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Glendale Police Chief: 'Agitators' sparked fights over LGBTQ+ school board meeting

Glendale Police Chief: 'Agitators' sparked fights over LGBTQ+ school board meeting
Glendale Police Chief: 'Agitators' sparked fights over LGBTQ+ school board meeting 02:16

Glendale's police chief Wednesday blamed "agitators on both sides of the issue" for inciting violence that erupted outside a meeting of the Glendale Unified School District board, which was set to discuss policies in support of LGBTQ+ classroom curriculum.


The melee erupted Tuesday night as hundreds of people gathered outside the district's headquarters in the 200 block of North Jackson Street, where the board was meeting. Many people in the crowd held signs and waved American and LGBTQ+ Pride flags.

While the gathering was initially peaceful, factions on both sides of the emotional issue eventually grew confrontational, leading to fights and fists being thrown, ultimately prompting the arrests of at least three people.

"Yesterday evening, the Glendale Police Department professionally facilitated a large protest outside the Glendale Unified School District Board meeting," Glendale police Chief Manuel Cid said in a statement Wednesday morning -- which is the district's last day of school.

"While passionate and boisterous, the protest was largely peaceful, allowing community members to voice their perspectives on issues surrounding the school district," Cid said. "Unfortunately, a handful of agitators, on both sides of the issue, arrived at the demonstration with a clear desire to confront and incite violence, ultimately engaging in physical assaults. Glendale police officers responded to these fights swiftly and professionally, quickly making arrests and restoring order to the situation.

"Moving forward, the Glendale Police Department will use all the investigative tools available to us to identify any persons responsible for acts of violence at yesterday's protest and bring them to justice. The Glendale Police Department and the Glendale community will continue to honor and protect people's right to free speech and assembly. However, individuals who wish to incite disorder and violence in our community will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly by our police department."

Information on the arrestees was not immediately available from police Wednesday morning.

Earlier, Glendale police Sgt. Victor Jackson had described what happened.

"Both sides took to social media to rally their supporters to convene at GUSD Headquarters ahead of the last board meeting of the school year," Jackson said. "The police department was present to ensure public safety and facilitate peaceful demonstrations."

Officers set up large barricades at the site to assist with crowd control.

Opponents of the board's LGBTQ+ policies chanted, "Leave our kids alone" outside the meeting, while naming each of the five board members, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement about the incident Wednesday afternoon that said: 

"I spoke with Superintendent Ekchian and I want to thank her and the Glendale Unified School Board for standing tall against this organized campaign of hate.

"In California, we celebrate the beauty of pluralism - how our diverse communities, heritages, and identities belong and, together, make us whole. Glendale represents the best of this commitment, but the hate we saw on full display last night does not.

"What should have been a routine vote - simply recognizing Pride Month for the fourth year in a row - turned to violence. The words of the resolution did not change from years past, but what has changed is a wave of division and demonization sweeping our nation. With hate on the rise nationally, we must rise together in California to affirm what both Pride Month and Immigrant Heritage Month represent - that in the Golden State, no matter who you are or what diverse community you are from, you belong."  

Police issued a shelter-in-place order to those inside the building, cutting short the public comment portion regarding the agenda item to declare June Pride Month in the district.

"While most of the protest was peaceful, a small group of individuals engaged in behavior deemed unsafe and a risk to public safety," Jackson said. "Despite police attempts to de-escalate the situation, at least three individuals were arrested for various charges, including unlawful use of pepper spray and willfully obstructing officers in the course of their duties.

"After the initial arrests, additional attempts to de-escalate the crowd failed," Jackson said. "Once the protest exceeded the bounds of peaceful assembly and in adherence to our duty to protect public safety, a dispersal order was given just after 6 p.m. Additional police resources were requested to ensure the safety of the Glendale community would not be compromised."

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