A judge has granted a restraining order against a Black Lives Matter activist who took his racially charged rhetoric to the law office and home of Los Angeles Police Commission President Matt Johnson.
The intrusion of the activist, Trevor Ferguson, into the commissioner’s private life marked an escalation of a conflict that had previously been confined to public meetings.
Ferguson is part of a group that regularly disrupts the Police Commission’s weekly meetings by chanting and speaking out of turn to express outrage at Los Angeles Police Department shootings of black and Latino people.
Johnson, one of two African American police commissioners, is sometimes singled out by Ferguson and others, who call him a “houseboy” — a derogatory term for a black person who is subservient to whites — amid demands that LAPD Chief Charlie Beck resign and the entire department be disbanded.
The application for the restraining order, filed on Johnson’s behalf by the city of Los Angeles on Dec. 20, tested the boundary between free speech and harassment.
After hearing more than an hour of testimony Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carol Boas Goodson concluded that Ferguson’s intent was not only to protest but to “incite fear.” The restraining order requires Ferguson to stay away from Johnson and his family. Ferguson can continue to speak at Police Commission meetings but must keep a five-yard distance from Johnson.
In granting the restraining order, Goodson said that “any parent would be concerned,” because Ferguson mentioned Johnson’s son at a Police Commission meeting and subsequently visited Johnson’s home.
The comment at the meeting, which drew a connection between Johnson’s son and African American victims of police violence, was not a threat, the judge said. But combined with the office and home visits, Ferguson crossed a line.
Ferguson, 35, a rap artist and music producer who uses the name Trevor Gerard, is also African American.