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From Compton Cowboys to Hollywood Boulevard, protests keep growing around L.A.

The LA Times logo The LA Times 6/7/2020 Richard Winton, Arit John
a group of people riding on the back of a horse: The Compton Cowboys, a club of close-knit friends, joins hundreds of protesters Sunday as they made their way along South Tamarind Avenue to Compton City Hall. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times) © (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times) The Compton Cowboys, a club of close-knit friends, joins hundreds of protesters Sunday as they made their way along South Tamarind Avenue to Compton City Hall. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of people took to the streets in Los Angeles on Sunday for another day of sweeping protests decrying the police killing of George Floyd and other black Americans.

Straddled atop their horses, the much-heralded Compton Cowboys joined a lively caravan of motorcycles, cars, trucks and hundreds of sign-waving protesters on foot. The boisterous but peaceful caravan began its noon-time parade at the Gateway Towne Center and slowly wound its way around the city of Compton.

Shahara Warren, 44, attended the march with her 8-year-old daughter and her troop, the Compton Girl Scouts. Warren said she was worried about bringing her daughter to a protest that but her daughter wanted to come.

“It feels good,” she said. “I grew up in a home where it was being proud of who we are, and representing our heritage and understanding the things that come with it.”

The mood of the march was upbeat, a mix of black and community pride and anger at the death of Floyd and the men and women who came before him. People chanted and played drums. They brought their children, parents, aunts and uncles. As the march made its way down the residential street of Tamarind Avenue, people came out of their homes to film the march, join the chants and hold their fists up.

Among the more prominent demonstrators were the Compton Cowboys, a group of close-knit friends who formed a horseback riding club in 2017 aimed at dispelling stereotypes against black people. They are the subject of a new book subtitled "The New Generation of Cowboys in America's Urban Heartland."

Paul Cannon, 48, of La Puente was visiting a friend when the march went by. He said it was a beautiful sight to see people coming out to protest.

“We go to work and pay bills just like everybody else, and all we want to do is make it,” he said. “We want the white picket fence. You laid the dream out. We didn’t ask to come here, but you brought us here.”

The march stopped at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monument at the Compton Civic Center. The crowd held a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of Floyd. That is the length of time that prosecutors say Floyd was pinned to the ground under the knee of Officer Derek Chauvin before he died.

Earlier Sunday afternoon, a bicycle protest rolled through Beverly Hills. The procession was peaceful and had exited the city by about 1 p.m., officials said.

This evening, a massive gathering of thousands of protesters marched through Hollywood. It appeared to be one of the biggest demonstrations yet in the L.A. area.

Amid the peaceful protests, the National Guard is pulling out of the Los Angeles area, a week after being deployed, official said Sunday.

"The California National Guard is departing Los Angeles this evening," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. "A small number of units will be stationed nearby until June 10 to provide emergency support if needed. I’m proud that our city has been peaceful this week — and that our residents are leading a powerful movement to make Los Angeles more just, equitable, and fair for Black Angelenos, communities of color, and all of our workers, youth, and families."

The National Guard has been a visible and controversial presence in the region, guarding landmark buildings like City Hall and also assisting with crowd control.

Protests of unprecedented size and scale continued across Southern California, with tens of thousands marching Saturday in various cities to express outrage at police brutality and Floyd's killing.

The Floyd protests have been mostly peaceful, and the Los Angeles Police Department is investigating videos showing officers using force on some demonstrators.

One source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the pullout could be completed later Sunday. A second source said that a small number of Guard members remains to protect some key L.A. assets, but that most have returned to their bases. There was still National Guard troops seen on the streets Sunday in some locations, including in downtown and Hollywood.

Garcetti called in the Guard on May 30 after heated protests in the Fairfax District that ended with some burglaries and thefts by people police believe were not associated with the demonstrations. There have been no major reports of such illegal activity since Monday, when some businesses in Hollywood and Van Nuys were hit. Stores in Long Beach, downtown L.A. and Santa Monica also saw people stealing merchandise.

The Los Angeles Police Department arrested thousands over the last week, many of them for violating curfew rules.

The decision to end the curfews Thursday came a day after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Los Angeles city and county and the city of San Bernardino to end the curfews, saying they were an unconstitutional violation of free expression.

At its peak, there were more than 1,000 Guardsmen in the L.A. area, some toting M-4 rifles. Humvees and military trucks were present in the city in a way not seen since 1994, in the days after the Northridge earthquake — and during the 1992 riots.

Bringing in the National Guard sparked criticism from Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents a portion of South Los Angeles. “Our fear is real that additional law enforcement will only further violence against people of color,” he said May 31.

The withdrawal of the National Guard came as Los Angeles continued to move toward easing stay-at-home restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated the first in-person Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels since public services were suspended on March 16.

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