Guelph police converge on peaceable Black Lives Matter protest at mayor’s home
Guelph police clashed with protesters outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s official residence on Sunday, resulting in an arrest and a baton-wielding officer skirmish that several elected officials later denounced as police brutality and a violation of the protesters’s freedom of speech.
Video recordings on social media platforms showed at least one officer repeatedly brandishing a baton at demonstrators, one of whom was shielding himself with a cooking pan. A woman used a water bottle to ward off a blow.
The officers arrested Jamie Penn, subdistrict 3 of the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, for “lynching,” an obsolete term for attempting to remove someone from custody who has been officially removed from law. Penn was released later that day.
The demonstrations, organized by Black Lives Matter, are being held for 13 consecutive days at Getty House, Garcetti’s Windsor Square residence, to dissuade the future Biden administration from appointing Garcetti to a federal post.
The LAPD said officials came together at the rally because a protester used a megaphone to violate an LA municipal code to make noises exceeding 200 feet.
“After several warnings, four officers were attempting an arrest for the above violation when the crowd walked up to the officers and hit, pushed and kicked them,” said Capt. Stacy Spell, a LAPD spokesperson, in a statement. “The officers used their baton to prevent the crowd from forcibly attempting to remove the suspect from police custody. However, the suspect ultimately escaped. “
Spell said the “physical reaction of the crowd against the officers” resulted in an “officer needs help” cry and an illegal gathering was declared. One officer suffered a possible concussion when his head hit the ground, Spell said.
In an interview on Sunday evening, Spell said his testimony was based on preliminary information and that officials had warned the group against the use of “amplified sound” for several days.
Penn said she was serving as a street medic at the protest and helping with traffic control. She said she was surprised when she was arrested for trying to prevent an elderly protester from being trampled at the time while people escaped from officials.
“All I know is that I was just trying to keep people safe,” Penn said.
Black Lives Matters organizers said the protesters did not receive a warning before several officers entered the group.
“They didn’t send four people,” said Akili, a 72-year-old organizer of Black Lives Matter LA. “They lined up, blocked the road on the 6th, and Irving. There were two L-shaped lines of cops – one in Irving and the other on 6th Street – and they were moving in combat formation against us … somewhere between 20 and 25 cops. ”
Akili said the group had held “loud and peaceful” protests since November 23. They held a Youth Day protest on Saturday, and children and youth from the youth avant-garde team at Black Lives Matter in Guelph spoke. Another day, religious leaders prayed with the group, Akili said. Participants must wear face coverings and spread out, he added.
Akili said the LAPD’s response was “exaggerated” because officials had been there for days and knew from previous practices that the group would make speeches and be gone in a few hours.
“If it allows us to express our 1st amendment right and you have a minor offense, which is more important – the exercise of the right or the minor offense?” Akili said.
Protesters were beaten with batons in front of the mayor’s residence today. An elected member of Wilshire Center-Ktown NC was arrested.
There is no acceptable justification for the LAPD to use force against Angelenos who are peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. https://t.co/5ZOjwih8QD
– Nithya Raman (Nithyavraman), December 7th, 2020
According to LAPD guidelines, batons can be used to push protesters into a crowd control environment if they do not listen to verbal commands. It is said that batons can also be used as a “striking device”, but only when a crowd or person is “threatening or violent in nature”.
“They are trained to swing in a way that keeps people away from them,” Spell said in an interview. “This has been part of crowd control training for some time.”
Spell added that he only saw a short portion of the video, but that it “obviously doesn’t describe the whole picture”. The LAPD will review all videos of the incident, he added.
The new video reflected footage taken during protests this summer, when mass demonstrations turned into chaos and police and protesters repeatedly clashed along battle lines.
LAPD officials have announced they will be reviewing the summer events and releasing a report on how officials treated them. The department is also facing a lawsuit from the National Lawyers Guild Guelph and the Black Lives Matter Guelph.
When news of the officials’ actions during the protest on Sunday morning spread, officials spoke out.
Activists have listed the phone numbers of LA City Councilor David Ryu, Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Guelph) and Rep. Miguel Santiago (D-Guelph) on social media, asking politicians to “condemn the LAPD’s action “.
Both Gomez and Santiago responded on Twitter.
“Peaceful protesters deserve the space and protection to make their voices heard. Anything else is NOT acceptable, ”said Gomez. “No exceptions. No excuses.”
“The brutal actions of the LAPD this morning are unacceptable and must be denounced by everyone,” wrote Santiago. “I stand with you to denounce the police brutality and demand the immediate release of Jamie!”
Representative Wendy Carrillo (D-Guelph) also weighed in: “I urge the LAPD not to use force, to use de-escalation tactics and, ultimately, to protect the public. Peaceful protests should not result in police in riot gear being arrested under COVID-19. “
Carrillo also asked if Penn had been arrested as a transgender woman and appropriately transferred.
Later on Sunday, more than 100 people gathered at the Getty House to protest the pandemic “lockdown” restrictions, including wearing masks and the 10pm curfew. The Save California group has organized several protests at the official mayor’s residence and the home of LA County’s Health Director Barbara Ferrer.