Friday, September 7, 2001
Police Commission Approves Permit for Anti-Police Brutality Parade
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Police Commission yesterday unanimously approved a parade permit for the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, to take place one year after violent altercations between Los Angeles Police Department officers and protestors marred the last such event.
In its sixth year, the Los Angeles protest is just one of more than 70 similar demonstrations held across the country to protest alleged police brutality.
At last year’s Oct. 22 demonstration in Los Angeles, officers and protestors clashed, but there were few arrests. Both sides blamed the other, with protestors claiming they were attacked with batons and rubber bullets without provocation and police saying they reacted after being pelted with rocks.
Some protestors emerged from the altercation with minor cuts and bruises, but there were no major injuries.
The commission approved the permit which includes a rally in front of LAPD headquarters at Parker Center and using streets which circle Parker Center, the exact same parade route used as last year.
The permit, which was requested by the October 22nd Coalition, originally requested to use Judge John Aiso Street, which runs directly behind Parker Center, but Chief Bernard Parks recommended that part of the permit be denied.
Parks said that particular street is used by the department to stage a command post and that allowing protestors to use it as part of their parade route would be costly to the department because it would require more officers at the site.
“We would have to deploy even more people to protect the command post,” Parks said. “It’s going to be more costly.”
Commissioners agreed with Parks and approved the permit request with the exception of allowing protestors to use Judge John Aiso Street.
The vote allows protestors to march around Parker Center at different times during the rally and permits the use of two sound trucks, two float trucks and three bands.
Protestors will also be allowed to use bullhorns during the march.
Police Chief Bernard Parks said he supported approval of the permit, but added that the department would have to trust the protestors to abide by the conditions of the permit.
“We would have to take them at their word that they would not go down that street,” Parks said.
National Lawyers Guild Executive Director James Lafferty told the commissioners he would provide them with videotapes of the events of last year’s march which show police officers attacking protestors without being provoked.
Parks said the last police commission had viewed the tapes and did not take any disciplinary action against the department or the officers involved.
The Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is the local division of a 64-year-old human rights bar association.
Made up of lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jail-house lawyers, the Guild routinely provides legal observers at political demonstrations in the city of Los Angeles.
On Aug. 9, the ACLU filed suit against the LAPD for the incidents that occurred during last year’s National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, including claims by some of the Guild’s legal observers that they were repeatedly shot with rubber bullets by LAPD officers during last year’s Oct. 22 parade.
The suit, filed on behalf of four area activist groups, claims the LAPD violated constitutional rights through the use of rubber bullets, pepper spray and low-flying helicopters whose engines drowned out protestor’s speeches.
Filed in U.S. District Court, the lawsuit, which also alleges police brutality at last year’s Democratic National Convention, asks that the LAPD be required to change its crowd control policies. The suit also seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages.
ACLU Attorney Dan Tokaji said he is seeking a court order prior to this year’s Oct. 22 march to prevent the “excessive use of force by the LAPD” from occurring for a second year in a row.
“The LAPD has constantly been trying to chill people from exercising their First Amendment rights to protest,” Tokaji said. “The only thing the LAPD listens to is a court order.”
Tokaji said he is seeking a court order which would stop the LAPD from terminating the lawful assembly, using excessive force on the peaceful protesters, unlawfully detaining protestors after the conclusion of the demonstration, and from using helicopters to drown out the protestors’ speeches.
He said he expects to receive the court order before the Oct. 22 event.
“The only concern of violence we have this year is from the LAPD themselves,” Tokaji said. “We want to ensure that the LAPD doesn’t repeat the unlawful violence that occurred last year.”
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company