By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer

TORRANCE — More than 100 people took part in a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest at Torrance’s Civic Center on Sunday afternoon.

The multiracial and multigenerational gathering, which included Asian Americans, began in front of City Hall and ended on the corner of Torrance Boulevard and Madrona Avenue, near the Victor E. Benstead Plunge, where participants lay down on the grass in honor of George Floyd, chanting, “I can’t breathe.”

Floyd, an African American, died in police custody in Minneapolis last week. A video that has gone viral shows him pinned on the ground, face down, with an officer’s knee on his neck. Three other officers stood by while Floyd pleaded for his life. His death has sparked sometimes violent protests across the country.

Other unarmed African Americans who were recently killed by police were also remembered. One sign read, “Say their names.”

Other signs included, “No one is above the law,” “To be silent is to be complicit,” “The power of the people is stronger than the people in power,” “This time I refuse to be silent,” “End police brutality now,” “Justice for George Floyd,” “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” “We need peace, love and justice,” and “Good cops protect and serve by holding bad cops accountable.”

A number of protesters brought their children, who also held signs.

Many drivers at the busy intersection showed their support by honking.

There were no patrol cars or uniformed officers nearby. Torrance Police Chief Eve Berg has released a statement saying the department was “disturbed and saddened” by Floyd’s death.

While supporting the right to assemble and protest, Berg said, “we do not condone the illegal activities of rioting, looting, physically harming others, and the destruction of property.”

On the same day, the City of Torrance announced a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., prompting many supermarkets and other businesses to close early.

According to The Daily Breeze, Torrance has itself been the target of Black Lives Matter protests after Christopher DeAndre Mitchell, a black man, was shot to death by police in December 2019 after being found behind the wheel of a car that had been reported stolen.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office later concluded that the officers acted in self defense because they believed Mitchell was armed and he failed to follow their commands.

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

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