On Monday, June 1, noticing the growing protests over the outrage of George Floydâs murder by Minneapolis police, Julie Levine rallied Topanga Peace Alliance members to stand in support and hold their own protests in their usual Friday evening spot in front of Pine Tree Circle.
On the first day, about seven TPA members spontaneously gathered in front of Pine Tree Circle along the Boulevard on Monday. With signs aloft, they stood in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and thousands of protestors across the nation who donned masks and put aside their fear of COVID-19, demanding that the police officers who killed George Floyd be held accountable for the brutality exhibited.
By Friday, the group had grown to about 30 people, the small numbers in Topanga still part of the global protest
âWe were there every day,â Levine said, and gave credit to Lori Precious who helped organize it. âOn Friday I counted over 30 people,â said Levine, âmostly children and lots of positive energy, homemade signs. The people driving by were mostly super positive, except for a few aggressive types who gave us the finger and/or screamed at us. One guy said f--- you and I responded, âI love you, too!â and that went over big with our group!
We also had great discussions and the children were so knowledgeable and motivated. On Tuesday, I believe, the 405 was closed and the traffic was diverted through the Canyon. Many protesters and allies drove by and were super appreciative!â
Police Target Legal Observers at Black Lives Matter Protests
Julie Levine is also a Legal Observer (LO) for the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). Since protests have spread to all 50 states in response to the police murders of George Floyd and countless other Black people, law enforcement has responded with a violent show of force against protestors as well as journalists, street medics, and legal support.
According to the NLG national office, âMultiple National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Legal Observers (LOs) have been arrested or injured while monitoring demonstrations against racialized police brutality.
âReports from NLG chapters in multiple cities lead us to conclude that police are intentionally targeting LOs. In Atlanta, LOs Megan Harrison and Asia Parks were arrested and held for 17 hours before being released. According to Harrison, she was walking down a line of protesters linking arms, taking names and dates of birth in case of arrest. When police attacked the crowd, she heard âget the girl in the green hat,â before being grabbed from behind and forcibly arrested.
âThe NLG strongly condemns this attack on Legal Observers, who attend protests to document police activity and ensure demonstratorsâ legal rights. Guild LOâs wear neon green hats and other paraphernalia with the label âNLG Legal Observerâ to identify their role, but this visibility has also made them a target for police. This goes right to the heart of why NLG does this work. While the police enforce the law on protesters, who is there to monitor the police
âNLG Legal Observers are a core part of the NLG Mass Defense program, which began in 1968. For more than 50 years the Guild has provided legal support designed to enable people to express their political views as fully as possible without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the police.
âWe are deeply grateful to our LOs on the ground, and Guild members and staff are following up with LOs arrested or injured to assist with possible legal, physical, and mental health needs. We affirm our ongoing support for Black organizers and activists who continue to face the greatest amount of violence, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement.
NLG Resources: NLG Mass Defense Program; NLG Know Your Rights Materials; Bail and Legal; Defense Fund Best Practices Guide; Recent NLG Statements and Press Releases; Find your local NLG Chapter.