In the wake of protests following George Floyd’s death, Los Angeles has become a flashpoint for the country’s anger against racism and police brutality, leading to further police misconduct. The LAPD has violently beaten protestors, shot them with rubber bullets, and allegedly arrested over 2,600 peaceful protesters. But last Tuesday, whether or not the streets of Hollywood were briefly left alone by police brutality, the LA Police Commission was busy reeling from a heinous act of violence that took place in its own Zoom call.
To address the city’s policing and Chief Michel Moore’s now-retracted comment that looters were just as responsible for George Floyd’s death as the Minneapolis officers, the commission held a virtual community call inviting Angelenos to tune in with thoughts and questions. In a viral clip taken from the seven-hour Zoom call, a voice belonging to a man named Jeremy Frisch takes the allotted 30 seconds to fillet the police commission on the live stream.
He politely tests the mic: “Hello, can you hear me?” “Hi, yes.” Green light. Frisch erupts, shouting “Black lives matter, defund the police” before indicting the police department’s use of violent force against peaceful protestors. Then, turning to Moore without hesitation, he says, “You are a disgrace. Suck my dick and choke on it.” With three seconds left to spare as reward for his concision, he yells, “I yield my time!” A beat later: “Fuck you!”
Frisch and I meet at a protest a few days later. I get a text: “I’m by a blue motorcycle,” and I think, oh shit, of course he is. Because that’s badass. As it turns out, he is only standing next to one, and had ridden to the protest in his friend’s old Mercedes. He is unlike how I would imagine a man whose profanity-laden onslaught has become a rallying cry for the nation: neither seven-feet tall nor decked out in full riot gear drip. Instead, Frisch, age 21 and a recent graduate of California State University, Northridge, is smaller than I’d expected, fragilely equipped with only an N95, and like me, a little awkward. Despite being called a “Caucasian ally” on social media, he is half Asian and half Jewish. His black t-shirt is inside out, he says, so he won’t be identified in pictures. It’s his first protest ever.
“Something woke up in me,” he says, of George Floyd’s murder. “I looked at myself and said, ‘How can you just stand by and do nothing?’”
At the beginning of the June 2 Zoom call, the police commission originally gave each speaker two minutes of airtime, but gradually reduced the limit to 30 seconds. Hundreds of callers expressed their frustrations, including a teacher whose disabled student had been killed by an off-duty LAPD officer, and a woman who claimed firsthand that officers were purposely turning off body-worn cameras with hand signals. Another caller berated Moore and the police commission for laughing, looking away, and using their phones during the conference. The commission did not respond to a large majority of them. “They were cutting people off,” Frisch says.
During the six hours that passed before he was called on, Frisch rehearsed close to a hundred times with his mic muted. “I spoke to myself, and I timed myself, ‘cause I knew I had to make it count. I had to make every second count.” Everything except the “fuck you” was planned, and his notorious line, “I yield my time,” was the brainchild of a debate class where he learned about the term, and earlier callers who’d conceded their minutes the same way. “I was like, oh, yeah! I learned that from my debate class,” he says. The commission also declined to comment once Frisch finished. “But I could tell on their faces that they heard what I had to say. I saw Michel Moore’s body language. He heard what I had to say.”
After Jeremy’s call went viral, John Oliver featured his voice on Last Week Tonight, saying, “That is what a perfect call looks like.” The editor-in-chief of this website also deemed his work “pure poetry.” Yet Frisch has remained largely anonymous except for a recent Twitter post calling for action under the alias @firemichelmoore. The aversion to attention is intentional. “I’m a very modest dude,” he tells me. “I’m just a normal dude who’s pissed off like everybody else. I don’t wanna be this viral star—I’m not fucking J. Cole, let’s get that straight—I just wanted the message to be heard. And I want to make it crystal clear that this isn’t about me. I was just angry.” He also adds that the profanity was intentional. “I used it because we need to bring them down to our level. I understand why a lot of people used profanity because they were just trying to speak from the heart.”
Despite making his point within the allotted time, Jeremy wishes that more personal stories and policy proposals from the seven-hour call had gone viral. The People’s Budget, a community-led budget proposal for rearranging Los Angeles’s funding priorities, was at the top of his list. “Fifty-three point eight percent of funds were going towards the police,” he says of the city’s original plan for its unrestricted general fund revenue. “I didn’t get to say that.” On June 3, a day after the police commission’s call, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced plans to cut 100 to 150 million from the police department’s budget to reinvest in communities of color. Under the originally proposed funding plan, which allocated 1.85 billion dollars to the LAPD, this represents a roughly 8 percent cut from the police budget. Alternatively, the People’s Budget calls for 5.7 percent of funds to go towards law enforcement and policing. “I think a lot of people beyond Los Angeles can relate to our budget problems,” Frisch adds. “How come we provide the police with bullets and tear gas and face shields, but we can’t even provide our doctors with personal protective equipment?”
Even after turning Michel Moore into a household name on social media, Jeremy reminded me that encouraging Moore to asphyxiate while fellating him wasn’t the only point he made. During his half-minute, he also refused to refer to Moore as a chief or officer, believing that titles confer power. “We need to bring him down a peg. He’s a human, like you or me.” Last Saturday, Moore walked alongside protestors at a unity march organized by the local NAACP. “You’re not really gonna fool me, Michel Moore,” Frisch said. “He needs to hold himself accountable and resign. I think that’s the best thing he can do.”
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission will hold another Zoom meeting. It is unclear whether or not the call will be a public forum, but Frisch will not be in attendance. “If people expect me to call in, I’m not gonna do that. I made my point, and I want other people to get as mad. Or—just the fact of calling in—that’s a huge thing. The ability to call in and tell the police commission what’s on your mind is incredibly powerful.”
In the meantime, he has other plans. “I want to be educating myself, holding my friends, family, companies accountable. Donating, signing petitions, and I want to listen to black voices.” I asked him if he was still going out to protest. “I plan to get tested, and as soon as I get my results, go back in. I really wanna make sure nobody gets sick.”
Andrew Wang is an unemployed troglodyte who peaked when GQ called him a “hero of the modern times.” He is currently living at his mom’s house in Los Angeles until New York City calls him back.