L.A. residents protest drones
acquired from Seattle PD
(LOS ANGELES, CA.) — The events in Ferguson, Missouri and the growing awareness by citizens of how militarized even small police forces in America have become is sending ripples of shock waves across the law enforcement landscape.
People in some communities are saying no more. They are saying we do not want our streets looking like the battle of Fallujah. We do not want tanks on streets, drones flying overhead and police forces acting as though they are occupying armies and citizens are the insurgents.
Case in point, the protesters that gathered outside LA’s city hall Thursday morning, chanting “drone-free LAPD” and demanding a halt to what they perceive as an LAPD plan to use drones to spy on citizens.
Demonstrators from a group called the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition crowded up against the entrance to City Hall entrance attempting to get a meeting with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.
What they wanted to discuss were two silent, camera-equipped drones the L.A. police department acquired not long ago from the Seattle Police department.
A report by KNBC-TV Los Angeles says the LAPD got the, “State-of-the-art Draganflyer X-6 drones for free from the Seattle Police Department in May.”
Civil rights activists on Thursday said Seattle residents’ protests over drone testing in their city got their mayor in Seattle involved to stop the drone use. They hope they can get Garcetti to do the same.
The report quotes LAPD spokesman Bruce Borihahn as saying a federal agency is storing the drones at the moment, the police force hasn’t even taken possession yet and he doesn’t know the drones’ capabilities.
Still, people are worried. They see what’s going on around the country and they have a bad feeling about where all this is headed, let alone what is already here and now.
Protester Jamie Garcia told the station, “What’s going to happen when they have a drone that you can’t ever hear is around, that can come into close radius? What are they going to do with this data? They haven’t told us.”
Citizens of the community are concerned that these drones are are so small, not detectable and much less expensive than the manned helicopters currently used by the LAPD, that those drone qualities can lead to overuse and abuse of the machines against ordinary citizens.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California applauded the department’s transparency about receiving the drones, but questioned whether its use outweighs the potential for invasion of privacy, accordng to the KNBC report here .