November 20, 2014
|For Immediate release||Contact:||Pete White, Los Angeles Community Action Network (213-434-1594)|
|Hamid Khan, Stop LAPDSpying Coalition (562-230-4578)|
Community Groups Demand More Than “Lip – Service” From LAPD as the Nation Prepares for Ferguson Indictment Decision – and Stands Against Full-Scale Militarization and the Criminalization of Dissent.
Many activists and community organizers react to LAPD’s statements related to the Ferguson indictment decision with a healthy dose of trepidation and skepticism. During the November 18, 2014 Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners meeting, Chief Charlie Beck reported that the LAPDhad conducted “outreach to community leaders” in advance of the Ferguson, Missouri indictment verdict. Commander Andrew Smith, LAPD Communications Department, also stated to the press that the LAPD would be prepared for protests and other related activities. LAPD and other police forces around the country, including Ferguson, seem to be preparing for violence and increased efforts tostop First Amendment activity, instead of responding to the real issue raised in Ferguson – reducing and eliminating police violence and suppression in our communities.
Militarization of police in our collective understanding came to light in full force with the murder of Michael Brown by law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri and their response to protests by community members demanding justice. Images of grenade launchers, assault rifles, stun grenades, tasers, rubber bullets, tear gas, rocket launchers along with long range acoustic devices, mine sweepers, tanks, helicopters, and several types of surveillance equipment in the hands of Ferguson police dispelled any faith, if we still had any, about “protect and serve,” and laid bare the real purpose of law enforcement in the United States operating more as a counter-insurgency force. This is, unfortunately, not an anomaly!
The LAPD is no stranger to violating the rights of those simply exercising 1st Amendment protected speech and activities, nor to extreme violence and murder. The well-documented “Mayday Melee” on May 1, 2007 is a clear example of such violations – when the dust settled scores of protestors and members of the media were pummeled and the City of Los Angeles had to payout $13 million and promised many reforms to LAPD’s practices. On May 21, 2010, in City Council chambers, LAPDCentral Division swarmed a crowded room of renters which included many seniors and children, beating and tasing renters that had waited more than five hours for a vote to reform the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance – again, thousands of dollars in payouts to protestors. On July 13, 2012LAPD deployed a massive and militarized effort to violate the rights of protestors simply writing chalk messages on the sidewalk during the downtown Los Angeles Artwalk, a monthly event for artists and revelers.
As with the other examples, use-of-force, the firing of projectiles, military grade crowd control weaponry and other tactics defined their response to constitutionally-protected activities.
As we approach the pivotal moment of whether even the slightest semblance of justice with the indictment of Darren Wilson will be served in Ferguson, Los Angeles residents continue to buckle under the weight of similar circumstances by our own LAPD. In August Omar Abrego was beaten to death in front of his own home. Ezell Ford, a young African American man living with mental illness, was shot in the back by LAPD within days of the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, Missouri. Are people angry? Yes. But people also demand that their constitutional rights be respected, protected and upheld and police officers be held truly accountable for murder.
Instead of baseless assertions that infer the LAPD is reformed and engaged with indigenous community leadership, we demand they (LAPD) publicly lay out their post-verdict response in detail which clearly outlines their operational plan including staffing specifically assigned to the response, identification of LAPD “hot zones,” and the list of crowd control equipment that will be deployed.