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Brickbats and Kudos to Police Department

August 20, 2000

For four days I have been on the streets observing police and protesters. It is clear that the LAPD's strategy from the outset has been to terrorize citizens into not exercising their constitutional rights. On Monday evening police fired [foam rubber projectiles] indiscriminately into an overwhelmingly peaceful gathering in order to frighten people from participating during the rest of the week.

On a daily basis, the LAPD blocked intersections to prevent newcomers from joining marches. Corporate media were allowed to cross police lines for backslapping sessions with police propagandists while independent media and other citizens were forced back into protest pits. Small groups of peaceful young people leaving rallies were denied access to city sidewalks while older adults in business suits walked by without interference. Officers routinely hid badges and name tags in order to prevent documentation of potential misconduct.

It may be impractical to disband the LAPD and start from scratch, but surely leaders like Chief Bernard Parks and Mayor Richard Riordan must be held accountable for the onslaught on the Constitution and the American people.


Los Angeles

* A big "thank you" goes to the Los Angeles Police Department from all of us who are grateful for the way officers have handled themselves and the situation at Staples Center during the Democratic convention. When swift action was necessary they took it, yet in a relatively restrained way, using [foam] rubber bullets, not billy clubs.

At other times they stood up to insult and assault that the average person would not have the patience to endure. They respected the right of demonstrators to voice their opinions in a peaceful and orderly way that did not infringe on the rights of others who frequent the downtown area. One should not be fooled by those made ugly with hate toward the police as evil as they accuse the police of being.


West Hollywood

* Re "Protecting the Lives--and Rights--of All," by Bernard Parks, Commentary, Aug. 16: As a member of the organizing D2K network, I was in Pershing Square all week and observed the massive police presence and the demeanor of the protesters. Peaceful, festive crowds at permitted rallies in the park and on the streets have been surrounded by scores of police in full riot gear. In addition to the arrests, I have heard from eyewitnesses about several incidents of police harassment and over-controlling behavior.

Although Chief Parks denies it, the behavior of the LAPD this past week clearly shows that it assumed that every protester was a criminal waiting for an opportunity to cause mayhem. Police acting on this ludicrous assumption created a steady stream of news about confrontations with protesters. Our message about corporate control of politics and policy was obscured. But the problem isn't going away, and despite the police harassment we aren't going away either.


Los Angeles

* It would appear that the LAPD is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. I, for one, just want to thank all the hard-working, honest members of the LAPD and other law enforcement personnel.


Temple City

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