More than 100 protesters opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn federal abortion protections rallied for a fourth day of demonstrations Monday in downtown Los Angeles.
RiseUp4AbortionRights sponsored the afternoon rally that began at the U.S. Courthouse in the 300 block of First Street. The group rallied outside the court building before marching on several downtown streets.
On Sunday, a rally coordinated by The Feminist Front and Generation Ratify took place at Grand Park, City News Service reported. These protests followed two days of demonstrations in opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Friday to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
Several streets around the LA Civic Center were temporarily closed Saturday as a result of two large abortion rights demonstrations downtown, one at Grand Park and another outside the federal courthouse on First Street.
A third rally occurred at the Federal Building in Westwood.
Saturday’s demonstrations were mostly orderly and nonviolent, except for a brief attempt by protesters to access the Hollywood (101) Freeway, according to media reports. Police said demonstrators entered the off-ramp from Broadway Avenue at 3:42 p.m., but the area was cleared in about 17 minutes.
Friday’s protests calling for abortion rights were not as peaceful, however — 30-year-old Michael Ortiz was arrested and charged with attempted murder for allegedly attacking an LAPD officer with a “makeshift flame thrower,” according to police.
Hundreds of protesters convened downtown shortly after the Supreme Court announced its Roe v. Wade strike-down, and after some clashes occurred between police and demonstrators, the LAPD declared an unlawful assembly and issued a temporary citywide tactical alert to clear the streets.
Police arrested two people, and four officers were injured, LAPD officials said in a statement.
In addition to Ortiz, Juliana Bernado, 23, was arrested on suspicion of resisting an officer.
Police said Ortiz hurled a makeshift flamethrower at an officer who required treatment at a hospital for burns.
Bernado allegedly tried to take an officer’s baton, which prompted police to shoot “a 40mm less lethal round” at her before she was arrested and taken into custody.
“I condemn the violence against officers that occurred last night (Friday) and into today (Saturday morning),” Police Chief Michel Moore said in a statement Saturday. “Individuals participating in such criminal activity are not exercising their First Amendment rights in protest of the Supreme Court decision, rather, they are acting as criminals. The Department will vigorously pursue prosecution of these individuals.”
The Police Protective League also issued a statement Saturday condemning the actions of some in the crowd at Friday’s protest.
“As a society, it should be easy to condemn attacking police officers with improvised blowtorches, or throwing fireworks, rocks and bottles at officers under the guise of ‘protest.’ Yet, the silence is deafening from our so-called community’s leaders,” League officials said. “This type of raw violence on display in Los Angeles and across the nation from dangerous mobs hell-bent on destruction has nothing to do with a woman’s right to choose. Rather, it is nothing more than disgusting opportunistic behavior carried out by criminals hiding behind our First Amendment.”
“Full House” actress Jodie Sweetin spoke out Sunday after alleging that police officers pushed her to the ground at an abortion rights demonstration in Los Angeles.
Video of the confrontation shows Sweetin approaching an LAPD skirmish line on a freeway ramp. Two officers push Sweetin away from the line, causing her to stumble forward and fall over a raised curb.
“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken.”
A reporter with L.A. Taco tweeted late Friday that he also was assaulted by a group of officers.
“LAPD officers shoved me and jabbed @joeyneverjoe in the stomach with a baton, sending him to the ground. We both identified ourselves as press repeatedly,” Lexis-Oliver Ray tweeted.
On a video of the incident, officers in riot gear can be heard shouting, “Leave the area, go back,” as well as Ray describing himself as a member of the press.
An LAPD spokeswoman told City News Service on Saturday that the department had no comment on Ray’s tweets. She added that no media staging area was set up for the demonstrations.