One week after a town hall event featuring L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was shut down because of protests, the organizers of that event criticized Black Lives Matter for making threats and called on the group to apologize.
Mayor Garcetti was scheduled to speak at a town hall event held at Holman United Methodist Church last Monday. A couple hundred people turned up to hear from the Mayor but didn’t get the chance. A few dozen members of Black Lives Matter interrupted the event by standing and turning their backs on the Mayor. Meanwhile, other members of the group went on stage and allegedly made threats against the church’s pastor, who was asking everyone to take a seat. The event was canceled once it became clear Garcetti would not be able to speak.
At a press conference about the disruption yesterday, Holman Pastor Kelvin Sauls said, “Violence starts with offensive language, being called derogatory names, being cussed at. I think that’s a behavior that, again, is just not acceptable, not just in a sanctuary, but anywhere.”
Activist Najee Ali was more explicit about what happened during the event. “I was there. I saw with my own eyes Pastor Sauls be physically threatened with violence in his own church,” Najee said. He added, “I heard with my own ears a Black Lives Matter activist threaten to beat up Pastor Sauls if he did not stop trying to tell them to sit down.” He showed NBC reporters a photo that he claimed depicted the moment the threat took place.
Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah told NBC Los Angeles, “I’m not aware of anything like that.” Asked whether such behavior, if true, would be appropriate, Abdullah told NBC LA, “Well, we believe in non-violent direct action and that’s the approach that we take.”
At Monday’s press conference, clergy members called on Black Lives Matter to apologize for their behavior.
Mayor Garcetti was scheduled to return to Holman Methodist on Sunday in an unannounced visit, but Pastor Sauls asked him not to come after word of the visit leaked online.