Photo Essay: If We Don’t Have Justice…

In the summer of 2020, in the throes of a global pandemic, Los Angeles- like the rest of the U.S. was consumed with protests in reaction to the extra-judicial murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police.

Aaron Guy Leroux
Extra Newsfeed
6 min readJan 19, 2021

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…there’ll be no peace

Having arrived home in Los Angeles, exhausted after a turbulent year working on the streets of Hong Kong; I anticipated a quiet summer spent in the warm embrace of friends and family. What I found was a long-overdue reckoning over the conduct and methods of American policing. The streets of America, like those of France, Hong Kong, Sudan, and, many other countries around the world were filled with angry citizens demanding systemic change from the power structures within their respective societies; each motivated by their own set of injustices. I found Streets fogged in tear gas, overrun with police eager to exert force over a populace who would no longer tolerate extra-judicial murder as an acceptable by-product of the broken institution of policing. Nor would they tolerate, for another minute, a deeply compromised system of justice that has aided and abetted those murders and other assorted acts of violence and terror for generations.

( Left )With Neighbors Like These: Fairfax, Los Angeles — The unfortunately named Officer Neighbors holds a position at the corner of Beverly and Stanley as his colleague's fire on protestors with tear gas grenades and pepper balls. Angelinos took to the streets to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. May 30, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA / (Right) Milk & Tears: Fairfax, Los Angeles: Akasia, 24 years old, a native of Los Angeles washed out her eyes with milk after being tear-gassed by riot police. Angelinos took to the streets to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. May 30, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Do Not Cross: Westmont, Los Angeles: An LA Sheriff’s Deputy stands behind a police line at Black Lives Matter protest at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters. Angelinos took to the streets to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. May 30, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Tread on Me: Santa Monica, California: Just outside the entrance of a looted Vons grocery store, what remains of a trampled American Flag. Angelinos took to the streets for the second day to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. May 31, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Who’s There: Fairfax, Los Angeles: A young man gropes blindly as he stumbles down Beverly Blvd after being tear-gassed. He cries out “Who’s there?” and “I Can’t See!” Angelinos took to the streets to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. May 30, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Resist: Beverly Hills: Three friends (from left to right), Reneisha Davis (25) from LA, Camaree Barr (26), from Baltimore, and Samia Jones (27) from New Jersey, raise their fists during a moment of silence. Angelinos participate in another day of demonstrations against continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 5, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
The Guard: Downtown, Los Angeles — The National Guard was on the scene today, but was deployed with a noticeably light touch. Many small groups of two, and a few or four or five. The effect was oddly reassuring. All the guardsmen and women were pleasant and seemed in good spirits when interacting with protestors. Citizens participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the fifth day of demonstrations against continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 3, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Raise Your Fists: Downtown, Los Angeles — Protestors are instructed to take a knee, and raise their fists as they begin to chant “Say his name: George Floyd!” Citizens participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the fifth day of demonstrations against continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 3, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Posse: Santa Monica, California — A posse of LASD deputies speed off to go clear another block. Angelinos took to the streets for the second day to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. May 31, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
(Left) Protest: Hollywood — A protestor refuses to budge from her car. This woman was, several minutes later, arrested by a group of officers who also arrested this reporter as well. Angelinos took to the streets for a third day to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. June 1, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA / (Right)On the Move: Fairfax, Los Angeles — LAPD, backed by riot police from the Sheriff’s Department, advance East along Beverly Blvd firing sponge rounds, pepper balls, as well as tear gas and tear gas grenades. Angelinos took to the streets to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. May 30, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Fight The Power: Downtown, Los Angeles — After making a speech, a young Angelino moves down the steps of City Hall to make way for another speaker. Citizens participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the fifth day of demonstrations against continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 3, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA

On June 2, 2020, I was arrested along with three other journalists and dozens of civilians. We were all cited for a curfew violation while covering protests in Hollywood. The arrest was illegal, violating my rights both as an Angelino and as an American journalist. As a credentialed journalist, I was exempt from the curfew in Los Angeles County that night. The charges were subsequently dropped by the LA City Attorney, setting a dangerous precedent for the removal of journalists from the field. Here is my account of that arrest from Press Freedom Tracker:

Citation: Downtown, Los Angeles — I was given a citation for “curfew violation” and let go, after three deeply uncomfortable hours in the custody of the LAPD. I thought having my constitutional rights revoked would be so casual. So silly. I definitely thought there would be more blood. Angelinos took to the streets for a fourth day to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 2, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA

Independent photojournalist arrested for curfew violation in Los Angeles

June 2, 2020

Independent photojournalist Aaron Guy Leroux was arrested while covering protests in Los Angeles, California, on June 2, 2020.

Protests that began in Minnesota on May 26 have spread across the country, sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest the day before. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Leroux told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was walking west on Sunset Boulevard with a colleague approximately 40 minutes after the L.A. County’s 6 p.m. curfew — which explicitly exempted credentialed members of the media — went into effect. He said that two Los Angeles Police Department officers had already checked his press pass and allowed him to continue reporting.

As they rounded the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street, where LAPD officers were arresting demonstrators, an officer asked if they were press, and they said they were.

“As we were exiting the scene, one last LAPD officer asked again, ‘You press?’’’ Leroux said. “I said, ‘Yes sir.’ He took a look at my credentials then grabbed my elbow and said casually, ‘You’re gettin’ arrested.’”

“I spent the next three hours getting arrested, searched, transferred, processed, and cited for ‘curfew violation,’” Leroux told the Tracker.

Leroux noted that his camera bag was thoroughly searched by the officers, but he does not believe any of his photos were deleted. His colleague — whose identity could not be verified as of press time — was also arrested.

At around 9:45 p.m Leroux was released from police custody with a citation for curfew violation, a photograph of which he shared with the Tracker.

The LAPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On June 8, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced that she will not prosecute citations for violating curfew or failing to disperse, while Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said he would resolve cases involving peaceful protesters in a “restorative approach” outside of the court system.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred total incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas, or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country related to the death of George Floyd while in police custody. Find all of these cases here.

(Left) Cone: Fairfax, Los Angeles — Tear gas burns in the streets of America once again Angelinos took to the streets to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. May 30, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA / (Right) Sealed In: Hollywood — At the intersection of Sunset & Vine, LAPD officers attempt to drive back a small group of protestors. Eventually, the LAPD was successful in dispersing the crowd. Unfortunately, by that time the crowd had been sealed in as Motorcycle police and other units blocked side streets and made sweeping arrests. Angelinos took to the streets for a third day to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. June 1, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Young Man: Hollywood — A young man marches with friends, down Hollywood Blvd. Angelinos participate in another day of demonstrations against continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 7, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Civil Disobedience: Downtown, Los Angeles — Citizens participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the fifth day of demonstrations against continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 3, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
City Attorney: Los Angeles — Over one month after this reporter’s unlawful arrest for a “curfew violation” the LA City Attorney, Mike Feuer, sent a letter which stated that no charges would be filed against me. Or more accurately, no charges would be filed against Mr. “Ueroux”. Photo-by-Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA

In regards to my arrest, while I was happy to have no charges filed against me, the net result appears to have created a method by which the LAPD or LASD can now, legally, remove any journalist from the field by arresting them, releasing them, and then the office of the City Attorney can exercise their prosecutorial discretion and decline to file charges. On June 2, 2020, the day of my arrest, though a city-wide curfew had been activated, credentialed journalists were exempted from this curfew, yet this exemption was willfully ignored. By arresting credentialed journalists covering the protests, and then releasing them, the law enforcement agencies working in LA county have created a method of skirting press freedoms. These actions by Los Angeles law enforcement agencies and the LA City Attorney set an ominous president for the future. It is now possible for Law Enforcement to legally hide newsworthy stories or incidents from the media and by extension from the scrutiny of the public.

(Left )Cory Palka: Hollywood — LAPD Commander Cory Palka gives an impassioned speech to a group of BLM protestors. Angelinos took to the streets for a third day to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. June 1, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA / (Right) Tear Gas: Fairfax, Los Angeles — Tear gas burns in the streets of America once again. Angelinos took to the streets to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. May 30, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA

Downtown, Los Angeles: Ronald Joseph Barber, 71. Retired Master Sergeant 101st Airborne; Vietnam from 67'-69'. Ronald lost his right eye, his right knee, and the right testicle in the war. When he told me he was in Vietnam in 1968, I asked him how he thought our current situation compared to 1968. “It’s worse,” he said without even thinking about it. “It like we were fighting for nothing over there.” Citizens participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the fifth day of demonstrations against continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 3, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA

Defund the Police: Downtown, Los Angeles — A theme that has emerged from the LA protests, is the idea of defunding the LAPD. This would entail cutting LAPD funding and redistributing those funds to other, often underfunded, city services. Such as housing, education, and mental health services. Citizens participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the fifth day of demonstrations against continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 3, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Pushing and Shoving: Hollywood — At the intersection of Sunset & Vine, LAPD officers attempt to drive back a small group of protestors. Angelinos took to the streets for a third day to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. June 1, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Who’s the Enemy?: Downtown, Los Angeles — Citizens participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the fifth day of demonstrations against continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police. June 3, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA
Take A Knee: Hollywood — Protestors attending a peaceful Black Lives Matter event on Sunset Blvd are instructed to take a knee and raise their fists. Angelinos took to the streets for a third day to protest continued police violence and murder in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota Police on May 25th. June 1, 2020-Los Angeles-Photo by Aaron Guy Leroux/ Sipa USA

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Aaron Guy Leroux
Extra Newsfeed

Photojournalist & Documentary Photographer / Member NPPA & NHJA / University of the Arts London alumnus www.aaronguyleroux.com