Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department have been accused of violating the free speech rights of demonstrators who gathered outside Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti’s official residence on Sunday morning, as law enforcement and activists clashed.
The 13th consecutive day of protests at the mayor’s home was organized by Black Lives Matter leaders and allied groups who seek to dissuade Joe Biden from appointing Garcetti to a cabinet position, who was a co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign.
“The LAPD said officers converged on the assembly because a protester with a bullhorn had violated an L.A. municipal code against producing sounds that carried more than 200 feet,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Police said they have repeatedly warned the protesters about using “amplified sound.”
.@JoeBiden and @Transition46 please pay attention! This is how @MayorOfLA treats the people of LA. This happened right outside his window while he was sipping his morning coffee. #BlockGarcetti from everything and anything.
— I’m tired of this church… (@justrinidad) December 6, 2020
Video posted to social media shows at least one officer swinging a baton at multiple protesters and making what appears to be light contact. Jamie Penn, a transgender woman who serves on a local neighborhood council, was arrested on a charge of “lynching,” which the Times describes as “an outdated term for trying to remove someone from police custody that was officially dropped from the law.” Penn was released later in the day and asked supporters to return to Garcetti’s home Monday morning.
“After multiple warnings, four officers attempted to make an arrest for the above violation when the crowd moved in on the officers, punching, pushing and kicking,” Capt. Stacy Spell, an LAPD spokesperson, said in a statement. “Officers used their baton to prevent the crowd from forcefully attempting to remove the suspect from police custody. However, the suspect ultimately got away.”
LAPD declared an unlawful assembly. According to Capt. Spell, one officer sustained a possible concussion during the melee that ensued.
The L.A. Times reported that activists posted the phone numbers for three elected Democrats on social media and asked the politicians to “denounce” LAPD’s response. They included Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) and state Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), who complied with the request.
“LAPD’s brutal actions this morning are unacceptable and must be denounced by everyone,” Santiago tweeted. “I stand w/ you in denouncing police brutality demanding the immediate release of Jamie!”
LAPD’s brutal actions this morning are unacceptable and must be denounced by everyone. I stand w/ you in denouncing police brutality demanding the immediate release of Jamie! #FREEJAMIE https://t.co/JUOXRkrdfc
— Miguel Santiago (@SantiagoAD53) December 6, 2020
“Peaceful protesters deserve the space and protections to make their voices heard. Anything short of that is NOT acceptable,” Gomez posted. “No exceptions. No excuses.”
In regards to @lapd response at Getty House today:
Peaceful protestors deserve the space and protections to make their voices heard. Anything short of that is NOT acceptable.
No exceptions. No excuses.
— Rep. Jimmy Gomez (@RepJimmyGomez) December 6, 2020
Nithya Raman, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America who was elected to L.A. City Council last month, also condemned the actions of law enforcement.
“There is no acceptable justification for LAPD to use force against Angelenos who are peacefully exercising their right to free speech,” she tweeted.
Today, protesters outside the Mayor’s residence were struck with batons. An elected member of the Wilshire Center-Ktown NC was arrested.
There is no acceptable justification for LAPD to use force against Angelenos who are peacefully exercising their right to free speech. https://t.co/5ZOjwih8QD
— Nithya Raman (@nithyavraman) December 7, 2020
Black Lives Matter leaders launched a series of demonstrations outside Garcetti’s home on Nov. 24. They have voiced concerns over suggestions that he could be named to oversee either the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Transportation Department. Speakers have said Garcetti’s policies have been harmful to black people, criticized L.A.’s transit system, and note that homelessness has surged since he was first elected mayor more than seven years ago.
“We want to be very clear that as we happily usher out the Trump regime, we will not accept liberal white supremacy in the White House in the form of Joe Biden,” said Dr. Melina Abdullah, lead organizer of BLM’s L.A. chapter, on Nov. 24. “It doesn’t matter to me if Kamala Harris is your vice president if you’re using her black woman body to usher in oppressive systems and oppressive people like Eric Garcetti.”
Author: Jeffrey Cawood