On Sunday afternoon, the LAPD yet again trampled on the free speech rights of peaceful protesters, legal observers, and journalists at a demonstration of over 1,000 people held at LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Ironically, the demonstration was against police brutality. Instead of dealing with the handful of individuals engaged in illegal behavior, the LAPD attacked indiscriminately. The police - who did not declare an unlawful assembly - intervened with a heavy hand and without warning, on horseback and in riot gear, dispersing the crowd by indiscriminately using batons and shooting rubber bullets. Two people who were wearing the brightly colored, clearly marked hats of official legal observers were standing on a public sidewalk when they were rammed by two officers on motorcycles.
Instead of cooperating with the rally organizers, the police responded with violence, turning a tense situation into a volatile one.
We already know that several people were hurt in yesterday's actions by the police and only hope that no one was seriously injured by the LAPD's extreme use of force and its undifferentiated attacks on a crowd of people, most of whom were trying to leave the scene.
Once again the LAPD's actions point out that the department is out of control, and underscores the critical need for truly independent, outside civilian oversight of the police department.