councilmember John Heilman questioned why the Sheriff’s Department was still holding items seized from protestors 26 days ago. Any necessary evidence needed to prosecute someone could already have been obtained, he said, adding that the owners of the pickup trucks might be needing them to get to work.

Capt. Ramirez said that he couldn’t disclose why the trucks and other items were still being held but that he would reach out to check on their status. He also said that Mayor Horvath had arranged for him to meet with lawyers for the demonstrators who had been arrested, a meeting which he said had been productive for both sides.

Mayor Horvath didn’t directly respond to the demand that she ask the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to drop charges against the demonstrators. She said instead that the City of West Hollywood doesn’t initiate such charges. But Horvath said that some of the videos she saw of law enforcement response to the Sunset Boulevard demonstration were disturbing.

Councilmember John Duran responded defensively to the demands from the protestors by saying that a local city council doesn’t have the authority to get involved in arrests and prosecutions. However Mayor Horvath was successful in getting the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office to agree to grant immunity from charges of prostitution or drug use for young men willing to testify about their interactions with Ed Buck, who was arrested after two Black men, one a sex worker, were found dead in his apartment.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that “protestors” had called into Monday night’s City Council meeting to demand the resignation of Mayor Lindsey Horvath. In fact, only one of the four protestors who called in demanded Horvath’s resignation. The story headline has been corrected.

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Robby Dobby
Robby Dobby
1 month ago

This is a good reason to vote for new blood on the City Council. They are out of touch with the change in the City and the needs of it’s residents…

Vincent Campisi
Vincent Campisi
1 month ago
Reply to  Robby Dobby

I couldn’t of said it any better.

Michael Graxe
Michael Graxe
1 month ago

John duran, the notorious brand, won’t get rid of the sheriff’s department. They’ve endorsed him. Duran represents everything that stinks about West Hollywood. He’s owned by law firms Who would never even hire him. He’s their pay for play guy. To push a lot of developers ugly buildings.

Elect someone who will get rid of the LA County Sheriff. Either contract with the Beverly Hills Police Department or create our own. We certainly have the money.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael Graxe
Bob Fitzgerald
Bob Fitzgerald
1 month ago

The residents of West Hollywood are sick and tired of these protests. We are tired of the lawlessness and property damage they bring to the community. We support BLM but hate seeing our community trashed.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Fitzgerald

Once we understood what BLM is all about……it lost support.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago

When you have a flyer promoting your “protest” which includes violence you have no sympathy from me. I’m sick and tired of people that break the law and their “demands.” Law abiding citizens demand they stop breaking the law.

Weho Truth Talk
Weho Truth Talk
1 month ago

How is Lindsey responsible for all this? Yes she is mayor but the other members of the city council have votes like she does and being mayor is largely ceremonial.

Lindsey also published an op-ed just the other day with Jasymne Cannick, a leader in BLM and one of the biggest anti Ed Buck voices. Lindsey and Jasmyne have worked closely together on multiple occasions.

Can she do better? Yes. But is she the most pro BLM person on that city council? Also yes.

Insider
Insider
1 month ago

I guess we should expect the “F*k the Police” and “ACAB” crowd would be upset about the Sheriff’s taking enforcement action when their actions go beyond 1st Amendment protected speech.

Do we know if we have any information regarding the clean-up effort of the graffiti and vandalism caused as the BLM folks marched through town? The City had a team out early the next morning painting over the vandalism. How many incidents were painted over and how much did that cost?

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago

Manhattan Beach, population 35,532, has its own police department. Beverly Hills, population 34,183, has its own police department. Culver City, population 39,214, has its own police department. El Segundo, population 16,719, has its own police department. South Pasadena, population 25,619, has its own police department. West Hollywood, population 36,854, still stuck in its municipal infancy mindset. We deserve true community policing in West Hollywood like our municipal cohort.

Vigilant
Vigilant
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Compared with these cities that have friendly police departments we seem to have a few rogue mercenary types and have since 1992.

Art
Art
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Our own police? Yes we CAN!

Nate
Nate
1 month ago

The story needs to be corrected. The Prius that was chased down by the truck did not maliciously drive into the protestors. The Prius edged forward slowly to get through the protestors who were illegally in the street, and did not do anything wrong.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
1 month ago

these “protestors” need a job…or at least a hobby. protesting should be in front of city hall (after obtaining a permit) and not include stopping traffic, rioting and vandalism.
they aren’t changing anything…..just creating more bad will.

Vigilant
Vigilant
1 month ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Exactly. Additionally it would be a good idea to look into the backgrounds of some of the founders of BLM. One could certainly agree with the concept but question the methodology. No surprise that Duran pontificated based on his affiliation. Consider the distinction between fire fighters and sheriff deputies. They largely appear to have markedly different personality characteristics. Aggression and oppression favored in the training many of our police/sheriffs receive from the Israeli military both here and in Israel far different from the community policing practiced by a cop on the beat. Firefighters appear to demonstrate a different dynamic focused… Read more »

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Yup.

Jay
Jay
1 month ago

Thank you for this dispatch Hank! I applaud the protestors’ calling out LASD for their likely illegal mistreatment and confronting the WeHo City Council for its silence (at best) on the matter. I am shocked, just shocked, to hear that John Duran responded defensively! I’m sure it’s a total coincidence that he has the endorsement of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. At least Lauren Meister questioned the use of non-WeHo based deputies (which includes the one who used his shield repeatedly as a weapon on an already subdued protestor). And some credit to John Heilman for wondering about… Read more »

Art
Art
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay

Villanueva MUST be asked to resign! Grow a moral compass WeHo city hall!