Posts Tagged: police brutality


Occupy LA testimonies from those who were present and / or arrested at the Occupy LA raid on Wednesday, 30 November, 2011.


"Family Guy" writer recalls "Super Violent" Raid

​It’s been almost one week since the Los Angeles Police Department deployed about 1,400 officers to infiltrate and bulldoze the Occupy L.A. encampment outside City Hall.

In that week, as the nearly 300 protesters arrested in the wee hours have trickled out of jail and back to their laptops, we’ve heard multiple accounts of alleged LAPD brutality during the raid. And, more so, after the raid, once TV cameras had moved on to other morning news.

The latest account, as blogged by semi-celebrity Patrick Meighan, is one of the most disturbing.

We’d previously heard from Tyson Heder, a photographer who was mauled (on video) by riot cops, and Yasha Levine, Soviet “exile” and indie journalist who called the LAPD’s behavior worse than anything he’s seen abroad.

But Meighan, a comedy writer who has contributed to smash hits like “Family Guy” and “Titus,” is the first arrestee we can really call a public figure — he even has a Wikipedia page. (For better or worse, that star factor might draw more attention to his story than, say, the account recently submitted to LA Weekly by average dude Matt Kresling. Though we highly recommend you check his out, too.)

Meighan’s story begins with an explanation for the “30 tons of debris" that city officials were complaining would cost a fortune to clean up, on the groggy morning after. As we suspected, the heap wasn’t all garbage and feces, as the naysayers made it out to be.

Instead, it was an LAPD-mashed pile of occupiers’ oft-costly belongings — ones they certainly would have rather cleaned up themselves, in pre-mashed condition.

"As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy LA’s First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my family’s dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as "30 tons of garbage" that was "abandoned" by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison."

Meighan then echoes another common claim in the wake of last Wednesday’s raid: that once the police barricade was formed, some protesters who wanted to leave the camp — de-unlawfully assemble, essentially — weren’t allowed to do so. Thus wasting more city resources on hauling an unprecedented number of peaceful protesters back to the station, instead of the bare minimum.

"When the LAPD finally began arresting those of us interlocked around the symbolic tent, we were all ordered by the LAPD to unlink from each other (in order to facilitate the arrests). Each seated, nonviolent protester beside me who refused to cooperate by unlinking his arms had the following done to him: an LAPD officer would forcibly extend the protestor’s legs, grab his left foot, twist it all the way around and then stomp his boot on the insole, pinning the protestor’s left foot to the pavement, twisted backwards. Then the LAPD officer would grab the protestor’s right foot and twist it all the way the other direction until the non-violent protestor, in incredible agony, would shriek in pain and unlink from his neighbor.

It was horrible to watch, and apparently designed to terrorize the rest of us. At least I was sufficiently terrorized. I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.”

And finally, like many other protesters have alleged, Meighan says he suffered nerve damage from extraordinarily tight handcuffs, and wasn’t allowed access to bathrooms or other amenities.

"My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and palm.

I was put on a paddywagon with other nonviolent protestors and taken to a parking garage in Parker Center. They forced us to kneel on the hard pavement of that parking garage for seven straight hours with our hands still tightly zipcuffed behind our backs. Some began to pass out. One man rolled to the ground and vomited for a long, long time before falling unconscious. The LAPD officers watched and did nothing.”

The comedy writer then cleverly uses the second half of his post to address his real concern: Why haven’t 1-percenters who’ve committed far worse crimes on humanity been subjected to similar treatment?

Good question.

And for the record, the LAPD has denied all allegations of violence last Wednesday night — instead focusing on the miraculous “show of restraint” on both sides. At least one high-profile protester begs to differ. You can lock out the media, but you can’t stop insiders from storming the Internet.


The members of an interfaith group of clergy who ministered to Occupy Los Angeles protesters throughout the two-month occupation of the lawn around Los Angeles City Hall are objecting to what they call a distressing “level of violence and brutality” used by the 1,400 Los Angeles Police Department officers who cleared the encampment from City Hall Park in the early morning hours of Nov. 30.

“Occupiers were pushed and hit and corralled and hunted down by police in a military fashion,” the Occupy L.A. Interfaith Leaders Support Network wrote in a letter delivered to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Dec. 1.

“The mayor and police chief are patting themselves on the back because we are in Los Angeles and no one went to the hospital,” said Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, an associate professor at American Jewish University who signed the letter. 

“People were knocked over, pushed around, pushed with batons, chased down, corralled,” Cohen said, citing reports about police violence that were related to him by other members of the interfaith group who witnessed part of the police action. “It was kind of a ‘shock and awe’ operation, designed to terrorize the people that were there — and it worked. In that way, it worked.”

In addition to objecting to the tactics used against protesters by police officers, the letter from the group of priests, imams, ministers, rabbis and other faith leaders called the city’s decision to hold the 292 nonviolent protesters arrested on Nov. 30 in jail on $5,000 bail “unacceptable.”

The Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergy established a presence at the encampment very early on. Every Wednesday morning, they met at the Interfaith Sanctuary at a structure that began its life as a sukkah. 

The group objected to the protesters’ being held on $5,000 bail, which, for many, Cohen said, represents an impossible sum of money to procure.

In addition to ministering to the occupiers through a variety of actions — including a Black Friday Interfaith Service held at the encampment the morning after Thanksgiving — some members of the Occupy L.A. Sanctuary also played a role in facilitating meetings between the mayor’s office and the leaders of Occupy L.A. in the days and weeks before the closure of the encampment.

When Villaraigosa first announced on Nov. 23 that the occupiers would be removed on Nov. 28 at 12:01 a.m., the interfaith group wrote to him,  asking for additional time — “weeks not days” — to allow the Occupy L.A. group to transition out of City Hall Park in a peaceful and democratic manner. That earlier letter, the text of which was posted on the Occupy L.A. Sanctuary blog on Nov. 25, was signed by 179 clergy members, and it got the mayor’s attention.

On the morning of Nov. 28, hours after the initial deadline to vacate was allowed to pass, a group of 14 clergy and laypeople calling themselves “the interfaith affinity group of Occupy L.A. supporting the occupation” met with Villaraigosa to make the case for calling off or delaying the removal of the encampment.

The mayor, however, did not budge. “Mayor Villaraigosa seemed very receptive to the ideas of the Occupy movement, even as he said the encampment needed to end, that that had become no longer sustainable,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater of the Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center, who was among those at the Nov. 28 meeting.

In the end, the eviction went forward, and only the police, the Occupy protesters and a select group of reporters pre-approved by LAPD got to watch it from start to finish. A number of clergy members, Cohen said, had reached an agreement with the incident commander on the scene on Tuesday night, in advance of the LAPD raid, that should have allowed them to witness the arrests of any protesters.

That deal was broken.

“Clergy were not allowed entrance to the park during the crucial period in which they could have been helpful to occupiers who had not previously decided to be arrested,” the interfaith leaders wrote in their letter to Villaraigosa.

For his part, Cohen didn’t make it anywhere near the Occupy L.A. encampment in advance of the LAPD officers storming into the park early Nov. 30, and neither did Grater. Both were stopped in different spots by LAPD officers who had established a blocks-wide cordon around City Hall in an effort to keep the numbers of protesters in the encampment from swelling.

After being turned back, Cohen headed home and kept track of developments from there, but Grater remained at the spot where the LAPD line stopped his progress, at the corner of Main and Aliso streets. More and more people kept arriving, until the crowd numbered about 150 people, he said.

When a few large buses filled with police officers approached the intersection where the group of would-be Occupy L.A. protesters was massed, Grater said, the protesters “decided to sit down in front of the buses in the intersection and started singing. They were not going to let those buses go through.”

“The police exited the buses and were standing there,” he continued. “It was about a 20 minute face-off, and in the end, the buses backed up and found another way around. A lot of police officers walked.”

Even at those moments, when the potential for a conflict was most palpable, Grater said, the protesters held fast to Occupy L.A.’s commitment to keep their protest activities nonviolent.

“A lot of them were chanting, ‘Police need a raise, police need a raise,’ ” Grater said. “There was not much animosity.”

Although the faith leaders had failed to convince the mayor to allow Occupy L.A. more time to work things out using its democratic process, the advance notice given was sufficient to ensure that the sanctuary’s structure — a sukkah that belongs to Rabbi Jonathan Klein of CLUE-LA — could be retrieved before police dismantled the camp.

“Jonathan has it,” Grater said. “He took it down.”


Anthony Lascano’s Violent Arrest


Anthony Lascano’s Violent Arrest 12/3/2011


Facts so far are: a ruthlessly efficient miltary operation comprised of 1400 riot cops armed with tear gas canisters and batons was roundly praised by the mainstream media as “peaceful’. This ignored the police brutality witnessed including beatings, unlawful arrests and rubber bullets used on protestors and media, while the legitimacy of the second 'unlawful assembly called at First and Main, and resulting in numerous more arrests, is still called into question. A media pool was established covertly, citing non-existent penal codes to silence the press, while media in the pool were working for the LAPD.

Update No. 4: So KCAL9 was running an awesome aerial live stream of the massive deployment of 1,000-plus LAPD officers from Dodger Stadium to City Hall. But then — get this — they reportedly stopped the stream because they had “made an agreement with LAPD not to reveal their tactics,” and wanted to protect the integrity of the operation.

The Mayor and LAPD appeared on CNN Live to deny all this, naming my blog and saying that it was untrue. Meanwhile, the 292 arrestees’ bail was set extortionately high at 5k. Our TRO was thrown out of court as the judge claimed Carol Sobel of the National Lawyers’ Guild had not filed in time.

The next day, Occupiers returning to the West Steps of Solidarity Park from Pershing Square were surrounded by riot cops who seemed on the verge of making arrests. Once they dispersed and our General Assembly of approximately 300 people commenced, Occupiers were told by the fifty or so remaining police oficers surrounding City Hall that if we did not disperse by 10.30pm, they would call unlawful assembly and arrest us again. All arrestees released on OR today were warned that if they returned to City Hall, they would face arrest. A source from the mainstream media sent me this email:

Civil Rights Attorney Cynthia Anderson Barker says: “One condition of OR release is a stay away order from City Hall. We can fight that as the case proceeds.”

Forty Occupiers outside the City Metro Jail on Los Angeles and Temple, waiting to greet the arrestees this evening, were again surrounded by around fifty policemen despite being peaceful.

As the numbers of Occupiers across America who have now been jailed, tear gassed, beaten and subject to intimidation and violence in reaction to their peaceful protests reaches into the thousands., the Senate just passed a bill that allowed indefinite detention of American citizens living within the US.


I was in the inner arrestee circle in Solidarity Park until the very last minute. I tweeted continually from 9pm until 5.30am, yet I have seven hours of tweets missing from my twitter feed. I was in the Park when the Police came in from within City Hall. They were not violent. Neither were we. They called unlawful assembly.

No bad treatment of protestors occurred while the mainstream media was watching - it was only at the end that this occurred, when the non pool reporters were separated from the pool media, and the reporters not in the pool were shoved and hit by cops.

At this point I left, but other non-pool media refused to leave and wanted to stay reporting on the scene. Jared Iorio, our photographer, stayed for fifteen minutes after me and was hit repeatedly (twice) in the chest with a baton by a policeman until he left Solidarity Park. He joined a group of about 600 people on 1st and Main. After half an hour of being pushed back, the police called an unlawful assembly over the megaphone, and asked us to move or we would be arrested.

Approximately 300 of us walked down 1st towards Los Angeles, leaving 300 left standing by the cops.  The police moved in after us, and kettled the 300 left behind. Seeing this, we ran, as a group, a couple of blocks to get away from them, losing people all along the way. Then suddenly a group of police emerged. We were blocked (kettled) in on Alameda between second and first. The police started running towards us - the group was now about 100 people by this point - and everyone ran into a parking lot to escape. The police ran after them and started beating protestors with batons repeatedly as they were running away trying to escape. I saw about ten police hit protestors. I did not get video footage nor photographs as I was running.

Jared, me and three others escaped up first street and ran to Skid Row. None of the protestors I was with had been violent, none had destroyed property, none were even tormenting the police. They were running away from the scene, trying to avoid being kettled by the police. The violence I witnessed was pretty intense. Those cops were pissed and wanted to hurt people. They were running and beating people who were simply RUNNING away, trying to escape!

I sent this to The Guardian and The LA Times just now. It’s not well written. But it highlights the frighteningly militant tactics enacted by LAPD tonight. The Media Pool I revealed late last night, written about in this great LA Weekly article, and on the front page of yesterday’s Los Angeles Times:

The city’s concern about its image was underscored Monday when police announced they would be allowing only a small group of print, television and radio journalists past police lines when the eviction is finally carried out. Police said the rules were to protect journalists from being harmed during the operation.

This media pool drew mainstream media into the inner circle, where they were treated to a display of courteous policing and nonviolence by the police. Even I was impressed by the police. The operation was smooth and efficient and tactical.

Then the pool media was divided from the regular media, and kept in the inner circle. They were not present to witness the brutality and violence enacted by LAPD officers who were kettling and running after protestors in order to beat them outside the park and mainstream media attention. LAPD smoothly kept MSM from witnessing this, and tried to control other media by constant kettling and dividing of the crowd. The Mainstream Media were deliberately obstructed from reporting, and were complicit in their own silencing - as this updated extract from the LA Weekly makes horrifically clear:

Update No. 4: So KCAL9 was running an awesome aerial live stream of the massive deployment of 1,000-plus LAPD officers from Dodger Stadium to City Hall. But then — get this — they reportedly stopped the stream because they had “made an agreement with LAPD not to reveal their tactics,” and wanted to protect the integrity of the operation.

Tonight was tactical, it was efficient - and it quite clearly violated our First Amendment Rights, not only by violating our right to petition for a redress of grievances, but by manipulating and censoring the media, so that they were unable to cover the violence and abuses being carried out by the LAPD on peaceful protestors not under the MSM’s eye.

Tonight has radicalized many people, and highlighted the true nature of City Council, LAPD and Mayor Villaraigosa. Villaraigosa is an expert politician, who has no interest in our grievances, our demands and our movement. He, like so many Angelenos in the Film Industry, only cares about portraying the necessary image to advance his own agenda. When the cameras are turned off, he doesn’t need to act anymore. And then the violence and abuse starts.


As both a journalist who occasionally freelances for the mainstream media, and an Occupier, I find myself in a conflicted position regarding reporting on Occupy LA. My personal affinity towards the movement means that I am loathe to write about it in the mainstream media with any kind of objectivity. The flipside of this is that rarely is the mainstream media itself impartial or unbiased. I do, however, frequently pass on accurate information to publications such as The Guardian when it does not conflict with the solidarity of the movement. For example, The Guardian’s recent reporting on Eviction Night was crap, so I wrote in and corrected it with accurate details. I’m sure they probably ignored me. But anyway. Referring again to The Guardian, a recent article by Naomi Wolf, entitled The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy, caused a furore across the internet. It’s advent was timely, given the tweets sent out by the LAPD today announcing a media pool for Occupy LA: #LAPD meeting to do lottery to select “pool media” for future #OccupyLA activity. Interested media in pool must have rep attend mtg @ 7:15pm RT @DavidBegnaud: #LAPD media relations to hold news conference at 7:15pm tonight @LAPDHQ regarding #occupyla #ktla The repercussions of this are tremendous: this essentially means from now onwards, only a limited number of pre-agreed media endorsed by LAPD are allowed on Solidarity Park (formerly known as City Hall) property to report on Occupy LA and our battles with the LAPD and City Council’s attempts to evict us. I immediately emailed a member of the press who was in this meeting representing a MSM publication, and received this response: They were only going to let in one media outlet for each medium (print, tv and radio) but we convinced them to let in three….the only media eligible for pool were those who were on the LAPD press release list and able to get to headquarters with an hours notice. So very few were represented at the meeting. I asked about independent radio/blogs and they said that only media with LAPD-issued badges would be allowed in the vicinity. I asked about those already at the camp and they said after the unlawful assembly order everyone who doesn’t leave will be arrested, even those who are journalists. Our attorney was looking into whether there were legal challenges to be made. Once again, a clear violation of First Amendment Rights is occuring over Occupy LA and its eviction. It remains to be seen whether other members of the MSM excluded from the pool adhere to it or not, but the banning of MSM from the scene of Occupy LA during its eviction severely inhibits the press from reporting fairly and accurately, as well as protecting Occupiers from police abuses, which are frequently deterred by the presence of the media. Last night, on the street, one of the chants heard often was “The Whole World is Watching”. LAPD listened to that, and instantly addressed it, so that they can make sure the whole world isn’t watching. Only those MSM outlets they choose to filter our information are going to be watching Occupy LA and LAPD’s attempts to evict us. Note: California Penal Code Section 409.5 clearly states reasons that the LAPD and other agencies may close areas due to public health concerns, riots, civil disturbances or calimities (earthquakes, fires, floods, etc) — but — Section D of 409.5 states: (D) NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL PREVENT A DULY AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE OF ANY NEWS SERVICE, NEWSPAPER, RADIO OR TELEVISON STATION OR NETWORK FROM ENTERING THE AREAS CLOSED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION. (bold mine)