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'Smash And Grab': Demonstration Shuts Rodeo Drive For 2 Hours

Patch logo Patch 12/24/2021 Emily Rahhal

BEVERLY HILLS, CA — For two hours, Rodeo Drive was shut down Thursday night to the sound of chants, songs, drums and pouring rain booming through the streets.

The demonstration, dubbed "Smash White Capitalism and Grab Justice," was organized by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and kicked off at Beverly Gardens Park at 4 p.m. The demonstration was a commentary on how capitalism is historically linked to violence against bodies of color, organizers said.

"Today is a smash and grab. It is a different kind of smash and grab — don't nobody go and grab Gucci purses, ok? We are smashing white capitalism and we are grabbing some justice. We are smashing and grabbing in the name of our people — we know that every year, the reason we do this is because our people are killed by white capitalism," said Melina Abdullah, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles chapter.

Starting around 5:20 p.m., the group made their way down Rodeo Drive led by a car playing music with an emcee leading chants like "Black lives, we matter," "whose streets? our streets" and "what do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" The event happened during a very rare Los Angeles downpour.

The demonstrators made their way down Rodeo Drive in the pouring rain. (Emily Rahhal/Patch) © Provided by Patch The demonstrators made their way down Rodeo Drive in the pouring rain. (Emily Rahhal/Patch)

For two hours, around 60 people made their way toward Wilshire Boulevard, stopping in stores to sing Christmas Carols with a twist; the songs had titles like "Deck the Streets," "Hark the Fighting People Sing" and "Trump's Nuts Roasting on an Open Fire." After a couple stops, stores began locking the carolers out.

A group of carolers sings © Provided by Patch A group of carolers sings

The group made three full stops at the intersections of Rodeo Drive and Brighton Way, Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way and Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, where they were met with honking.

The group chanted at Brighton Way, danced at Dayton Way and spoke to the gravity of the demonstration at Wilshire Boulevard. Organizers celebrated the persistence of those who came out in the rain after over a year of increased protesting and demonstrating. They noted the symbolic and monetary impact of Thursday's demonstration given shopping on Rodeo Drive came to a halt for the evening.

The event was part of Black Lives Matter's annual "Black Xmas" celebration, but the Beverly Hills location is especially important for its symbolic importance to American capitalism, organizers said.

"We know white capitalism utilizes police violence to steal the lives of our people so that they can make a profit. So every year we celebrate Black Xmas to disrupt white supremacist patriarchal heteronormative capitalism," Abdullah said.

Beverly Hills police were aware of the demonstration for days, said Giovanni Trejo, public information officer for the police department. Police patrolled the demonstration from a distance along with private security. The department welcomes lawful and constitutionally protected protesting, Trejo told the Patch earlier Thursday.

Throughout the evening, demonstrators recited the names of people of color who have been killed by police. The group also celebrated the verdict announced Thursday that found Kim Potter guilty in the police killing of Daunte Wright, a young Black man.

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