The just-released report by the LAPD on their actions during the protest following the George Floyd murder is a sham, a cover-up for their historical harassment, violence and arrests. It has been ongoing for decades. This follows on the refusal of the grand jury to indict officers in the Andres Guardado killing, allowing them to refuse to testify, with the blessing of Sheriff Villanueva.
More than 4000 people were arrested and hundreds injured and their rights violated during the summer protests. Multiple interviews in the media reflect individuals who were badly wounded after being shot with 40 mm hard foam/rubber projectiles at close range without them representing any threat to officers. One was shot in the head while standing with his arms in the air after backing away from advancing officers.
When the arrestees were finally released, they were dropped off far from where they were arrested in late hours past the city curfew.
The team that prepared the report, at the request of the LA City Council, was composed of former police department commanders and led by Gerald Chaleff, a former member of LAPD command staff and a former president of the LA police commission.
If Malcolm X were alive today, he would say that this was another example of “Having the fox guard the chicken coop.”
Since when is an allegedly independent report prepared by veteran police officers? If Malcolm X were alive today, he would say that this was another example of “Having the fox guard the chicken coop.”
The report acknowledges “mistakes that appeared to repeat problems that surfaced in past protests; citing Democratic National Committee convention in 2000, MacArthur Park 2007 attack on immigrants’ rights protesters, the Occupy LA 2011 encampment, protests sparked by the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (2014), and one could add several other demonstrations. The report acknowledges that the city paid out over $3 million in lawsuit settlements for false arrest problems.
In an attempt to defend itself, LAPD released this statement saying that “after the events of the summer, intensive crowd management and crowd control training was provided to nearly 4200 personnel, including interaction instructions with the media.” But this is exactly what they said after the Rampart’s exposures and after every single assault by police on peaceful demonstrators over decades in Los Angeles.
The report adds that LAPD used a great deal “of munitions during the protests, more than 9700 rounds of “less lethal” munitions and more than 3,500 40 mm rounds.
They further acknowledge that people were indeed illegally detained for “exceedingly long periods of time.” This further includes failure to release protesters for curfew violations, a misdemeanor that does allow for rest, and “failure to provide access to bathroom facilities and water.”
The report further says that interviewees were surprised at the violence that occurred in the afternoon and evening hours at some protests and that they lacked intelligence. By that they mean they did not get accurate information from the teams of undercover cops, whom they call “shadow teams” whom they admitted previously were involved in inciting violence and arson at the protests (the Minneapolis police admitted the same last spring).
The police complained that they were understaffed and poorly equipped, yet they apparently had enough beanbags, rubber bullets, tear gas, batons, shields and gas masks, to carry out sustained attacks on the media representatives covering the protest as well as the demonstrators.
It is unclear from the report if the police department is now asking for more varied weapons.
Furthermore, while the report affirms a duty of the police is to protect free speech and First Amendment rights the report says nothing of the violation of the protester’s civil liberties, nor the multiple physical assaults on members of the media even after identifying themselves. In fact, media representatives have said that they were consciously targeted.
In response to the report Mayor Garcetti said that he was “Looking forward to working with the police commission, the City Council, LAPD and community stakeholders in implementing improvements suggested in this report and the two reports coming shortly.”
Former LAPD officer and current City Councilmember, Joe Buscaino, quoted in the Times with a different approach, saying “We need to be thoughtful about how we process this information and how we implement changes.”
Carol Sobel, a well-known civil liberties attorney who is also representing people arrested during the protest and those abused by police officers said that the report “underscores the claims we made in our lawsuits. It’s really inexplicable that it happens over and over. We’ve gone through this show many times. When does it change?”
Melina Abdullah, cofounder of Black Lives Matter-LA, said the report “addressed some of the wrongs but did not critique the notion that LAPD should be putting down righteous protests in the first place.”
The National Lawyers Guild is spearheading a class action lawsuit against the city for its arrests and constitutional rights violations during the protests against cop killings. Also, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) national membership passed a resolution supporting police abolition following its #Law4thePeople Convention last fall, acknowledging that the institution of policing is incompatible with the NLG’s mission to use law in defense of human rights and ecosystems over property interests.
Same Lies in Rochester Killing of Daniel Prude
As the LA police report broke the media, so too Rochester, New York, mayor Lovely Warren and police chief Singletary were faulted for keeping critical details about the death of Daniel Prude while in police custody, hiding this for months and lying to the public about what they knew.
The mayor learned of Prude’s death while he was physically restrained on March 23, yet kept this secret until September. Just as in the LA police report, Warren said “We have acknowledged responsibility and recognize that changes are necessary.”
The body camera video made public by Prude’s family in September shows him handcuffed and naked with a spit hood over his head as an officer pushes his face against the ground, while another officer presses a need to his back. The officers held him down for two minutes until he stopped breathing.
Last month the grand jury refused to indict the officers involved. They claim that Prude’s use of drugs was the root cause of his death. The investigative report confirmed that the police commanders urged city officials to hold off on publicly releasing body camera videos.
Prude’s family has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the police department sought to cover up the facts behind prude (sound familiar LA ?)
Random Lengths News columnist