On Monday night, the LAPD displayed incredibly poor judgment in their response to the illegal behavior of a handful of attendees at the concert in the protest zone. When a few people began throwing debris over the fence and two individuals climbed the fence, protest leaders acted swiftly to try stop that illegal behavior. When it continued, they voluntarily decided to close the event and ask people to go home. But before they could do so, the police intervened with a heavy hand, shutting off the event’s power and entering the protest zone on horses and in riot gear to disperse the crowd using batons and shooting rubber bullets and pepper spray.
Had the police cooperated with the rally organizers, the night could have ended calmly and smoothly. Instead, the police response on Monday created huge risks: when people see batons swinging, riot gear, and mounted police clearing an area, a tense situation becomes a volatile one.
Reports are streaming in to our offices detailing gross violations of individuals’ civil rights.
We already know that numerous individuals were hurt in last night’s actions by the police. We believe that Los Angeles is extremely fortunate in escaping the grave danger its police department created through its extreme use of force and its undifferentiated attacks on a crowd of people, most of whom were trying to leave the scene.
Our first priority now is to make sure that the protests this week proceed peaceably, and that the LAPD does not inflict any more injuries upon demonstrators, observers, or the media. What happened last night was nothing less than an orchestrated police riot. The ACLU has already obtained two court orders against the LAPD for violating free speech around the DNC. This is the LAPD’s third strike.