A group of church leaders and community activists took issue this week with tactics used by the group Black Lives Matter, which disrupted a town hall meeting between Mayor Eric Garcetti and South Los Angeles residents last week.
Members of Black Lives Matter have staged multiple protests to speak out against fatal police shootings both in Los Angeles and across the country.
They have repeatedly confronted Garcetti, including once at his Hancock Park home as the Police Commission was preparing to render a disciplinary decision stemming from the police shooting of Ezell Ford in South Los Angeles.
While Garcetti was speaking last week at Holman United Methodist Church, members of the activist group stood and turned their backs on the mayor. Some then began shouting during the meeting and walked to the church’s altar, where the speakers were assembled, prompting the meeting to be cut short. Garcetti had to be escorted out of the church by security, which also had to clear apath so the mayor could be driven away.
At one point, an activist jumped on the trunk of Garcetti’s car.
At a South Los Angeles news conference Tuesday, the Rev. Kelvin Sauls, pastor of Holman United Methodist Church in the West Adams District, criticized the group’s aggressive actions.
“Violence starts with offensive language, being called derogatory names, being cussed at,” he said. “And I think that’s, you know, a behavior that is just not acceptable, not just in a sanctuary, but anywhere.’’
Community activist Najee Ali said a member of Black Lives Matter threatened Sauls with violence for trying to regain control of the meeting.
“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,’’ Ali said.
Members of Black Lives Matter said they were upset that Garcetti did not notify them of the town hall meeting, despite having earlier promised to meet with the group over their concerns.
Melina Abdullah, an activist with Black Lives Matter, told NBC4 she was unaware of any threats of violence against Sauls.
“We believe in non-violent direct action, and that’s the approach that we take,’’ she said.