South Pasadena Resident Witnesses History | Protests & Riots in L.A.

"We can’t turn away anymore – we need to address this."

PHOTO: News | Protests in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles

George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis during an arrest on May 25, 2020.

Almost immediately protests sprung up in Minneapolis and quickly spread throughout the U.S. and then the world.

A few days later on Saturday, May 30, 2020 in the Fairfax District of downtown Los Angeles – one of the first large scale local protests was organized to denounce police brutality and draw attention to the deaths of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.

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A current South Pasadena resident who wishes to remain anonymous joined that first protest. He planned to participate in a peaceful march to protest the treatment of black people at the hands of the police nationwide – and in particular to denounce the violent death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

The resident was alerted to the protest via social media and decided to participate with his adult children and a few of their friends. The protest started around 1:00 pm on May 30th. They arrived around 3:00 in the afternoon and parked at a friend’s nearby apartment.

PHOTO: News | Protests in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles

They walked to the corner of 3rd street and Edinburgh where they “witnessed a long line of approximately 30-40 police officers geared-up with face shields and batons. A few officers carried tear gas guns. They were standing shoulder to shoulder—blocking 3rd street.”

At this point they had joined a group of “thousands” of protesters – the crowd went on for blocks so that they were not easily counted from the ground. From what he could see “everyone had a mask on and people were close together – but not packed in like sardines.”

It was clear from the moment they arrived that the Los Angeles police were being “very aggressive”. To let the story speak for itself and give a clear picture of the events that day as seen through the eyes of this South Pasadena resident – the remainder of this piece is what happened as directly quoted from the eye witness.

“When we drove in, people were marching past us and I thought ‘oh cool!’. I’d been to a number of protests including a few Women’s Marches – and it had that same kind of feel. People were holding signs and chanting. Maybe they were a little bit more angry – but definitely not aggressive or violent in any way.”

“As soon as we approached 3rd and Edinburgh, the mood quickly changed – the police set off flashbangs, and people started running away from the scene. The police were driving everyone back from about 6 feet in front of the police line to about 20 feet away.”

“Eventually the protesters started moving back. They were undaunted by the flashbangs and determine to be heard. At this point it became a standoff. The protesters started chanting “hands up – don’t shoot” and “black lives matter.” People also shouted, “we are unarmed!” In response – the police set off more flashbangs to push people back again. This went on for quite a while.”

“The dialogue between the protesters was “We’re all in this together.” Everyone was supporting the cause and supporting each other. I noticed that the majority of people appeared to be in their 20’s and of all races, ethnicities and walks of life. Considering all the chaos—the crowd had been very peaceful—but vocal.”

“Suddenly down the street we could see a police car on fire. I didn’t see how this happened. But it was quickly engulfed in flames—with large plums of smoke pouring out of the vehicle. After an an hour or so, we decided to get away for a few minutes because things were getting very tense and we needed to decompress.”

“We took a break for about half an hour at a friend’s nearby apartment, but we followed the coverage on TV and social media.”

PHOTO: News | Protests in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles

“Upon returning, we decided to move further down 3rd to Fairfax, (closer to the Farmer’s Market) it was quickly apparent that things were getting heated. Further down the street we could see another car on fire. The police kept pushing us back with more flashbangs. Additional police, now in riot gear, started arriving in large numbers—on the side of trucks. They got off of the trucks and started trotting in a military fashion towards the crowd. The police were about 3 columns wide and 20 rows deep. It was scary because they had on full riot gear with shields and weaponry I didn’t recognize. It was very intense, so we agreed to return to the apartment to check TV and social media for a safer place to protest.”

“When we got back to the apartment we turned on the TV and saw that the same police that marched past us in riot gear a few minutes ago, were arriving at the Whole Foods that was now being looted.”

“I should point out that the people who were marching were separate from the people who were looting. From what I could see, the people looting were getting out of their cars and tagging. I later saw people breaking windows as well. This was a totally different spirit than the marchers that were there.”

“It was not quite dark–when the looting started to ramp up, and given the fact that the police were now not distinguishing between the looters and the protesters, we decided to leave the area altogether. We felt unsafe being out there, and we were afraid of things getting out of hand and possibly getting caught in the crossfire. We felt a “flight” instinct, so we bailed.”

“The day after we protested, I was disturbed to see that the media focused primarily on the looting. I know that they’re drawn to the sensational, but the the dialogue of what happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless black Americans was completely overshadowed. That was very disheartening and damaging. But witnessing this younger generation fearlessly exercising their right to protest was incredibly inspiring. I hope my generation also rises to the occasion, because we can’t turn away anymore – we need to address this.”


Derek Vaughan
Derek Vaughan is a contributing writer and local realtor specializing in South Pasadena. Known for his expert knowledge of digital marketing and the local real estate market, Derek has lived in South Pasadena for the past 20 years. Derek has also worked for the Walt Disney Company where he was responsible for digital marketing for both the properties and the NASCAR online store. He also holds degrees from the Indiana University School of Music, Purdue University and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.