LOS ANGELES, CA — Several protesters were wounded and 10 were arrested during a confrontation between demonstrators and police Wednesday night in Downtown Los Angeles. Protesters had arrived on the scene to decry the shootings of Jacob Blake, Anthony McClain and more at the hands of police.
A group of about 300 people arrived at City Hall around 9 p.m. and began marching through downtown an hour later. Authorities said some had spray painted graffiti on the U.S. Bank Tower at 633 W. 5th Street, several blocks south.
Eventually, the protesters entered the tunnel via Hill Street intending to pass through to Flower Street. However, LAPD set up a second skirmish line on the western edge of the tunnel, containing them inside.
Tyler Nicole, one of the protesters, said police kettled the group inside the tunnel for at least an hour.
“For the past few nights, ever since Anthony McClain was killed in Pasadena, Los Angeles County has been reignited and [police] isn’t having it,” Nicole said. “It’s been getting a little more chaotic, but last night was definitely way more. The brutal force was much more obvious.”
Protesters brought boogie-boards and makeshift cardboard shields in an attempt to protect themselves from rubber bullets, but LAPD made the group discard them after saying they could be used as weapons. Protesters later raised their hands and began chanting “hands up, don’t shoot,” but as chants grew louder, officers closed in and the scene became more aggressive.
Cardboard shields lay discarded on the ground in the tunnel. (Tyler Nicole)
Scuffles broke out between demonstrators and protesters and officers fired rubber bullets into the crowd. Nicole described the chaotic scene inside the tunnel, as peaceful protesters looked to take cover but had nowhere to go.
“People were panicking, trying to run,” she said. “We were getting trampled, not only by each other but by the police, because they were running around too. We just couldn’t get out, they blocked every side. They kept telling us to leave, but they had us blocked out.”
According to an LAPD spokesperson, the decision to set up skirmish lines on both sides of the tunnel was not deliberate.
“In that kind of dynamic situation, not any one party truly dictates the final outcome,” he said. “It’s kind of an action-reaction kind of circumstance, I don’t think it’s anything deliberate on our part.”
The spokesperson also said no LAPD officers were injured during the confrontation. While the department said they were still gathering information on how many protesters were injured, Nicole estimated over a dozen people were wounded.
“As far as injuries, open wounds, I would say 20-30,” she said. “That’s like open wounds, concussions, people who were shot.”
No ambulances were on scene to treat the injured, according to multiple protesters.
The incident was the latest demonstration to take place downtown as protesters continue to speak out against instances of police brutality. Elsewhere in Los Angeles, pro-Trump demonstrators clashed with a group called Against Bigotry, Responding With Action again last Friday.
More demonstrations are scheduled to take place this weekend.
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