The police chief of Los Angeles was facing calls for his firing late Monday – and the city’s mayor was facing calls for his own resignation -- after comments the chief made about rioters and looters taking the streets in the nation’s second-largest city.
“We didn’t have protests last night, we had criminal acts. We didn’t have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd. We had people capitalizing,” Chief Michel Moore said.
“His death is on their hands as much as it is those officers,” the chief added. “And that is a strong statement but I must say that this civil unrest that we are in the midst of, we must turn a corner from people who are involved in violence, people who are involved in preying on others.”
“His death is on their hands as much as it is those officers.”
Moore had prefaced his comment by saying Los Angeles police made “just under 700 arrests” during rioting the previous evening.
“Of that, just under 70 were for looting and burglarizing,” he added.
After Mayor Eric Garcetti followed with some remarks, Moore returned to the podium and claimed he “misspoke” about Floyd’s death.
“I misspoke when I said his blood was on their hands,” the chief said, “but certainly their actions do not serve the enormity of his loss. What his name should stand for is the catalyst for change. I regret the remarks of that characterization, but I don’t regret, nor will I apologize to those out there creating destruction. His memory deserves better.”
Moore then underscored: “His death was at the hands of those police officers. What I saw there wasn’t right.”
Both Moore and Garcetti later followed up with Twitter messages attempting to backtrack from Moore’s initial statement.
“Let me be clear,” Moore wrote, “there are 4 police officers and 4 alone responsible for the death of George Floyd.
“Simply put: Those intent on spewing mayhem and distraction into our communities are a disgrace to his memory.”
Later, Moore commented further, using the word “apology.”
“My Apology for Remark Regarding the Death of George Floyd During a Press Conference Earlier Today: I misspoke when making a statement about those engaging in violent acts following the murder of George Floyd,” Moore wrote.
“While I did immediately correct myself, I recognize that the initial words were terribly offensive. Looting is wrong, but it is not the equivalent of murder and I did not mean to equate the two. I deeply regret and humbly apologize for my characterization.
“Let me be clear: the police officers involved were responsible for the death of George Floyd.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti also posted a message on Twitter.
“The responsibility for George Floyd’s death rests solely with the police officers involved,” Garcetti wrote. “Chief Moore regrets the words he chose this evening and has clarified them.”
But from the reaction on social media, it appeared both Moore and Garcetti had infuriated many with their statements. Here are some samples:
In addition, a petition titled “Fire Police Chief Moore” appearing on Change.org had attracted nearly 300 signatures in less than an hour.