A video posted on social media last week shows anonymous members of an anarchist group covering Hollywood Walk of Fame stars with the names of African Americans who have been killed by police. [video]
A video posted on social media last week shows anonymous members of an anarchist group covering Hollywood Walk of Fame stars with the names of African Americans who have been killed by police. The video conceals the anarchists' faces as they use adhesive to attach name plates - and the group's logo - to the terrazo and brass stars. The names represent several African Americans who were unarmed when they were killed by police in recent years, including Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Oscar Grant.
The footage is set to a fiery Malcolm X speech following the fatal 1962 police shooting of Nation of Islam officer Ronald Stokes in Los Angeles.
"We want an immediate end to this police brutality," he says as the video shows a Los Angeles Police Department sign.
"Someone has to pay," Malcolm says as a pair of gloved hands holds a Freddie Gray name plate before gluing it on a blank star. "Somewhere, somehow, someone has to pay."
The video concludes with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the Walk of Fame, said Wednesday that the stars have been removed.
"The Hollywood Walk of Fame is an institution celebrating the positive contributions of celebrity inductees," Leron Gubler, the chamber's president and CEO, said in a statement to The Washington Post. "As an internationally renowned icon, it attracts worldwide attention. We recognize that there are people upset about numerous issues and lobbying for change, but we would hope that they would project their anger in more positive ways than to vandalize a California State landmark. The stars were cleaned up as soon as the vandalism was discovered."
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told The Post that the department hadn't received any reports about the vandalism.
The video was released amid an ongoing national conversation around race, policing and criminal-justice reform.
As The Post's Wesley Lowery reported in December: "Activists and criminal-justice experts say the national ethos regarding race and policing has changed dramatically since a black teenager was shot to death by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014. Since then, sustained protests in multiple cities, an aggressive social media campaign and a steady drip of viral videos revealing questionable police shootings have eroded the societal reflex to defend police and blame the dead victim."
Fatal encounters with police, he wrote, "have also soured the public's opinion of law enforcement":
In June, a Gallup poll found that about half of Americans surveyed expressed "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in police, a 22-year low. Meanwhile, a separate poll found the percentage of black Americans who see race as the nation's most urgent problem increased from 3 percent at the beginning of 2014 to 15 percent after Ferguson.
"The American public has accepted that this is a real problem. They've seen Eric Garner, then Michael Brown, then Walter Scott, then Sandra Bland," said Al Sharpton, the New York-based activist who for decades has been among the nation's most prominent proponents of policing reform.
"We've seen a shift because, with story after story, the public says, 'Wait a minute. They can't be making all of this up.'"
Last month, a civilian oversight panel in Los Angeles found that the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man on the city's Skid Row had been justified.
The March 2015 shooting death of Charly Keunang had attracted national attention after a bystander's cellphone video of the confrontation went viral. As The Post's Sarah Kaplan reported, the footage showed what initially looked like a fist fight between a black police officer and the victim. Three more officers helped wrestle the man to the ground. There appeared to be a struggle over one of the officer's weapons - someone can be heard yelling "drop the gun" in the video. Then, the officers fired at Keunang, hitting him six times.
Just over one year later, about eight miles away from the site of that fatal encounter, the anarchist group Indecline hit Hollywood Boulevard to make a statement - and a video.
The group told Sputnik News that the name plates were glued to the stars on March 19.
"We haven't discussed a plan in regards to returning for more, but are currently in the pre-production phases on something much more elaborate pertaining to Donald Trump," an unnamed Indecline spokesman told Sputnik News.
Peter Holley is a general assignment reporter at The Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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