It is nearly 1 a.m. here in West Hollywood, and I’ve just been from a demonstration of several hundred people who are still winding through the streets of this city and back and forth into next door Hollywood to protest against the passage of Proposition 8.
The crowd was an energetic group of demonstrators largely in their 20s and early 30s, chanting “Equality Now” and “Yes, We Can,” and cheering as many cars stuck in the gridlock honked their horns in support. There is what I would call controlled anger, but what is striking is that this group is a younger and more aggressive group than those who ran the No on 8 campaign. Many had never participated in anything like this before.
At Santa Monica and Robertson, the demonstrators stopped marching for about 15 minutes, shouting “Gay. Straight. Black White. Marriage is a civil right.” They chanted at the corner without stop (my video below), interrupting only at one point to sing “The Star Spangled Banner,” drowning out noise from nearby nightclubs.
Several groups of demonstrators splintered off, one heading to Beverly Hills and another to the Mormon Temple in West Los Angeles, to protest against the infusion of money and organization that the church put into the Yes on 8 cause. They planned another demonstration at the same site at 2 p.m. tomorrow, where Lorri Jean, one of the leaders of Yes on 8, planned to have a “conversation” with Mormon leaders.
Several demonstrators who were part of the larger march were arrested in Hollywood near the CNN headquarters when they apparently tried to break through police lines, and news stations showed officers striking a demonstrator with batons during a scuffle. I talked to a city official from the mayor’s office who was on the scene and said that the LAPD was put on tactical alert when the demonstrators spilled over into L.A. city boundaries. Others pressed up against glass doors at CNN headquarters in Hollywood, chanting in views of the TV cameras.
Among those who was in the march was Scott Schmidt, leader of Republicans Against 8, and Lance Black, the screenwriter of the upcoming movie “Milk.”
Schmidt wrote on his blog, “LAPD’s mistake was stopping the crowd rather than directing it back to West Hollywood. LAPD went on tactical alert, which seemed like an over-reaction, when they should have coordinated with the Sheriff, which handled things well.”
The evening started with a rally at West Hollywood Park, where some 2,000 people listened to speeches from Jean, West Hollywood city councilman John Duran, the Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas and Rabbi Denise Eger.
Proposition 8 was a stinging loss, but I can’t help but wonder: Could this energy and anger have been harnessed before the election, not after?