The Los Angeles Police Department mishandled protesters and was inadequately trained to control crowds over the summer, a new report has found. The report, commissioned by the Los Angeles City Council, blamed the department's poor planning for the hundreds of protesters who were injured by officers or had their rights violated during racial justice demonstrations in the city last summer.
“It is unfortunate that the same issues have arisen again and again, with the department being unable or unwilling to rectify the problem,” the report, which was prepared by a panel of former LAPD commanders, stated.
Many demonstrators were injured by hard-foam projectile weapons, which the report states officers only trained with for two hours. The department also deployed “shadow teams” of undercover officers into crowds without plans for how they would relay information back to commanders. The report also accused officers of using violent tactics against peaceful protesters, while organized robbers or violent groups went free.
Councilman Mike Bonin responded to the report, calling it “damning and disturbing.” Bonin and fellow Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who first sought to commission the report, said they were concerned to see the department make the same mistakes that have led to lawsuits in the past.
“Seeing these problems resurface almost 10 years later suggests costly stagnation or worse,” Harris-Dawson said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti added that the report “makes clear we need to see better training, policies and procedures.”
Activists have responded to the report, saying it underscores the claims they’ve been making all along. Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, the National Lawyers Guild and other groups previously sued the LAPD for violating protesters’ constitutional rights, brutalizing them with projectiles and subjecting them to hours of detainment for offenses that only warranted citations.
“What’s not talked about is really what’s core to what LACAN and Black Lives Matter and the National Lawyers Guild are suing about, which is that we should not be criminalizing protests,” co-founder of BLM’s L.A. chapter, Melina Abdullah, told ABC 7.
The report also accused the LAPD of mishandling arrested protesters and said people were “detained at the scene of the arrests for hours, handcuffed on the pavement, detained in buses and taken to remote locations without water or the use of bathroom facilities.” Many were also detained or handcuffed on curbs for “exceedingly long periods of time” despite being cited for city codes, which does not allow for extended detainment.
The LAPD is currently conducting its own investigation on the protests and a third review will be done by the National Police Foundation. The department said it would not comment on specific criticisms until all three reports are published.
“It is the department’s intent to digest the findings from all three reports, their findings, recommendations [and] identify areas of improvement and a path forward,” the LAPD said in a statement.