Los Angeles and Houston, Weekend of May 29–31

Eyewitness accounts from protests this weekend in Los Angeles and Houston against the police murder of George Floyd.


Ryan, Los Angeles

The protests in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles, organized by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, were well attended and sprawling. Thousands of people were in the streets, and on multiple occasions pushed back police when they attempted to encroach into protest areas with their vehicles.

Some of those police vehicles had been vandalized with the phrase “ACAB” spray painted on and windows busted out. One abandoned police car was jutting out into the street with similar graffiti and all of the windows busted. Later, that same vehicle was on fire, one of a handful of what also looked to be car fires.

A few storefront windows were broken, and many commercial buildings were tagged with phrases like “Black Lives Matter,” “ACAB,” “Fuck 12,” and “Fuck the Police.”

Where I was at, I didn’t see any seriously violent clashes with police, who for the most part remained in their vehicles and retreated as protesters pushed forward in their direction. Multiple helicopters circled the area for the entire duration of the protest. I was told of reports that later on, LAPD had called ICE in to target undocumented protesters.

Folko, Houston

A protest to demand “Justice 4 George Floyd” was organized by the local Black Lives Matter chapter in Houston for Friday, May 29. The protesters gathered around 2 p.m. at Discovery Green and then marched about 10 blocks up to City Hall. It was there I joined the protest about 45 minutes later.

It was a large, spirited, predominantly young, and multiracial crowd. Chants of “No justice, no peace!”, “I can’t breathe!”, and “Black lives matter!” were echoing around the empty high-rise office buildings of downtown Houston. It is hard to give an estimated headcount. Even at that early stage, the crowds dispersed somewhat and there were at least two or three epicenters of protest not just in front of City Hall but also behind and off to the side of the building. I do know that over 800 people said they would attend, but I would think the actual crowd turned out to be well closer to 2,000 people. There was no visible Houston DSA contingent, but I learned from our chats that several comrades were planning on going.

I was at the protest for about two hours and witnessed no major incidents while I was there. However, I did hear a number of rumors. I later found out that there were indeed skirmishes with cops and those only intensified as the protest went on and smaller groups continued into the night. There were also further protests on Saturday, including a march in Houston’s Third Ward, a historically black neighborhood where George Floyd grew up.

While I was still there, one protester was apparently trampled by a horse, although I was unaware of that at the time. The Houston Police Department (HPD) has a long history of violence, particularly against minority residents. Only a couple of weeks ago, on May 9, local activists held a car protest outside HPD’s headquarters in downtown Houston to condemn the murder of Nicolas Chavez, who was shot and killed by officers on April 21. The “weapon” Nicolas Chavez allegedly carried that night turned out to be a piece of rebar. The police claimed he was charging at the officers, but a leaked cell phone video showed that he was shot dead while he was on his knees.

Ryan Andrews is a member of Los Angeles DSA and Folko Mueller is a member of Houston DSA. They are both members of DSA's Bread & Roses caucus.