A third day of demonstrations is scheduled in downtown LA Sunday as the outcry continues against the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn federal abortion protections provided under Roe v. Wade.
The groups The Feminist Front and Generation Ratify are calling for protesters to wear green to the rally at 1 p.m. Sunday at Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave.
The Feminist Front describes itself on Twitter as "young people uniting 15-35 years olds to fight white supremacist patriarchy, from the roots up." Generation Ratify lists itself as "The youth-led movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and advance gender justice in the United States."
The rally comes on the heels of two days of demonstrations following the U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 decision Friday to overturn 1973's Roe v. Wade ruling.
Two large demonstrations were held Saturday at Grand Park, which drew at least a couple hundred people before noon, and another outside the federal courthouse on First Street attended by hundreds more.
Another rally was held outside the Federal Building in Westwood.
Similar demonstrations have been held across the nation and in other Southland communities including Hollywood, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Fullerton, Irvine and parts of Riverside and San Diego counties.
As with previous downtown LA rallies, participants Saturday held homemade signs with messages including "Ban Guns, Not Abortions," "Mind Your Own Uterus" and "My Body, My Choice"
Many said they just needed a place to be with like-minded people and vent their frustration -- and disappointment.
"It gives people hope -- hope in numbers,'' 22-year-old Jessi Martinez of Santa Monica told the Los Angeles Times Saturday.
Some of Saturday's downtown demonstrators spilled onto nearby freeways, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a series of tweets:
- 3:42 p.m. - "Pedestrian demonstrators have now entered the 101 Freeway off-ramp from Broadway Avenue. Avoid the area and use alternate routes if possible."
- 3:59 p.m. - "The 101 freeway off ramp has been cleared. Pedestrians demonstrators are now westbound 1st street from Main Street." The LAPD advised motorists to avoid the area and use alternate routes if possible.
- 5:19 p.m. - "Pedestrian demonstrators are now westbound 7th Street From Broadway Avenue."
- 8:57 p.m. - "The crowds have dispersed and the flow of traffic has been restored. We again would like to thank the men and women who worked long hours to ensure citizens were able to exercise their 1st Amendment right."
On Friday, hundreds of protesters gathered downtown in the hours after the Supreme Court announced its decision. The demonstrations were largely peaceful, but some skirmishes with LA police officers were reported, prompting the department to declare an unlawful assembly and issue a temporary citywide tactical alert to clear the streets.
Two people were arrested and four officers were injured during Friday's demonstration, LAPD officials said.
Michael Ortiz, 30, was arrested for attempted murder and Juliana Bernado, 23, for resisting an executive officer.
Police said Ortiz hurled a makeshift flame thrower at a police officer who had to be treated for burns at a hospital. Bernado allegedly tried to take an officer's baton, prompting police to fire a 40 mm less lethal round at her before she was taken into custody.
"I condemn the violence against officers that occurred last night (Friday) and into today (Saturday morning),'' Police Chief Michel Moore said. "Individuals participating in such criminal activity are not exercising their First Amendment rights in protest of the Supreme Court decision, rather, they are acting as criminals. The Department will vigorously pursue prosecution of these individuals."
The Police Protective League also issued a lengthy statement Saturday condemning the actions of some in the crowd at Friday's protest.
"As a society, it should be easy to condemn attacking police officers with improvised blowtorches, or throwing fireworks, rocks and bottles at officers under the guise of 'protest.' Yet, the silence is deafening from our so-called community's leaders." League officials said. "This type of raw violence on display in Los Angeles and across the nation from dangerous mobs hell-bent on destruction has nothing to do with a woman's right to choose. Rather, it is nothing more than disgusting opportunistic behavior carried out by criminals hiding behind our First Amendment.
"LAPD officers are sick and tired of being violently targeted by criminals using the First Amendment as a shield for them to purposefully attack police officers,'' the statement continued. "Our officers are sick and tired of the silence and inaction from our elected and Department leaders when they are attacked. Seems some of these 'leaders' forgot how to Tweet or they can't seem to find their voice to condemn these attacks on our officers when it does not fit their political narrative, align with their point of view or ruffles feathers.
"Violence is violence and it must be met with a strong response, and order must be restored. We demand the leadership of the LAPD to set aside politics and focus on protecting our officers and law-abiding residents from criminals."
Some on social media characterized the police response as "heavy handed.'' A reporter with L.A. Taco, a platform that covers food and culture, tweeted late Friday that he was assaulted by a group of officers.
"LAPD officers shoved me and jabbed @joeyneverjoe in the stomach with a baton, sending him to the ground. We both identified ourselves as press repeatedly," tweeted Lexis-Oliver Ray.
In a video, officers in riot gear can be heard shouting "leave the area, go back" and Ray describing himself as a member of the press.
Spokeswoman Norma Eisenman of the LAPD's Media Relations Division told City News Service Saturday that the department had no comment on Ray's tweets. She added that no media staging area was set up for the demonstrations.
Saturday's protests were said to been mostly peaceful and no other arrests were reported.