*The in-your-face style of today’s activists is raising the eyebrows of longtime civil rights leaders in Los Angeles, who are disappointed with how the new generation of leaders is working to bring about change.
Evidence of the current activists’ actions can be found in the shutting down of freeways, in addition to the disruption of community meetings and camping outside the headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department and the home of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles Times’ Angel Jennings notes. The politician found himself in the crosshairs of Black Lives Matter activists last month when they confronted him at his first town hall meeting with area residents at Holman United Methodist Church.
According to reports, about 50 demonstrators turned their backs on Garcetti as he spoke to a crowd of several hundred. Upon leaving the church, the mayor was surrounded by demonstrators, who chanted while he walked to his car. The scene included one activist, who jumped on the trunk of Garcetti’s car as he stepped inside the vehicle.
For many, the aggressive actions of the new generation contrast the marches organized by veteran activists who also held news conferences and ate with political figures in LA as an effective way of bringing reforms. Although the new crop of community activists—many of whom came of age during the 1992 Los Angeles riots—reject the traditional tactics of the “old guard,” Jennings reports “they have adopted acts of civil disobedience used during the 1960s civil rights era and are more interested in pushing city officials and politicians to make change than in sitting on their commissions and boards—and waiting.”
“United under the banner of the national group Black Lives Matter, they are actually a loose coalition of organizations that believe that a more in-your-face approach to issues like excessive use of police force is not only more effective, but justified,” she wrote.
“You can’t attempt to employ 1980s and 1990s strategies in a 2015 moment,” Pete White, founder of Los Angeles Community Action Network and a member of Black Lives Matter, told Jennings. “There’s a push back against methods and individuals whose message did not work.”
On the flip side, the veteran activists believe the actions of some of the modern-day protesters distract from their message.
“With Black Lives Matter being a new organization with young activists, they don’t have the experience or discipline to be more effective advocates,” said longtime activist Najee Ali. “They seem like a one-trick pony and all they can do is disrupt and make noise.”
As a result of the different approaches, a rift exists between the longstanding activists and their younger counterparts that has shades of ideological disagreements that among those involved with black activism over many generations.
Regarding the Garcetti situation, national Black Lives Matter group co-founder Patrisse Cullors told Jennings that although they promised to work with Black Lives Matter activists to hold a forum, he went behind their backs and partnered with the Rev. Kelvin Sauls, a member of the established group of black reformers who invited Garcetti to speak at the meeting.
Garcetti’s planned return to Holman United Methodist Church on Sunday (Nov. 1) was halted when said he decided to cancel the event after news of it leaked online, Sauls said.
In her report, Jennings referenced Jasmyne Cannick, a political consultant, who weighed in on the mayor’s cancellation, saying that Garcetti appeared to be dividing the black community into “good black people” and “bad black people,” essentially classifying Black Lives Matter among the latter by leaning on the generally older, seasoned activists and seeming to exclude the new voices.
Despite the tension, Jennings mentioned that the veteran and new groups of activists stated they are willing to work together toward a common goal.
For more of Jennings’ LA Times report, click here.