Peaceful Protesters Lament L.A.’s Violent Zimmerman Demonstrations

Joseph Serna and Angel Jennings, Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2013

As small groups of rogue protesters wreaked havoc along Crenshaw Boulevard on Monday night following a George Zimmerman verdict protest, some within the demonstration tried to warn potential victims.

City Terrace resident Cuauhtemoc Negrete said he was told: “You better blend in or you’re going to get hurt.” The group eventually approached him, someone punched him in the head and another person stole his bicycle.

Police estimated that about 150 people took part in the violence after the peaceful vigil at Leimert Park following a Florida jury’s Saturday acquittal of Zimmerman, 29, on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in last year’s shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

“I figured with all the evidence [Zimmerman] would’ve been guilty,” Negrete said. “The demonstrations, they’re trying to prove that we’re not stupid. We’re going to call out injustice whenever it happens. We’re not just going to stay silent.”

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Hours into Monday’s demonstration at Leimert Park, groups of young demonstrators splintered off.

Negrete, the East L.A. resident, found himself standing alone on the corner of Vernon Avenue and Crenshaw at Leimert Park when he was singled out by some of the agitators, who approached him and drew a crowd behind them.

Negrete pulled out a wrench, which comes in handy for the bicycle he uses to get around town, he said.

“I was there for the 6 p.m. March. We were going up and down the streets and all of a sudden all these kids just started trashing things, going up to people,” he said.

Now they were going after him. Negrete said he dropped the wrench when it didn’t scare off the aggressors. He also dropped his bicycle and canteen at his feet and lifted his shirt.

Negrete said he didn’t see who hit him. He was punched once in the back of the head. Another person grabbed his bike and rode off, but that was it.

“It just made me feel so small,” he said.

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He said he felt he was targeted because he was Latino. Others in the crowd said they saw similar incidents.

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“I feel like, our presence would be more of a uniting factor. If there’s more Latinos, more light-skinned people… We all live in the same city,” Negrete said. “We all have basically the same issues. I feel like we’re pretty much stuck in the same boat. Why would you want to punch me? We should be united, not fighting each other.”

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