Hours after Pasadena city officials removed a makeshift memorial Tuesday morning for a man killed in an officer-involved police shooting two months ago, and following a shooting nearby earlier this week that left two people wounded, a new memorial was erected.
But by Thursday morning, the new memorial of candles, flowers and photos had also been removed.
Residents and neighbors constructed the new memorial to Anthony McLain, 32, Wednesday night across the street from La Pintoresca Park in Northwest Pasadena. The memorial had grown several times larger than the previous memorial — which had remained up for nearly two months — with scores of new votive candles, flowers and handwritten signs.
McLain was shot and killed while fleeing police on Aug. 15. Police later recovered a pistol from the scene with McLain’s DNA on it.
Police and city officials said Wednesday that it had been determined that the memorial had become a magnet for crime and disturbances and needed to be removed for the benefit of public safety.
That determination had not changed Thursday, resulting in the Department of Public Works returning to the site to remove the new memorial on Thursday morning, officials said.
“Although the memorial and its potential impact will constantly be evaluated, if there are concerns about public safety, the city will continue to take action,” said Pasadena police Lt. William Grisafe.
“Our hope is that those community members who wish to mour, can find alternative ways without impacting the safety of the park and surrounding area,” Grisafe said.
The issue was brought up by the city’s Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, the lieutenant said. “At an appropriate time, [city] staff intends to bring forward a discussion on the matter.”
Residents said Wednesday evening that police were “harassing” neighbors and pulling them over for traffic stops, following a day of heavy police presence in and around La Pintoresca Park, which has been plagued by an alarming increase in violence since McClain’s shooting death.
“People have been coming by here all day and bringing flowers and candles,” said resident Espirit Jones, who lives across the street from the park. Jones also said that “multiple officers have circled the block multiple times” throughout the evening.
Small groups of neighbors, residents and activists have visited the memorial throughout the afternoon following the departure of police officers in the park, who were attending a flu shot clinic presented by the La Pintoresca Branch Library.
The original memorial had been in place since Aug. 15.
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 spokesperson 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,” Derderian 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.”
Police said the memorial had become a hazard to the surrounding neighborhood.
In the two-block area surrounding the park, a roughly 1,000-foot radius, police responded to 471 calls for service since Aug. 15, according to Grisafe. Community members generated 287 of those calls, 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 were reported, as well as six additional incidents of “shots fired.” Two guns were 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 an 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,” said the chief.
The Police Department will execute a detailed operations plan to provide extra service to the neighborhood over the next two weeks. The 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. 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.