Twenty-four hours after his chief of police, Michel Moore, ignited anger with comments equating looters with the officers in whose care George Floyd died, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti faced the media.
Earlier in the day, at a police commission public comment session, Chief Moore and Mayor Garcetti were excoriated by angry Angelenos, who called for both of them to resign.
Asked Tuesday evening if he still had confidence in Moore, Garcetti responded, “I’ve known this man’s heart for decades. When I heard him say what he said I knew that he did not mean it…It was wrong. I’m glad he quickly corrected it and further corrected it was well.”
The mayor said he would not be making any announcements on Tuesday but, if he thought Moore had meant what he said, Garcetti promised, “he would no longer be chief of police.”
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“This is immensely difficult work,” said the mayor. “I want to thank the police officers who are out there on the line.”
As for his proposed city budget, which has come under fire after critics pointed out that $1.8 billion is allocated to police, Garcetti said, “I hear what people are saying out there. The next couple days I hope to show what we can do to make sure…those things are reflected in our dollars.”
“Justice is never given, it is earned,” said the mayor. “It falls on elected officials to not just speak, but to act.”
Garcetti said instead said he had “hope” for Los Angeles. “I am so proud of this city,” he said. “We aren’t where we want to be, but we aren’t where we used to be…This is moment of hope and opportunity.”
“To African Americans in this city, I want to say, ‘I hear you,'” said the mayor. “I celebrate you on the streets.”
“I want to talk from my heart to, and about, black angelenos,” said Garcetti. “At the end of the day, this story is about the pain that they carry.”
He then brought up a sixteen year old high school student whom he said he had met on Tuesday.
“I was recently stopped by police officers and racially profiled,” said the student. “I was a accused of being a gang member. That really hurt, because I am a man of God.”
“Loosing our life to police officers,” he continued, “is one of our biggest fears in South L.A….There is no need to loot and tear down. It is my prayer, my deep prayer, that we come together in unity.”
“My simple pledge to you,” said Garcetti, “I look forward to the day when we get rid of the curfew, when we loose the helmets, when we get rid of the national guard.”
To get there, intoned the mayor, “We have two choices Los Angeles. We have hopelessness…or we have hope.”
Garcetti then called for a “Summer of peace this summer in Los Angeles.”
“Tomorrow the sun will rise above Los Angeles. I have a choice to make, and I choose to build.”
“Hopelessness is not an option.”
Earlier in the day, the mayor’s home in Hancock Park was the scene of a protest by hundreds of protesters holding signs demanding Moore’s ouster.
Garcetti joined protesters downtown and took a knee with them. “I felt a little couped up today, so I went outside.”
That came after the mayor didn’t show up to a live feedback session held by the police commission, at which Chief Moore was excoriated by angry L.A. residents. Residents who not only repeatedly called for the chief’s ouster, but called out Garcetti for his absence.
Erik Pederson contributed to this report.