The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California today announced it will represent Asia Yu, the organizer of the 1999 B-Boy Summit.' Despite the fact that Ms. Yu and her organization, Eternal Two Creations, held the appropriate permits for the February 28 dance performance and exhibition held at Venice Beach, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is charging her with inciting a riot.' The ACLU contends that it was the actions of the LAPD, and not those of the B-Boy Summit organizers, which caused the confusion along Venice Beach and the Boardwalk.
The events of February 28, including the disproportionate tactics taken by the LAPD, were captured on videotape by a number of participants and clearly support the B-Boy Summit organizers contention that the crowd was law abiding and orderly.
"One look at these tapes and it is clear that the LAPD reacted with fear and force to what was obviously a minor problem," said John Duran, an ACLU cooperating attorney representing Ms. Yu.' "While hundreds of hip-hop fans enjoyed a legally permitted dance performance on the beach, the LAPD launched a tactical force to deal with a perceived threat that was, in fact, a figment of their imagination."
The events of that Sunday were in marked contrast to those of the 2-previous days of the Summit which was held on the UCLA campus.' More than 2000 people from across the US and around the globe attended the 5th annual B-Boy Summit.' Seminars on a wide range of topics from 'Women in Hip-Hop' to 'Y2K: Urban Survival' drew record attendance and no reports of violence or vandalism. "The hip-hop culture allows youth freedom to express themselves through dance, music and art and promotes a code of respect and understanding of all peoples and cultures," said Ms. Yu.' "What the LAPD did that day, was directly contrary to the non-violent values that hip-hop advocates."
"What happened on Venice Beach was a sweeping violation of free speech and basic civil liberties," said Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California.' "There is no justification for LAPD officers training their rifles on innocent people, gathered at a peacable assembly.' We are calling on the LAPD to meet with us to make sure nothing like this ever happens again."