A small group of demonstrators gathered Sunday afternoon at the Anthony McClain memorial on Raymond Avenue, across the street from La Pintoresca Park.
The oft-removed and replaced memorial has been the site of numerous gatherings and protests, as well as violence, since the Aug. 15 shooting of Anthony McClain, who was shot by a Pasadena police officer while fleeing a traffic stop.
Sunday’s event, led by Pasadena activist Jasmine Abdullah Richards, was a small and somber event, as just more than a dozen protesters shared stories and remembrances of victims of violence. A planned march was canceled, ostensibly because of the small crowd, which was the smallest so far of scores of protest events in Pasadena since May.
Demonstrators also decried what they called the “criminalization” of the McClain memorial, which has been repeatedly removed by Pasadena Public Works crews throughout the past week, only to be replaced by local activists.
On Saturday night, demonstrators showed up at Mayor Terry Tornek’s house to present demands related to the incident.
Tornek said he went outside to talk with the demonstrators but was immediately shouted down.
“References made to important police oversight reforms were dismissed, so I returned to my home,” Tornek said. “What followed was not a vigil for Mr. McClain but a loud effort to intimidate and attack me personally. I was subjected to obscene chants and personal insults for an extended period of time.”
In his statement, Tornek said the focus of the incident “was largely not on Mr. McClain, but rather about promoting the agenda of the event spokesperson and organizer and her efforts to compel me to have a variety of criminal charges pending against her dropped.”
Ultimately the group left candles and signage, Tornek said.
“Sometime later, my wife and I moved the candles from the street right of way and relocated them onto the curb with the others so that a car wouldn’t run into them. We also removed the signage, some of which included references to murder and killer cops,” Tornek said.
On her Facebook page, Richards said Tornek is trying to bury the truth about what happened to McClain.
The 32-year-old McClain was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over by Pasadena officers on Raymond Avenue near Grandview Street at about 8 p.m. Aug. 15. Police said McClain was shot once in the upper body after he got out of the vehicle and began running. A second shot grazed his shoulder but was not life-threatening.
Police allege McClain was reaching at his waistband while running, compelling the officer to fire. Police also reported that after being shot McClain continued running and ditched an unregistered handgun, which was prohibited because he was on probation for robbery. He later died at an area hospital.
In his statement, Tornek said that having a place for people to mourn and grieve Mr. McClain is real and valid.
“I support it, but when I tried to discuss alternatives, that group would have none of it. I believe that the appropriate place for mourning would be at one or more churches; not on Raymond Avenue or my home,” Tornek’s statement read.
“We need to come together as a community.”