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Black Lives Matter Los Angeles activists sued the city over the LAPD’s response to a protest outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home in December 2020, alleging they were brutalized by baton-wielding officers in violation of their regulations. constitutional rights.

Activists said their protest, organized against Garcetti to get a job in President Biden’s administration, was entirely peaceful. Yet, they said, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department stormed into the crowd and started assaulting people – with no justification other than that an individual with a megaphone violated an order on the police. noise.

“There were children there at the time, there were old people there at the time, and [the police] overreacted, ”said Greg Akili, 73, a BLM LA executive and lead plaintiff in the case. “Too often we’ve seen the LAPD wanting to demonstrate their ability to control a situation, and when they do and black people are involved then they are doing too much, they are going too far and we are hurting ourselves.”

The lawsuit, which aims to obtain class action status to represent the protesters involved as a collective, alleges that around 50 people were “beaten with batons or run over by LAPD agents” when they did not represent no threat to officers or anyone in the area.

“Pushing and swinging batons, LAPD agents rushed at peaceful protesters gathered in front of the mayor’s mansion and knocked them down, then brutally beat them with batons, including blows to the head, causing serious injuries. “, Says the trial.

LAPD spokesperson Captain Stacy Spell said on Wednesday the department could not comment on the ongoing litigation.

At the time of the incident, however, Spell had defended the officers’ actions, claiming they only converged on the protesters after four officers attempted to stop the individual with the megaphone – for allegedly breaking a municipal code prohibiting the production of sounds that carry more than 200 feet – began to be hit, pushed and kicked by other protesters trying to prevent arrest.

“The officers used their batons to prevent the crowd from attempting to remove the suspect from custody,” Spell said. “However, the suspect eventually fled.”

Ministry policy states that officers can only baton people if they pose a physical threat.

The incident was condemned by some elected officials, who accused the officers of excessive force, and the department said it would review video of the incident. A video taken and uploaded by protesters and journalists showed officers swinging their batons at protesters and knocking them to the ground.

Garcetti’s office declined to comment on the dispute on Wednesday.

The Times previously reported that Garcetti’s wife Amy Wakeland had contacted police regularly that year about protesters making noise outside her house, which she said had been difficult for her daughter and the other children. neighborhood.

BLM LA executives had staged daily protests outside the home in December 2020 based on political gossip that Biden could offer Garcetti, one of his earliest backers, a political appointment, possibly even to his cabinet. Protesters opposed such a nomination, smashing Garcetti’s record for transportation, roaming and policing.

Protesters had walked past Garcetti’s home daily for more than a week before the incident, and subsequently returned, without any major issues – further evidence, in Akili’s mind, that the department’s decision police rush on the day of the crackdown was unwarranted.

“It has always been calm,” he said. “It might have been noisy, but it was still peaceful. “

Garcetti did not get a Cabinet post, but was offered the post of Ambassador to India. The appointment was confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, but has yet to go to the Senate.

The BLM trial challenges some of the same tactics that were used by the LAPD during the mass protests against the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department months before, when officers were also charged with excessive force and brutality against demonstrators.

BLM LA is still in dispute in a separate class action case regarding the LAPD’s treatment of protesters during these protests, which took place in May and June 2020 and involved tens of thousands of people taking to the streets.

The new trial alleges bodily harm by officers, and that the rights of protesters were violated as a result of threats, intimidation and unreasonable force. He is also asking the court to award damages to individual protesters, to cover their legal costs and to provide them and future protesters with relief against LAPD abuses in the future – including by issuing a court order prohibiting the city from “unlawfully and unconstitutionally protecting expressive activity, assemblies and demonstrations.”

Akili, who said he was pushed to the ground by officers, said such judicial restrictions were necessary as the LAPD continues to violate protesters’ 1st Amendment rights despite being publicly called out for it.

“That’s why there is Black Lives Matter, because they haven’t learned anything,” he said. “It is too often the model and the practice of LAPD, this idea of ​​control and suppression. And that’s how we end up getting hurt and killed.

The lawsuit alleges that Akili was “pushed from behind, landing on his hands, causing an injury to his right hand which took months to fully heal.”

In addition to the city, the lawsuit names as accused four individual LAPD officers – Captain Warner Castillo, Lieutenant Carlos Figueroa and officers Daniel Orlik and Brittany Primo – who she said were involved in the melee or overseeing the officers who were.

Officers could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Los Angeles Times

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