Saturday demonstrators gathered at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters and marched to skid row to protest the fatal shooting of a troubled homeless man killed on during a tussle with police officers.
Protesters chanted “You can’t Kill Africa,” referring to Charly “Africa” Leundeu Keunang, who on March 1 was killed by police when he appeared to reach for one of the officer’s guns during the violent altercation.
According to the LAPD, Keunang had just robbed and beaten another skid row dweller right before he brawled with the officers. Video cameras seemed to confirm that he grabbed a rookie officer’s holstered pistol, prompting three other officers to shoot.
The Los Angeles Times confirmed that, Keunang was convicted of armed bank robbery in 2000. Moreover, he spent 15 years in federal prison, the last 12 of which was in a psychiatric prison hospital.
Last week KTLA reported that Keunang in 2000, at that time referring to himself as Charley Saturmin Robinet, along with two other men, robbed a Thousand Oaks Wells Fargo bank. During the robbery, Keunang pistol-whipped and kicked a bank teller who failed to open a vault in the bank.
Ultimately, a manager opened the vault and Keunang and his accomplices got away, prompting a high-speed chase. Keunang had $33,500 on him when he was arrested the same day. The unsuccessful thief said that he stole the money to pay for acting lessons at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, the Times reported. Keunang was 24 when he was sentenced in August of 2000.
Cue Jn’Marie, a skid row preacher, said at the rally that skid row inhabitants need somethings more than they need police officers. “Brothers and sisters, what do we need on skid row? It’s not more police,” he told the crowd. “We need mental health professionals.”
Protest leaders during the demonstration connected the fatal shooting of Africa to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City. Protesters are planning another local march April 14, as well as an action in Washington, D.C.