On Saturday, May 30, an initially peaceful Black Lives Matter rally at Pan Pacific Park moved out onto the nearby streets, where police later clashed violently with protestors, police vehicles were set on fire, and looters operated seemingly unchecked in nearby areas. (See one protestor’s account here.)
Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council passed a motion submitted by Council Members David Ryu and Curren Price “instructing the LAPD, the LAPD Inspector General, and the Department of Civil and Human Rights to conduct a thorough review of the tactics used by LAPD personnel during a demonstration on Saturday, May 30th in the Fairfax District.”
According to a statement released yesterday by Ryu’s office, “The motion also seeks recommendations for new crowd control and use-of-force tactics, as well as a review of less-than-lethal weapons like rubber bullets and tear gas and their modern-day equivalents, foam rounds and pepper balls.” Also, because “photos and videos surfaced in the coming days showing police officers striking protestors with batons, as well as looting and vandalism met with little or no police response,” the Council also specifically instructed the various departments “to investigate claims that the LAPD focused on protest gatherings instead of smaller groups committing acts of arson, looting and vandalism.”
“On May 30th, Angelenos who were exercising their first amendment rights were met with force from the LAPD,” Ryu said in the statement. “We also saw looting with seemingly no police response. I want to know why. We need a thorough review of the tactics the LAPD used, the reasoning behind it, and an investigation of all complaints filed against the department for use of force.”
Price continued, “We look forward to a comprehensive look into how decisions were made by law enforcement during what was supposed to be a peaceful protest on May 30, what triggered the escalation into what became a nightmare situation for both the police and protestors and how we plan to move forward as we seek new crowd control strategies and tactical solutions to better serve the City…The people of Los Angeles deserve complete transparency, accountability and respect when it comes to what occurs in our City and how they are to be treated while exercising a constitutional right to demonstrate, which should never lead to Angelenos having their rights violated.”
Here’s the full text of the motion, signed by both Council Members:
“The tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked one of the largest and most profound movements for social justice our country has seen. Like many other cities across our nation, Los Angeles has seen large displays of protest and unity. Early on, there were some reports of opportunistic acts of violence, vandalism and looting, however, the majority of these protests have been peaceful, powerful and served to bring our City together.
Peaceful and first-amendment protected demonstrations are continuing in Los Angeles, part of a national call for justice. Further, while more instances of restraint and professionalism were displayed by the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), there were a number of instances where excessive force appeared to be used against protesters.
Of particular interest is Saturday, May 30, 2020, though it is not the only example. What started out as a peaceful, multicultural and multigenerational family-oriented gathering at Pan Pacific Park turned into violence and chaos by day’s end.
I THEREFORE MOVE that the Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from LAPD and the Department of Civil and Human Rights (CHRD), be requested to report back with a thorough review and explanation of the tactics used by Los Angeles Police Department personnel on Saturday, May 30, 2020, particularly in the vicinity of the “Fairfax District”, including an explanation of the chain of events that led the decision to have LAPD officers engage with protesters.
I FURTHER MOVE that the Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from LAPD and the Department of Civil and Human Rights (CHRD), be requested to investigate complaints filed against LAPD for use of force in dispersing demonstrators, including the purposes and types of less-than-lethal tools used, use of force for crowds already dispersing, and claims of LAPD focusing on protest gatherings reducing response times for smaller groups committing acts of arson, looting, and vandalism.
I FURTHER MOVE that LAPD, CHRD, Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) and other relevant agencies be instructed to conduct a thorough review and evaluation of current departmental protocols for crowd control and the levels of force on peaceful protesters and report back with their findings and recommendations to address any issues found.”
When the resulting reports have been prepared and submitted, the Council will review them with an eye toward further action.