Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, September 24, 2020


Page 1


LACBA Opposes Federal Agents at Demonstration Sites

Organization Continues to Lose Money, With Its Reserves Dwindling


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Los Angeles County Bar Association has gone on record in opposition to the deployment of federal agents, for the sake of protecting federal property, to sites where demonstrations are taking place.

LACBA adopted as its own a resolution of the American Bar Association. That action by the Board of Trustees took place at a meeting via Zoom on Aug. 26.

It was not made public by the group, and came to light yesterday when the Council of Sections, a watchdog group, disseminated minutes of the meeting.

Attached to the minutes was a financial statement showing that LACBA continues to backslide financially.

The ABA resolution followed deployment of dozens of U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit agents in Portland, Ore. in July during massive Black Lives Matter protests. The Mark Hatfield United States Courthouse there was under continuing attack.

Agents Sent Elsewhere

Federal agents were also sent to Seattle and elsewhere to protect federal property. However, local officials complained that their presence intensified tensions.

The resolution says:

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association calls upon the United States Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to desist from the use of force by federal agents to suppress lawful First Amendment activity;

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association opposes the targeted use of force against journalists, legal observers, and others seeking to document law enforcement conduct;

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association opposes the use of federal agents to arrest or detain individuals where such agents are not requested by the States or are not necessary to preserve demonstrable federal interests; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association denounces the deployment of unidentified federal officers or officers using unmarked vehicles to suppress lawful First Amendment activity and to remove individuals from city streets, and calls upon the United States Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to cease and publicly renounce such tactics, and to investigate the unlawful use of such tactics.

Reason for Resolution

An ABA report in support of the resolution—passed at the group’s annual convention, held Aug. 3-4—says:

“Recent reports indicate that federal agents within the United States Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are carrying out operations, most notably on the streets of Portland, with the objective of disrupting protests against racism and police brutality. Those reports give strong reason to believe that those federal agents are not carrying out the limited enforcement functions traditionally associated with the federal government, such as protecting federal property, but rather are unconstitutionally abridging peaceful protected conduct and are encroaching on local law enforcement authority.”

LACBA’s board endorsed the resolution, with three “no” votes and one abstention.

BHBA Resolution

The Beverly Hills Bar Association on Aug. 18 passed its own resolution. Unlike LACBA, it publicly disseminated the resolution and posted it on its website.

“1. The BHBA vigorously insists that all officials wherever situated assure the ability of protesters to peacefully protest as protected under the law and under the US Constitution, and where federal law enforcement is utilized, that they be identified as federal law enforcement officers and what agency unless acting in an undercover capacity;

“2. The BHBA vigorously insists that our local, state and federal officials act in coordination with one another to avoid the unlawful destruction of property, looting, bodily injury and other unlawful and violent behavior within the bounds of constitutionally permissible state actions, and recognizes that failure to take action itself can impair the ability of citizens to peacefully protest.”

A preface says:

“We have all witnessed protests and other actions taking place in cities across the US, including Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and elsewhere. There have also been challenges to the use and deployment of Federal Agents. Some voices have characterized these actions as a violation of the Constitution and attempts to interfere with peaceful protesters exercising their constitutional rights. Some have welcomed this intervention in order to protect life and property where local officials have been unwilling or unable to control violence, looting and bodily harm.”

A financial report attached to the minutes shows that LACBA last year suffered a revenue loss of $757,871, and this year’s anticipated loss is $649,594. The actual loss through July 31 is shown as $697,648, but this is offset by an allocation to that period of $91,160 of a 2017 cy pres award, reducing the figure to $606,488.

Its investment balance, as Sept. 17, is shown at $4,152,089. LACBA’s reserves were nearly $7 million in 2013.

LACBA had been losing about $1 million a year before a reform movement in 2016 won offices in the first contested election in 25 years. Strides were made in cutting expenses under the administrations of reform presidents Michael E. Meyer and Brian Kabateck.

Attorney R.F. Brot, who served as LACBA president from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, had pledged to “do whatever it takes” to bring LACBA into the black, but did not meet that objective, nor bring about a lessening of losses.

The Board of Trustees was scheduled to hold its monthly meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. yesterday.


Copyright 2020, Metropolitan News Company