Thursday, May 3, 2007

Story of the Day-LAPD

Los Angeles Police Department
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The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is the police department of the City of Los Angeles, California. With over 9,500 officers and 3,000 civilian staff, covering an area of 473 square miles with a population of more than 3.5 million people, it is the third largest law enforcement agency in the United States (trailing behind the New York Police Department and Chicago Police Department). The agency is famous world wide and has been heavily fictionalized in numerous movies and television shows. It has also been involved in a number of controversies, perhaps most notably the infamous Rodney King incident and the subsequent 1992 Los Angeles riots.

LAPD swarm and beat/kick an unarmed protestor.
Perhaps one of the most frightening things I've ever seen, the police storm the protestors again for the second time. Watch closely; you'll see one Hispanic male start to run, and then you'll see the LAPD pick one guy and begin to hail him with clubs and kicks. He falls to the ground, assumes the fetal position, and continues to get beat/kicked for another 10-15 seconds. Watch the LAPD and the sheriffs throw people out of the way who try to come to this guy's aid. He was bleeding quite a bit from his head, but I couldn't get close enough to film that. One of the sheriff's had a billy club pointed at me.

The worst part of this video is when the group who are helping the wounded man out of the way. Watch closely and you can see an LAPD officer run in and hit an innocent good samaritan with his/her club. Disgusting.

Unprovoked attacks by Los Angeles police. From the counter-protest called by to protest a Minutemen march in Hollywood on July 8, 2006.

Chilling LAPD Video

LAPD: South Los Angeles

LAPD Attacks Protesters, Reporters, Cameras

May 1st, 2007 was not a Day Without Immigrants. No longer facing draconian legislation in the form of 2006's H.R. 5537, which would have called for the forced deportation of 12 million undocumented immigrants, immigrants' rights groups called off boycotts as the new, smaller rallies took on a less dramatic tone. Draft immigration reform legislation, currently under consideration by the Democratic Congress, seems to be written with both immigrants and the rule of law in mind. The situation for immigrants is not perfect, but things are much brighter than they were last year.

But in any protest, there are going to be a few people who don't behave themselves. Such was the case in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park, as a few troublemakers threw plastic bottles, wood planks, and other debris at LAPD vehicles. A small group of LAPD officers apparently figured out a simple solution to this problem: Beat up those people. Then fire rubber bullets and tear gas indiscriminately into crowds of peaceful protesters standing nearby. Then beat up any reporters who might be filming the incident. Then start destroying the cameras.

The end result: Almost 15 years to the day after the Rodney King riots, a video surfaces of LAPD officers chasing down protesters and striking them with batons as they try to flee, then trying to destroy videotaped evidence of the abuse. Ten people, including at least five journalists, were hospitalized. The Los Angeles Times reports:
About 6:45 p.m., police ordered the last people out of MacArthur Park, mostly news personnel and some marchers filming the police actions, declaring an "unlawful assembly" ...

Late Tuesday, a spokesman for Telemundo confirmed that one reporter and three camera operators from Channel 52, the Spanish-language TV station, had been injured and had been taken to a hospital by police.

Another TV station, Fox 11, showed video of a Fox camerawoman apparently being struck by a baton-wielding police officer.
Noting that "the vast, vast majority of [protesters] who were here were behaving appropriately," LAPD Chief William Bratton has called for a full investigation. "[Q]uite frankly," he said after reviewing video of the incident, "I was disturbed at what I saw."

15 years after the Rodney King riots
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LAPD Police Flee Angry Mob

the 15th anniversary of the start of the riots that began in L.A. after LAPD officers were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King. It also reminds us that rarely have two videos so influenced an event.
The first was captured by George Holliday, who shot the footage from the balcony of his Lake View Terrace apartment and then sold the video to TV station KTLA. A portion of the tape was broadcast quickly across the globe, sparking immediate outrage.

When officers were later acquitted in the beating, the rioting soon began. Truck driver Reginald Denny, unaware of the rioting, was driving a load of sand through the intersection of Florence and Normandie -- ground zero for the riots -- and was pulled from his truck by rioters. In the sky above was Bob Tur, piloting a Los Angeles News Service helicopter. (Tur would also be the first in-air reporter to locate and broadcast

O.J. Simpson fleeing in the slow-speed white Bronco chase.) Tur captured footage of several men beating Denny with a claw hammer and concrete slab (fracturing his skull in 91 places), and Damian Monroe Williams doing a victory dance over Denny's unconscious form (Williams, by the way, was only in prison until 1997 in the Denny attack, but murdered a man in 2000 and is now serving a life sentence). The live broadcast also showed a man spitting on the unconscious Denny, and others throwing beer bottles at him. Another stopped to steal his wallet; another tried to shoot the gas tank on Denny's truck. But that horrific live video would also save Denny's life: local resident Bobby Green saw the attack on TV, slipped out of his house, found other helpers to lift Denny back into the truck, drove the truck to the hospital, and then returned the truck to the company.

So you had two pieces of video -- one citizen, another professional journalism -- that shaped this day. The Rodney King video was the catalyst for a community to bring their outrage, much of it justified, to the forefront. The Denny beating video erased any sympathy viewers might have had for the rioters, and also told the world that things in L.A. had spun completely out of control.

Much has happened in the 15 years since the riots. South Central is now called South Los Angeles by city mandate, areas have been rebuilt and developed thanks to investors such as Magic Johnson yet poverty and joblessness still persist, black neighborhoods that were the flashpoint of rioting are now majority Hispanic as African-Americans have migrated out to the suburbs. Another key development? More citizens have video and digital photography ability than ever before, like in the form of cameraphones, and are keeping their eyes peeled for their chance to capture history.

LA Riots

Four days that shook the world
CNN last week carried a fairly extensive remembrance of one of the most important moments of the past two decades — the March 3, 1991, videotaped beating of Altadena's Rodney King at the hands of four LAPD officers and the failed prosecution of those men, which the following spring led to the worst urban rioting in American history.

There was some scattered coverage by some other news outlets of those monumental events, which unfolded into four days of unparalleled rage and destruction, much of it occurring in underprivileged neighborhoods of color in Los Angeles that could not very well stand much more physical or psychological abuse.

But burn this city did, baby, in many areas right to the ground, with more than 3,000 separate fires set and more than 1,000 buildings destroyed.

The question is: How did everyone else — including us — lose track of time and not extend at least some coverage to the anniversary of this seminal event?

The final cost of this “uprising,” this “mini-Civil War,” totaled between 50 and 60 dead, some 2,000 injured and up to $1 billion in property damage. There were 10,000 arrests, with prosecutions for riot-related crimes extending well into the next few years.

What many probably don't recall very well were all the “copycat” riots that broke out the day the verdicts were announced — April 29, 1992 — in other cities: San Francisco, Las Vegas, Seattle, Fresno, New York, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Tampa and Dallas.

In her only interview with the press days after the beating, Odessa King, Rodney's mom and a devout Jehovah's Witness, told this writer she feared that any opinions expressed to the press would only fan the flames of potential violence, and she stopped talking to reporters after that. A year before the world turned upside down, Odessa clearly saw it all coming down the road.

Here in Pasadena, merchants in the major shopping districts also felt an ill wind blowing, albeit only days beforehand, and braced for the worst, boarding up windows along Colorado Boulevard and installing chain-link fencing around their businesses on the day that the verdicts were to be rendered by a jury in Simi Valley deciding the fate of the four officers.

What started out as people partying on North Los Robles Avenue a few nights later turned ugly, with police officers eventually cordoning off the street. One man, Howard Martin, died in the violent confrontation. Martin was entirely innocent and had nothing to do with the melee, and he and others tried to hide in an apartment near the shooting. But even an apartment wall could not stop a ricocheting bullet fired from the gun of one of the officers, which hit Martin in the head.

Today, 15 years later — after one war-mongering Bush regime, the placating cruelty of Bill Clinton and his faux-liberal positions on the death penalty, law and order and welfare reform, and now another uncaring Bush junta with an eye on everyone's business and an even bloodier war on its hands — all of these events went largely unnoticed by most of the major media, except for CNN and the LA Times.

The Times, to its credit, ran a fairly extensive collection of pieces last week, culminating in coverage of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's visit Sunday to First AME Church in South LA, the epicenter of some of the good things that came out of those troubled days.

Other papers, though, including ours and most other daily and weekly papers, with the exception of our sister paper the VC Reporter of Ventura, offered little coverage last week of this important anniversary.

To this we can only apologize to our readers and offer a sentiment similar to one frequently expressed in 1992 by those who lived through similar events in 1965, when the so-called Watts riots — spawned by the same types of police brutality and lack of opportunity, investment and education — rocked the country: Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it, a fact that Odessa King seemed to know all too well.

Watts Riots
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The riot began on August 11, 1965, in Watts, when Lee Minikus, a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer, pulled over Marquette Frye, who Minikus believed was intoxicated because of his observed erratic driving. However, in this part of town especially, traffic stops were not so routine. While police questioned Frye and his brother Ronald Frye, a group of people began to gather. The mob began to throw rocks and other objects and shout at the police officers. A struggle ensued shortly after Frye's mother Rena arrived on the scene, resulting in the arrest of all three family members.
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Shortly after the police left, tensions boiled over and the rioting began. Over six days, US$35,000,000 in destruction of property occurred. The neighborhood was 99% black. The only other non-blacks in the neighborhood were a few people of Hispanic origin, and several Jewish store owners. The community believed racially motivated police brutality was rampant.[citation needed] Only 5 of the 205 police officers assigned to this neighborhood were African American. Police were accused of the rape of black women, use of racial epithets, and use of excessive force in arrests.[citation needed] In the Watts area, only one out of eight adults had a high school education, and poverty and unemployment were higher in this section of Los Angeles than any other neighborhood.
Watts Riots News Reel

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As a result of the riots, 34 people were officially reported killed (28 of those were African American), 1,032 people were injured, and 4,000 people were arrested. Among the dead were a fireman, a LA County deputy sheriff and a Long Beach police officer. The injured included 90 Los Angeles police officers, 136 firemen, 10 national guardsmen, 23 persons from other governmental agencies and 773 civilians. 118 of those injured were injured by firearms[1].
600 buildings were damaged or destroyed, and an estimated $35 million in damage was caused. Most of the physical damage was confined to businesses that had caused resentment in the neighborhood due to the perception of unfairness. Homes were not attacked, although some caught fire due to proximity to other fires
Some LAPD efforts unconstitutional
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LAPD goes to war
Clashes with protesters, press raise serious questions
MAYBE the protesters started it.

Maybe Los Angeles police officers were just responding to rocks thrown Tuesday night when they turned their batons and rubber bullets on people hanging around after the otherwise peaceful immigration reform rally at MacArthur Park on Tuesday evening.

Maybe the reporters who were hit and shoved, and the television camera crews, were getting in the way of cops trying to restore law and order.

It doesn't really matter. The reality is that the LAPD is the force charged with protecting and maintaining the peace of the city. And on Tuesday, it failed to do that.

The images of what took place don't look good. They suggest that the old LAPD was on duty at the rally, not the modern force we hope we have, one that responds appropriately instead of overreacting with violence.

The outcry from the media and protesters was predictable, and the calls for a full investigation from the mayor and City Council are appropriate.

And Chief William Bratton has done the right thing by immediately ordering an investigation into what happened, and promising to deal with any officers who acted inappropriately.

Now there must be follow-up with a full and transparent investigation, with the full involvement of the community.
The consensus of both the police and protest organizers is that the scuffles were instigated by a small group of agitators who were not part of the larger demonstrations. The "vast majority" of protesters were acting appropriately, Bratton said.

That's what is so disturbing. If the incidents were isolated and involved known troublemakers, why did the cops come down so hard on working journalists just doing their jobs?

Several were hit, pushed, thrown to the ground, even kicked - videos show that all too clearly. The idea that any officer would imagine that it's acceptable to suppress the gathering of news ought to concern us all.

The LAPD has done a lot in recent years to repair its relationship with communities that have felt victimized by the police. The ranks are more diverse. Community policing is a priority.

This incident doesn't have to set back that relationship. Whether it does will depend on how city leaders follow through with the investigation, and whether they hold people accountable.

For too long, L.A. has not properly disciplined unacceptable behavior among public safety personnel, leading to a destructive us- versus-them attitude. This tradition has cost taxpayers millions in settlements and cost the good men and women of the LAPD the respect they deserve.

This incident requires more than a cursory look at what happened. We need to know why some officers were in a frame of mind to use force which, from the visual evidence, wasn't needed at all.
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LAPD to probe cops who dispersed rally
LOS ANGELES – In the aftermath of a violent skirmish that marred an otherwise peaceful day of pro-immigrant rallies, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton yesterday called the actions of some officers “disturbing” and pledged a full investigation.

Advertisement“There is going to be some very serious questions asked of officers,” Bratton told a packed City Hall news conference.
Violence broke out Tuesday evening when a breakaway group of protesters on the fringes of a demonstration near downtown threw bottles and rocks at police. Officers in riot gear responded by shutting down the rally of several thousand people, in the process charging and firing rubber bullets at crowds teeming with children.

Bratton said he was troubled by the lack of adequate notice given to demonstrators to leave the area and by the amount of force used relative to the size of the disturbance. He said there were nine arrests Tuesday and that all preceded the final spurt of violence.

“Two hundred and forty rounds (of rubber bullets) with no arrests as part of that action is of great concern to me,” Bratton said.

Crowds at the rally in a large city park reacted with shock as hundreds of officers descended in response to a disruption of which most of the marchers were unaware. “They were just shooting at will,” said Sean Duenser, a demonstrator hit by rubber bullets on his arm and stomach.

As officers cleared the park, they struck and shoved several news reporters and photographers, sending three to the hospital and prompting statements of concern from chapters of the Radio and Television News Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, D-Los Angeles, asked Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley to launch an independent investigation in addition to the LAPD's own internal probes.

“I am angry and concerned that rather than containing a few bad actors not related to yesterday's march and rally, the situation was apparently allowed to snowball into acts of unjustified force against those who were simply participating in, or reporting on, the rally,” Nuñez wrote in a letter to Cooley.

The most forceful defense of the police – seven of whom suffered minor injuries from projectiles – came from Bob Baker, president of the Los Angeles Police Protection League, the union representing rank-and-file officers.

“Our officers gave a legal dispersal order and were met with violence,” he said.

Video appears to show LAPD officer hitting suspect
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A Los Angeles Police Department officer pursuing the driver of a stolen car Wednesday was seen on videotape appearing to beat the suspect after he apparently had surrendered.

Mayor James Hahn said the videotape jeopardizes reforms made in the wake of similar incidents and will test the "bond of trust" with the community.

Video shot from news helicopters shows the suspect running for a short distance before slowing to a stop, apparently opting to surrender to officers pursuing him on foot.

The suspect appeared to raise both arms and drop to his knees. The first arriving officer drew his weapon, but put it back in his holster and then tackled the suspect, forcing him to the ground.

The second officer also jumps on the suspect, who is on the ground in a prone position, while a third officer arrives and appears to kick him in the head. This same officer then drops to the ground, takes out his flashlight and can be seen swinging down at the suspect's head area 11 times. He also appears to use his knee to strike the suspect.

The video shows other LAPD officers arriving on foot and surrounding the suspect, who remains motionless on the ground.

Officers began chasing the stolen car shortly after 5 a.m. (8 a.m. ET).

The pursuit ended in the city of Compton, when the driver jumped out of the vehicle and fled.

Officers to be quizzed

Deputy police chief Earl Paysinger said the 37-year-old African-American suspect received medical treatment.

Paysinger said the man had some slight abrasions and had complained of an injury to his nose, but was otherwise "fine."

The suspect had not filed a formal complaint, he said, but nine officers are being interviewed about the incident.

"We will go through this with a fine-toothed comb, asking the questions the community wants to know," Los Angeles Inspector General Andre Birotte promised.

David Cunningham, the civilian head of the city's police department, added: "Assuming there is a finding of excessive force, there will be zero tolerance."

The footage is reminiscent of the 1991 beating of Rodney King by four LAPD officers.

"Unless some heads roll, we will return to some dark, bad, old days of the LAPD," Los Angeles Urban League President John Mack said.

Community activist Najee Ali held a news conference in front of LAPD's Parker Center shortly after the broadcast of the incident to express his outrage at the beating and demand an independent investigation.

He called on the Justice Department and the attorney general's office to get involved.

"We want this officer criminally prosecuted," Ali said. "We saw an unarmed man be beaten on camera who seemed to be cooperating and not resisting arrest so we're outraged and shocked ... It's very unfortunate that after the Rodney King beating we still have rogue officers within the LAPD."

Ali said that the LAPD contacted him first to tell him about the incident and to say the police were "on top of this."

But he also told CNN the LAPD had asked him to cancel his news conference, and when he refused, the department asked if he could "soften it up."

At the news conference, Ali called the incident a litmus test for LAPD Chief William Bratton.

"We're sending a message out to Chief Bratton that we've gotten rid of [former chief] Daryl Gates because he did not take the Rodney King beating -- police abuse -- serious and if he [Bratton] doesn't take this serious, we'll get rid of you," Ali said.

The four officers who were seen beating King on the infamous video were acquitted of all charges in 1992, leading to days of rioting in Los Angeles that left 55 people dead.

Two of the officers were later convicted in a federal trial of violating King's civil rights.

Last week, the LAPD announced it had fully implemented reforms it was required to put into practice by a federal consent decree in 2001, after the Justice Department found numerous instances of civil rights violations in the agency.

LAPD Officer Charged with Making False Arrests

LOS ANGELES – A 16-year veteran LAPD officer stationed in the Rampart Division was arrested today and charged with filing a false police report and making false arrests, the District Attorney’s office announced.

Edward Beltran Zamora, 44 (dob 5-5-62), was released on $20,000 bail after he turned himself in at Parker Center, said Deputy District Attorney Shannon Presby with the Justice System Integrity Division. He is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 8 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Division 30.

Following tips, the Los Angeles Police Department conducted an undercover audit of Zamora. During the probe, Zamora allegedly arrested undercover officers on two separate occasions on suspicion of drug possession, even though no drugs were found on either officer. During one arrest, Zamora allegedly falsely claimed in a report he found a baggie of cocaine directly by the suspect when he allegedly found the baggie more than 15 feet away and no drugs were found on the undercover officer, officials said.

Zamora is charged in case No. BA307311 with one felony count of filing a false report, and two misdemeanor counts each of false arrest and false imprisonment. If convicted, Zamora is facing more than three years in state prison.

Three LAPD officers convicted in corruption scandal

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Motorcyclist leads LAPD on a chase



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