Pasadena city officials early Wednesday removed a makeshift memorial for a man killed in a police shooting two months ago in the wake of a shooting nearby on Monday night that left two people wounded.
The memorial at La Pintoresca Park has been in place since the Aug. 15 shooting of Anthony McClain during an encounter with police in front of La Pintoresca Park.
Police in recent weeks have expressed concerns about criminal activity near the memorial, noting dozens of calls for service to the area. But some, like local pastor Kerin Manning, said they believed police were unfairly singling out the area.
More than 20 gunshots erupted near the memorial on Monday night, leaving a man and a woman wounded, according to Pasadena police Lt. Anthony Russo. No suspect description was available.
City spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said the removal of the memorial was necessary as a matter of public safety.
“The City of Pasadena has removed the Anthony McClain Memorial across from La Pintoresca Park in a safe and respective manner,” she said. “There are community members who support the decision and several who do not. However, the memorial has been concerning for residents in the neighborhood and the police department.”
Local resident Esprit Jones said she was disturbed to find the memorial gone.
“I’m quite frustrated, and I feel like it’s highly disrespectful, because PPD killed this young man in cold blood, in front of innocent bystanders, who they later terrorized in the same park,” she said.
“They’re trying to make whatever the incident on Monday about the memorial. It didn’t have anything to do with it,” Jones said.
“They’ve gotta stop treating Northwest Pasadena like we’re not human,” she said. “They have to stop.”
Police said the memorial had become a hazard to the surrounding neighborhood.
In the twp-block area surrounding the park, equating to an area with a roughly 1000-foot radius, the police department had responded to 471 calls for service since Aug. 15, according to Lt. William Grisafe. Community members generated 287 of them, while officers generated 184.
“Of the 287 Community generated calls, 114 calls have been disturbance type calls,” he said. Those include issues like noise complaints and large gatherings.
Nine of the calls involved threats with a gun, according to Grisafe. Eight assaults have been reported, as well as six additional incidents of “shots fired.” Two guns have been seized.
Pasadena Police Chief John Perez said the residents of the neighborhood want and deserve their neighborhood to return to normal and “to gain back their quality of life.”
“This has been a very difficult decision for me. I have to balance the social movement aspect of understanding the trauma of officer-involved shooting and the issue of police reform across this country, but at the same time, I have to make a decision to protect all people. And this decision was made for that,” he said.
“Two people were shot. It was all predictable. We all talked about the potential of this happening. I believed we’ve all got blood on our hands. We all have it, because of the fact we shouldn’t have probably allowed this plan to continue the way it did. I hold myself most responsible, more than anybody else,” Perez said.
“We’re here for everybody and trying to make a better community, to make sure the quality of life is where it can be to make sure that we’re all satisfied with the way we’re living in this difficult time,” he said.
Police presence was heavy in the area Wednesday, as officers provided security for a Pasadena Public Health Department flu shot clinic being held at the La Pintoresca Branch Library.
“Simultaneously, Pasadena Police Community Services will be working side-by-side with Pasadena Parks, Recreation & Community Services, distributing valuable information to community members regarding crime prevention and recreation,” Derderian said.
“The police department will execute a detailed operations plan to provide extra service to the neighborhood over the next two weeks,” she said. “The police department will also be taking a proactive approach espousing outreach, prevention, intervention, and enforcement at and near the park.”
Grisafe said the goal was to stem any further violence.
“We have our park safety specialists who are going to be in the park for the morning portion of the day. Okay. And then we were going to have teams out here to make sure that people are following the rules of the park, make sure that at 10 o’clock — when the park closes — that people understand it’s closed and they need to leave, taking any enforcement action if necessary,” he said.
“We want some visibility out here so that we don’t have issues, so that people will come back to the park,” Grisafe said. “Essentially, today it’s a presence, and hopefully that’s enough to deter any type of future violence. Because that’s really, what we need to do is we need to deter it. We need to prevent or mitigate any type of violence here.”
McClain was shot and killed by a Pasadena police officer after a car he was riding in as a passenger was pulled over for failing to display a front license plate, authorities said.
Police said McClain drew a pistol from his waistband as he ran from the officers. But attorney’s representing family members in three wrongful death claims have disputed the police account.
The scene of the shooting was adorned with a memorial of candles and flowers, and the memorial remained in place until it was removed Wednesday morning.