LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Representatives of Black Lives Matter-LA and the Los Angeles Community Action Network said today they want to end police officers’ use of rubber projectiles, batons and other less-lethal force, particularly against peaceful protesters.
During a call in front of the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters to end what the representatives said was excessive use of force by officers, LACAN executive director Pete White emptied a bag of used rubber bullet shells and casings along with other items he said were used against protesters during the so-called George Floyd Solidarity protests against police brutality.
On Tuesday, City Attorney Mike Feuer said he would make education classes on curfew and failure-to-disperse violations voluntary for people who were cited for such actions during the protests, although he encouraged protesters who were cited and those who were not to attend them.
White said if the classes has been mandatory, the city attorney would have had to explain “episode after episode of indiscriminate force being used, less-than-lethal rounds being fired at close range and hitting people in the head and upper torso. He would have to talk about how baton strikes were used, as if bones and flesh were built to withstand that kind of punishment.”
BLM-LA and LACAN filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court against the LAPD and Chief Michel Moore, alleging the recent mass detention of more than 2,600 peaceful protesters, held handcuffed on buses without access to bathroom facilities, water or food, was a violation of their rights under the U.S. and California constitutions.
“What we’re dealing with is a moment where this nation and this city are beginning to realize that there is no reforming of LAPD. LAPD has to be defunded,” said Melina Abdullah, the co-founder of BLM-LA. “We have to re-imagine public safety wholeheartedly. We have to be willing to step back and say, ‘Do we really want a system of policing that evolved from slave-catching?'”
The class-action complaint, filed in Los Angeles federal court, alleges excessive force and civil rights violations against the George Floyd Solidarity protesters.
The suit seeks damages, declaratory, and injunctive relief on behalf of a class of thousands of protesters who allegedly sustained injuries by police and allegedly were subject to excessive detention without access to bathrooms or medical care.
An LAPD spokesperson said the department has a policy of declining comment on pending litigation.
According to BLM-LA, while protesters were peacefully engaged in lawful First Amendment protests, “the LAPD used force to terminate the protests, including the indiscriminate use of ‘less lethal’ weapons that caused injury.”
The suit, also filed on behalf of two LACAN members, alleges the LAPD’s use of “kettling,” a crowd-control tactic in which protesters were kept “tightly handcuffed on buses for hours” — without access to bathrooms, food or water — violated their civil rights.
The 23-page complaint contains the accounts of protesters detained in large groups during the week’s protests.
Protesters said they were transported to LAPD jails around the city. All were held on buses or off-loaded into garages and similar facilities, where they were held handcuffed behind their backs, protesters allege.
“All members of the arrest class were held in this manner for a minimum of several hours, with some held more than 12 hours in these excruciatingly painful conditions,” the lawsuit contends.
“The class members experienced numbness in their hands and requests to loosen the zip ties or remove them went unanswered. Without access to bathrooms, arrestees were compelled to urinate on themselves.”
The complaint contends that LAPD’s actions further “interfered with BLM-LA’s right to assembly and speech.” The plaintiffs seek a court order halting the “practices, policies, and customs” of the police responding to future gatherings.
The proposed class would include at least 10,000 persons who were allegedly “struck by so-called ‘rubber bullets’ and/or baton strikes administered without lawful justification,” contrary to proper use, to inflict maximum injury, BLM-LA contends.
Kath Rogers, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles, said that at least 700 protesters have signed up with her organization for legal defense after they were arrested and held “in terrible conditions.”
The plaintiffs also allege the demonstrations did not fall under the definition of an unlawful assembly — even as law enforcement declared the BLM-LA protests as such.
The LAPD and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti “applied a ham-handed approach, silencing everyone. Nearly 3,000 people were arrested as a result,” plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit.
Last Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in federal court against the city and county of Los Angeles on behalf of BLM-LA, protesters, journalists and others, describing the curfews imposed throughout Southern California as “draconian” and unconstitutional.
ACLU claims the curfews were a violation of the First Amendment because they suppressed all political protest in the evening hours, and restrictions against movement outside of working hours is a violation of the constitution’s protection of freedom of movement.