CityWatch, Dec 9, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 98
RETHINING LA - When the LAPD descended from Dodger Mountain and surveyed the battlefield, they must have felt like Goliath who looked at David and bellowed in rage “Am I a dog that you send a boy with a stick?”
The 1400 LAPD were wrapped from head to toe in protective armor that still smelled of mothballs, their training in hostile enemy conflict was untested, and their supervisors had warned them of biohazard dangers and provocateurs.
As hundreds of officers in paramilitary gear surrounded City Hall Park and fought to hold back spectators, media, and folks who had arrived in support of Occupy LA, a SWAT style team descended from City Hall in search of their enemy.
They found their neighbors, peaceful protesters who sat Indian-style, arms interlocked and chanting “We Are Peaceful” and “We Are Nonviolent” and “Join Us.”
At this point, the shortcomings of a training program that focuses on war and ignores peace were revealed. The bullies embedded within the LAPD found freedom to exercise their demons, to act on the rage they felt when they were denied the opportunity to unleash their skills on a violent enemy.
Faced with a docile crowd, the LAPD gave the instructions to disperse and many of the Occupy LA crowd simply walked out of City Hall Park. Most of them made it to the far side of the LAPD skirmish lines with the exception of some who actually followed the instructions carefully, only to find themselves faced with LAPD officers who then arrested them. This can be chalked up to confusion in the fog of war.
By this time, the Occupy LA camp had been reduced to debris by the LAPD, canopies shredded, belongings scattered, tent poles broken, and the demonstration of power was underway.
The LAPD made an announcement directing those who wished to be arrested to sit on the ground and some sat while others simply walked away.
When the time came to arrest those remaining in City Hall Park, the LAPD asked them to stand and walk out of the park. These people were charged with “failure to disperse” while those who remained seated on the ground qualified for the harsher charge of “resisting arrest.”
Zach Behrens, Editor of KCET, reports that fully 50% of the LAPD ranks have been hired in the last six years, an indication that the gung-ho LAPD of old is now filled with young officers who have been trained in the “constitutional policing” promise of Bratton and Beck.
That training failed to materialize, whether in the actions of those who used pain coercion tactics on peaceful protesters or in the failure of LAPD officers who witnessed their partners as they transformed into vindictive bullies who reveled in petty displays of terror.
The peaceful protesters had prepared for this moment, they had attended workshops where they learned how to communicate peace while subjected to pain and humiliation and yet they were shocked at the commitment to terror they experienced at the hands of the LAPD.
Patrick Meighan offers a well written first person account of his experience as an inner-circle protester, one who saw ankles twisted, wrenched, and then stepped on as bullies began a long evening of small violations that revealed a failure in the LAPD’s ability to train and control its troops.
Tyler Lyle had a different vantage point and his first person journal of his experience as an arrestee also reveals a dangerous and unchecked presence of bullies within the LAPD.
Many have argued that an arrest, by definition, is an uncomfortable experience that starts with the deprival of freedom. The stories of the Occupy LA arrestees are dismissed as the naive complaints of those who failed to weigh the risks when they set out to protest and to participate in voluntary arrest.
On the other hand, the law is quite clear that when an individual’s drive for satisfaction motivates them to inflict injury and pain on another, a serious law has been broken, one much more severe than failure to disperse or resisting arrest.
Was it necessary to use a bean-bag shotgun on an individual in a tree? Perhaps it was poor supervision and simply the wrong tool in the wrong hands.
Was it necessary to use hooks to pull the platform out of the tree, potentially causing protesters to fall to the ground? Again, maybe the supervisors gave bad instructions and perhaps the officers were poorly trained in the fine art of rescuing cats from trees.
Was it necessary to carry protesters out of the park and then toss them to the sidewalk face-first? Hard to dismiss this one as poor supervision, it’s starting to look like resentment and anger empowered bullies to begin acting out.
Was it necessary to zip-tie wrists so tightly that circulation was restricted, causing pain and nerve damage? This is a failure on the part of the supervisors and an opportunity for bullies to quietly inflict major pain while reveling in the cacophony of voices begging for relief.
From the arrestees left to sit in their own waste to the loud music played by the bus drivers to the petty denials of rights and the infliction of a punitive process, the first person accounts of the LAPD’s performance during the liberation of City Hall Park sound an alarm, we are surrounded by bullies in search of victims.
There is no excuse for the behavior of bullies and they have no place in a civilized society, whether at school, on the streets, in the workplace, in a park or in City Hall
Bullies are simply unacceptable.
Even worse than the behavior of bullies is the failure of witnesses to act, to stand up for the victims.
As the LAPD’s sweep of Occupy LA’s encampment took place, it is reported that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stood to the side and observed the hostile arrest of a peaceful occupation, one that reportedly included the antisocial behavior of bullies.
It is on Villaraigosa’s shoulders to account for each and every bully who allowed a passive adversary to inflame their bruised ego in such a way that they acted out and intentionally caused pain and injury to satisfy their sadistic personal demons.
(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net .)