Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday that he stood by his support for protests in Portland that have turned violent, saying that “individual moments” of violence did not reflect the behavior of demonstrators as a whole.
Garcetti had tweeted Thursday in solidarity with the violent demonstrations in Portland, saying that they “represent the best of our democratic ideals.”
Demonstrators for racial justice represent the best of our democratic ideals. The President’s unilateral deployment of federal forces betrays them — and does nothing to keep us safe.
L.A. stands with our friends in Portland.
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) July 23, 2020
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany showed reporters a video montage of violence during recent demonstrations in Portland, which included scenes of rioters firing fireworks at a federal courthouse, assaulting a federal law enforcement officer, setting fires, and toppling a statue of George Washington.
She also detailed some of the injuries suffered by federal officers defending the courthouse, noting that three might have been permanently blinded by lasers aimed by rioters.
Breitbart News was able to ask Garcetti a question during his weekly press briefing:
Breitbart News: Good evening, Mayor. I have a question about a tweet you sent yesterday about Portland. You expressed solidarity with the demonstrators there, and said that they “represent the best of our democratic ideals.” But the violence there has been hard to ignore, and Portland police have talked about [demonstrators] setting fires at the courthouse, people firing projectiles, throwing bricks at local law enforcement, and now the clashes with federal law enforcement. And the White House showed a video montage of all the violence that has accompanied the protests there. And it’s not even clear what they’re really protesting. So how does that “represent the best of our democratic ideals”?
Garcetti: I know that with protesters, and often times this happens the opposite way with police officers, individual moments, people want to paint as the brush of the collective behavior. Certainly the actions that we saw in Minneapolis of four officers don’t reflect the actions of every police officer in America. Nor do actions of protesters — or, in some cases, people who aren’t even protesters, who would take advantage of protests, either to loot or to cause violence — represent what Americans are doing across America, which is peacefully protesting, and making sure that they exercise, not only their right, but their responsibility, to speak out against systemic racism, to cry out when there is unnecessary death of Americans like George Floyd, and to call for a reimagining of what we can do to co-create an even safer America for everybody. To me, that is the best of America. Even when there’s people who I disagree with. Even when people say things in a way that I wouldn’t. I do think that it is a good day in a democracy when people are exercising their democratic rights. And that’s what I was talking about. If people want to pick out people who are violating the law, that is not what I’m talking about. But people who are out there standing up to claim this democracy and to stand against the hateful values that we have seen come out of both incidents like what we saw in Minneapolis, and sometimes coming out of the highest levels of the leaders in this land, I think it’s again, not only their right, but their responsibility. Thank you.
Breitbart News: Mr. Mayor, if I could just follow up quickly. You mentioned John Lewis [earlier]. He was a non-violent protester and an organizer. And there’s nothing non-violent about these protests. They’re not organized. There’s no sense of the history of non-violent protest in this country. It’s just not clear that there’s any sort of attempt even to march in a way that would appeal to Americans in general. This is just a confrontation with authority that’s turned very violent.
Garcetti: That’s your summary of it. I would respectfully disagree. I’ve seen people marching very peacefully in Portland. I’ve seen mothers joining arms. I’ve seen children out there making art. I’ve seen many people doing that. Just as if we cut to our high school classes and watch the images of the civil rights struggle, you will see clashes that happened. That did not represent who we are. Again, I’m not speaking about people who break the law, but to say that all protesters, in Portland or here, are people who are breaking the law, I just think [it’s] statistically not true.
Earlier, Garcetti noted that Los Angeles had seen the transmission rate of COVID-19 fall slightly below the magic number of 1.0, above which the pandemic is expanding, and below which it is not. The rate had fallen from 1.07 to 0.94.
The seven-day average positivity rate had also dropped somewhat, from 13.6% last week to 11.6% this week.
As a result, the mayor said, he would not be introducing any new closures, but there would not be any move to relax current restrictions in the city.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.