Activists with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles have sued the city for LAPD’s response to a protest at Mayor Eric Garcetti .’s home in December 2020, alleging they were assaulted by baton-wielding officers in violation of their constitutional rights.
The activists said their demonstration, held against Garcetti getting a job in President Biden’s administration, was completely peaceful. Still, they said, Los Angeles Police Department officers forcibly burst into the crowd and began attacking people.
“There were children then, there were elderly people, and [the police] exaggerated,” said Greg Akili, 73, a BLM LA leader and chief prosecutor in the case. “Too often we’ve seen LAPD want to demonstrate their ability to control a situation, and when they do that and black people are involved, they overdo it, go too far and we get hurt.”
The lawsuit, which seeks class action status to collectively represent the protesters involved, alleges that about 50 people were “battered or knocked down by LAPD officers” despite posing no threat to the officers or anyone else in the area. the area.
“The LAPD officers pushed and brandished batons and knocked down peaceful protesters gathered in front of the mayor’s mansion, then brutally beat them with batons, including head strikes, causing serious injuries,” the lawsuit alleges.
Captain Stacy Spell, an LAPD spokesperson, said on Wednesday the department was unable to comment on the pending lawsuit.
However, at the time of the incident, Spell had defended the officers’ actions, saying they joined the protesters only after four officers attempted to arrest the person with the megaphone — for allegedly violating a municipal code against the police. producing sounds carrying more than 200 feet – began to be beaten, pushed and kicked by other protesters trying to avoid arrest.
“Officers used their batons to prevent the mob from violently trying to free the suspect from police custody,” Spell said. “But the suspect eventually ran off.”
Department policy states that officers can only wave batons at people if they pose a physical threat.
The incident was condemned by some elected leaders, who accused the officers of excessive force, and the department said it would review video of the incident. Videos taken by protesters and journalists and posted online show officers waving their batons at protesters and knocking them to the ground.
Garcetti’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit on Wednesday.
The Times has previously reported that Garcetti’s wife, Amy Wakeland, had been in regular contact with police that year about protesters making noise outside her home., which she said was difficult for her daughter and other children around.
Leaders with BLM LA had staged daily outdoor protests in December 2020 based on political chatter that Biden Garcetti, one of his early backers, could offer a political appointment, possibly even to his cabinet. Protesters opposed such an appointment, rejecting Garcetti’s record of transportation, homelessness and policing.
the protesters had been outside Garcetti’s house daily for more than a week prior to the incident, and then returned, never with major problems – more proof, in Akili’s view, that the police’s decision to barge in on the day of the crackdown was unjustified.
“It had always been peaceful,” he said. “It may have been loud, but it was always peaceful.”
Garcetti was not offered a cabinet position, but he was offered the position of ambassador to India. The appointment was confirmed on Wednesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but has yet to run for Senate.
The BLM lawsuit is questioning some of the same tactics used by the LAPD during the massive protests against the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department months earlier, when officers were also charged with excessive force and brutality against protesters.
BLM LA is still pending in a separate class-action case over the LAPD’s treatment of protesters during those demonstrations, which took place in May and June 2020 and saw tens of thousands of people take to the streets.
The new lawsuit alleges that officers have been assaulted and mistreated and that the rights of protesters have been violated as a result of threats, intimidation and unreasonable violence. It also calls on the court to indemnify individual protesters, cover their legal costs, and provide them and prospective protesters with relief from future LAPD abuses — including by issuing a court order banning the city. “unlawfully and unconstitutionally protected expressive activity, meetings and demonstrations.”
Akili, who said he was pushed to the ground by officers, said such judicial restrictions are necessary as the LAPD continues to violate protesters’ First Amendment rights, despite being called out publicly.
“That’s why there’s a Black Lives Matter, because they haven’t learned anything,” he said. “This is all too often the pattern and practice of the LAPD, this idea of control and oppression. And that’s how we end up getting hurt and killed.”
The lawsuit alleges that Akili “was pushed from behind, landed on his hands and caused an injury to his right hand that took months to fully heal.”
In addition to the city, the lawsuit names four individual LAPD officers as defendants – Capt. Warner Castillo, Lt. Carlos Figueroa and officers Daniel Orlik and Brittany Primo – who were allegedly involved in the battle or in overseeing the officers who were.
Officers could not be reached for comment Wednesday.