A group of demonstrators gathered in front of the Los Angeles police headquarters on Tuesday to honor the spirits of people who have been killed by law enforcement officials.
The group marched from Grand Park near city hall to the LAPD headquarters carrying two large panels with the names of 646 people they say have died at the hands of police officials since 2000.
“For me it’s important to honor people killed by law enforcement because a lot of the time they’re seen just as criminals, they’re humans too,” said Juan Peña, 24, an organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition, an advocacy group working to address race, class and gender disparities in the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles.
“So what if they had a criminal record, or if they were on parole. That was still someone’s father, mother, brother, sister or a cousin,” Peña said.
The protest coincided with Dia de los Muertos, an annual celebration of the dead observed in Mexico. The demonstrators said it was important to honor those who been killed by police because their reputation is often scrutinized in the media.
“We believe the in the humanity of everyone and we want to lift up their true stories,” said Kim McGill, an organizer with Youth Justice Coalition (YJC).
A report published by YJC in 2014 claims to have the most accurate count of people that were killed by law enforcement officials in Los Angeles.
When the police department denied YJC's public information request seeking the number of people who were killed by police, the group took a chance and sent the same request to the county coroner's office.
The coroner’s data ultimately helped YJC conclude at least 646 people have been killed in Los Angeles by law enforcement officials since 2000. YJC says it reached the 646 count using a combination of news reports, an itemized list developed by a USC students and the coroner's report.