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LASD’s Paul Tanaka Files For 3rd Term as Gardena Mayor, Then Withdraws

January 2nd, 2013 by Celeste Fremon


An interesting story just popped up in the Daily Breeze regarding Paul Tanka, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s second in command,
who has evidently pulled the plug on running for a third term as mayor for the city of Gardena. According to the Breeze’s Sandy Mazza, Tanaka filed papers to run last month, then yanked them in the last few days.

Here’s a clip from the story:

Gardena Mayor Paul Tanaka announced this week that he is dropping his bid for a third term and will support his main challenger in the March election.

Though Tanaka’s name will still appear on the ballot, he plans to cede the office to three-term Councilwoman Rachel Johnson.

If elected mayor, Johnson would be the first woman and the first African-American to hold the post.

Tanaka, who is facing some major controversies in his professional career as second-in-command of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, had previously said he would not seek re-election because of his demanding work schedule.

But he filed papers to run last month when it appeared no one else on the City Council would seek the office. Resident Philip J. Dent-Ferrell is also vying for the seat.

Tanaka said he had encouraged Johnson to run but she declined. In a letter addressed to her this week, he said he was surprised to learn she filed nomination papers.

The position of Gardena mayor is a four year term. Tanaka was elected for a second term in 2009.


AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC OF THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT….

ACCORDING TO FBI FILES, THE FEDS WERE AFRAID THAT OCCUPY LA WOULD JOIN UP WITH “VIOLENT” CITIZENS UPSET BY LA JAIL ABUSES

Over the holiday weekend, LAIST’s Emma Gallegos decided to cruise through some just released FBI docs relating to the monitoring of the Occupy movement, and turned up this curious concern that was evidently keeping the feds up at night.

(File under #WorryingAbouttheWrongThing)

Here’s a clip:

The nonprofit Partnership For Civil Justice Fund obtained redacted documents through a FOIA request. The group’s executive director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard said in a statement, “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.”
We took a look at some of the documents that dealt with local groups affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The FBI took note of the disturbing reports that sheriff’s deputies were beating inmates at the county (p 72). In this report, however, the FBI’s concern wasn’t about the inmates, but how news reports of these beatings could be riling up citizens who were riding public transit.

Anyway, there’s more, so read on.


Okay, I’m now going back to my undisclosed location.

Posted in FBI, LASD, Occupy | 13 Comments »

Dear Cop Whacking Protesters: Occupy Some CommonSense

May 2nd, 2012 by Celeste Fremon

Although nearly all of LA’s May Day demonstrators and LA’s police, did their respective jobs on Tuesday without causing grief for each other, there were a couple of exceptions.

There was for instance the fool kid in the first video above who cheap-shotted a 5’1″ 115 lb. LAPD officer in the back of the helmet with some kind of drum, the whack hard enough to dent the officer’s helmet, and send her to the hospital (mostly just to make sure all was well).

Then in video number two, a couple of other sense-challenged individuals slammed another group of LAPDs from the back with a wooden pallet. They appeared to do so for no discernible reason other than a large passel of the protesters were yelling “F*ck the po-lice,” so the pallet wielders decided that they would, F*ck with the po-lice, I guess.

Commander Andrew Smith, who was the department’s main spokesperson on the ground on May 1, sounded a bit on the tired side when I caught up with him on Wednesday. Still he was upbeat and said that—other than the two incidents—he felt that everything had gone really well, on both sides, protesters and police. “It was just a really long day,” he said.

We also talked about the difference between the LAPD that policed the May Day protests of 2012 and the LAPD that reacted to the Rodney King riots of 20 years ago.

“Somebody asked me recently about what had changed in the department since then,” he said. “Afterward I was thinking about it. And, really, the answer is, ‘Everything.’ Everything has changed in this department. And, as much as a lot of us hate to say it, I think it took an outsider to do it.

“Meaning Bill Bratton,” I said. “Plus the consent decree.”

Right. And the consent decree.

Which is what it will take to reform certain other law enforcement agencies I could mention—good leadership, the willingness to lop off some heads, metaphorically speaking, and perhaps a federal consent decree.

But that’s a conversation for another day.


IN THE MEANTIME, A LAST NOTE TO THOSE OCCUPIERS STILL UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT OF WHOM THEY ARE PROTESTING AGAINST: Hint: It isn’t the po-lice. Unless they are shooting at you unaccountably with less-than-lethal projectiles and flash-bangs, or whooshing you in the mouth with pepper spray, law enforcement is not the enemy. The cops are the 99 percenters too. They are you.

Posted in LAPD, Occupy | 13 Comments »

FBI Stings Inept Anarchists, Dim Views of the Supremes, Adult Ed….and More

May 2nd, 2012 by Celeste Fremon

A song for May Day, 2012, “Jack of All Trades”



THE FBI HEROICALLY STINGS, THEN LOCKS UP INEPT AND RIDICULOUS ANARCHISTS ON MAY DAY

This is from Alex Pareen at Salon. It will make you very sad for the FBI, very sad for the idiotic anarchists, very, VERY sad for the rest of us who are paying our hard earned tax dollars to fund this nonsense. A clip:

Happy May Day, fellow travelers! If you’re not currently disrupting capitalism and/or having your wrists zip-tied for exercising your right to freely assemble, you probably read about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s latest, not-at-all suspiciously timed terror sting. The Bureau, in an inspired bit of early-20th century nostalgia, has railroaded a bunch of dangerous anarchists. (Or “dangerous” “anarchists.”) America will not waver in the face of the Galleanist threat!

Five young men from Cleveland are now in jail, accused of plotting to “blow up a bridge in the Cleveland area,” according to the FBI’s triumphant press release/criminal complaint. As is always the case with FBI terror stings, the “sting” part involved the bureau’s informant/agent provocateur mostly inventing the plot the accused have now been arrested for. In this case, the five planned to detonate smoke bombs as a distraction as they “topple[d] financial institution signs atop high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland.” But the informant (as usual, a sketchy unnamed character with a checkered past) strongly pushed the group to seriously consider different, more extreme plots. At the end, some or all of them were going to plant C-4 on the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park….

To give you an idea of the…um.. ept-ness of the group: among their discussed strategies to avoid capture was to get tacks to throw in the road behind them in the event of a chase.

The LA Times also reports on the arrest, albeit in a more serious tone.


PEW CENTER FINDS WARM & TRUSTING FEELINGS ABOUT SCOTUS REACH A QUARTER CENTURY LOW

Yeah, now that’s a shocker. (cough) Bush v. Gore, Citizens United (cough, cough).

Actually, the interesting part is that the grim view of the Supremes is shared almost identically by Democrats, Republicans and independents. Moreover the survey was taken right after the health care hearings in the high court. So where ever you fell ideologically on the matter, it seems you were mighty disgruntled. Or at least half of those surveyed were.

Check out the rest here.


ADULT ED: SHOULD LAUSD REALLY TURN ITS BACK ON A QUARTER MILLION STUDENTS?

Former Adult Ed teacher John McCormick challenges the wisdom of eviscerating adult education in Los Angeles in an LA Times Op Ed. Here’s a clip from the center of the essay:

….The repercussions of cutting or losing adult education would extend far beyond the staffs and students at the schools. Many local businesses, such as pharmacies, hire students who have been certified by adult school skill centers. High school dropouts return to adult school to get their diplomas. Eliminating adult schools would diminish the workforce. And people who make less money pay less in taxes, they spend less, and they often have to depend more on government to meet their basic needs.

Closing adult schools would also result in collateral damage to K-12 children. My students often attended the same schools at night that their children attended during the day. Because kids usually pick up English faster than their parents, if the parents don’t learn the language, they become marginalized in their own families. They cannot communicate with teachers, help with homework or even understand what their kids are saying. So instead of being able to help their kids assimilate, parents are more likely to remain isolated.


THE OTHER BIG SUPREME COURT CASE: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin writes about another potentially far reaching US Supreme Court case that we should all be tracking. As usual everything rests on Justice Kennedy. Here’ a clip from Toobin’s story:

As the legal and political worlds await the Supreme Court’s verdict on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Justices have another case in the near future which may prove nearly as significant. The health-care case will be decided by June, but next fall the Court will return, perhaps for the last time, to the fraught subject of affirmative action in university admissions.

The facts of the new case are straightforward. Abigail Fisher, a white high-school student in Sugar Land, Texas, was rejected for admission to the University of Texas-Austin. The state requires all students in the top ten per cent of their high-school classes to be admitted to state universities, but students who fall just short of that threshold, like Fisher, are admitted according to a formula; race is one factor in the equation. Fisher’s lawsuit is based on a claim that any consideration of race by a university in admissions violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The case amounts to a direct challenge to the most famous decision authored by Sandra Day O’Connor during her long and consequential service on the Court. In 2003, the Court held, by a vote of five to four, that the University of Michigan Law School could consider race as one factor among many in determining whom to admit. In Grutter v. Bollinger, O’Connor said that diversity was such an important goal in American life that universities could engage in some level of race-consciousness in screening candidates. But O’Connor’s opinion imposed a time limit:

We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.

Now, less than a decade after her ruling, the Court appears poised to throw it out….


“SAVING OUR SONS: A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION” WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT LA TRADE TECH

This is from the press release on the event, which is sponsored by a bunch of good folks:

California Community Foundation invites parents, educators, employers, community, civic and religious leaders, and all concerned members of the public to participate in a historic town hall on the need to change and improve conditions for Black male youth in Los Angeles that are adversely affecting their futures.

Twenty years after the civil unrest in Los Angeles, Black male youth have significant challenges related to their educational and employment prospects. Additionally, while Black male youth make up 10 percent of L.A. County’s youth population, they comprise approximately 33 percent of all youth under probation supervision.

The event on May 2 is supported by Brotherhood Crusade, Community Coalition, Liberty Hill Foundation, Los Angeles Urban league, Youth Justice Coalition, Youth Mentoring Connection, and the Office of the Mayor, City of Los Angeles, and will feature a personal appearance by actor and activist Larenz Tate (TV’s “Rescue Me”, and films such as, “Ray”, “Love Jones”, “Crash”, and “Menace II Society”).

The event will take place on Wednesday, May 2, at 6 p.m., in the North Tent at Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, 1937 Grand Ave., Los Angeles 90015


Photo by David Maxwell, European Pressphoto Agency / May 1, 2012

LYRICS FOR “A JACK OF ALL TRADES”

…after the jump

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Education, FBI, How Appealing, LAUSD, Occupy, Supreme Court | No Comments »

California Prison Pop. Dropped by 8,000—So, Do We Have a Crime Wave Yet?

December 18th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon



NOTE: LIGHT POSTING TODAY—DUE (HAPPILY) TO HOLIDAY SLOWDOWN….BUT….

    NEW JAILS/LASD STORY COMING TOMORROW


ANYBODY GOT EARLY SIGN POSTS ON CRIME AND REALIGNMENT?

KPPC’S Julie Small reports that California’s prison population has dropped by 8000, mostly in response to California’s realignment strategy that began on Oct 1 and has resulted in the transfer of thousands of prisoners from state lock-up facilities to California’s counties.

Here’s a clip from Small’s report:

The number of inmates in California prisons has dropped by 8,000 since “realignment” took effect Oct. 1. Court papers state officials filed Thursday indicate the change. Officials reported the new numbers Thursday under a federal court order to reduce crowding in the prisons.

In its monthly status report to the court, officials said the state prison population dropped by 8,218 between Oct. 5 and Dec. 7.

California prison officials say the transfer of low-level felons to county officials that began in October will allow the state to meet a court-ordered reduction a month after a Dec. 27 deadline.

The state’s prison population has declined from a record high of 173,000 in 2006 to the current population of 135,000. But many prisons remain packed with almost twice the number of inmates they were designed to hold….

University of Ohio Law prof Doug Berman, of Sentencing, Law and Policy, also noted the drop and wondered in a post, if California was experiencing a “big new crime wave in California in recent months?”

The court order resulting in these prison reductions is the one upheld by the Supreme Courtin Plata earlier this year despite strenuous objections and dire warnings of Justices Alito and Scalia and others about a likely spike in crime as a result. I am thus wondering, given that it appears that California is going to be soon complying with this court order, if there is developing evidence of a new crime wave.

The question is particularly relevant in Los Angeles where approximately 40 percent of the “realigned” prisoners have landed, and will continue to land, causing a list of city officials like DA Steve Cooley and others to predict that crime will go up.

Admittedly, it hasn’t been all that long—nevertheless, do we have any early indications, one way or the other?

(NOTE: I can tell you that, far, overall crime is down this year over 2010, but I don’t, as yet, have a month by month breakdown for these past few months.

As Berman points out, nuanced analysis of crime stats would likely tell us a lot, because not every county and/or municipality is handling realignment the same way.

I sincerely hope that there is an on-going effort to track the public safety impact of the prison population reductions in California, especially because it seems that different localities are responding to the influx of former prisoners in different ways. The process of prison realignment is thus creating a kind of post-prison community reentry natural experiment, and I would expect spikes in crime to vary in different localities based on both the nature of the offenders returning to the community and also how the communities are responding to the return of these offenders.

Only a few months into the realignment plan, it is surely to early to have clear or conclusive evidence on the public safety consequences of Plata and its aftermath. Still I am very eager to hear any early reports, especially from anyone actively working on these issues, about what we might know on this front so far.

Yep. Me too.


60 MINUTES OCCUPIES THE BANKS AND THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

In the past months, CBS’s 60 Minutes has done a couple of excellent, aggressive and utterly enraging reports by Scott Pelley on the banking business, the mortgage crisis, and the like—asking repeatedly why the Justice Department hasn’t filed charges one any of these folks.

The most recent such report was this past Sunday.

The Occupy movement could do worse than to study these segments for talking points.


TEXAS MAN CONVICTED OF MURDERING WIFE, FREED AFTER 25 YEARS – PROSECUTORS WITHHELD CRUCIAL EVIDENCE

The LA Times Molly Hennessy-Fiske and David G. Savage have the story. Here’s how it opens:

The case of a grocery store clerk wrongly convicted of murdering his wife has rocked the legal system across Texas, and not just because an innocent man served 25 years of a life sentence.

Supporters of Michael Morton, who was set free in October, say he might never been convicted if a prominent prosecutor had shared significant evidence with the defense at the time of the trial.

“Mr. Morton was the victim of serious prosecutorial misconduct that … completely ripped apart his family,” said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project in New York, which represented Morton in his appeal.

On Monday, Morton and his lawyers plan to ask District Judge Sid Harle to take action against the lead prosecutor in the case, Ken Anderson, now a county judge.

The case highlights what critics say has become a recurring problem in Texas and across the nation: prosecutors concealing evidence that could undercut their cases.

Yeah. Sign me on as one of those “critics.”

Posted in CDCR, criminal justice, Occupy, Realignment | 1 Comment »

Killing Wolves, LAPD Used Private Security “Shirts”…& More LASD News

December 9th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


WLA STORY ON UNDERSHERIFF PAUL TANAKA GETS MORE SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES AND SUPERVISORS TO COME FORWARD

The 3rd part of WitnessLA’s Dangerous Jails series by the very excellent Matt Fleischer has caused more LASD insiders –many still working now for the department—to come forward with new information. “We want a department we can be proud of,” said one supervisor I spoke with Thursday night.

Yep. Us too. So please keep reaching out with your stories.


MAYOR CAN’T KEEP STORY STRAIGHT ON BIG BUCKS SETTLEMENT DEAL WITH OUSTED HACLA CHIEF RUDY MONTIEL

Kevin Roderick at LA Observed caught these dueling stories.

And, as the mess gets ever worse, we learned Thursday night from the LA Times that the interim chief was just asked to resign too. (Thankfully, no word on a giant golden parachute for this guy though).

Meanwhile, So Cal Connected, which has owned this story, keeps up the pressure, along with Controller Wendy Greuel.


LAPD USING DOWNTOWN PRIVATE SECURITY FIRM TO HELP POLICE OCCUPY PROTESTORS?

The LA Weekly’s Dennis Romero reports that, yes, as a matter of fact, the LAPD has used private security guards in some of its Occupy enforcement, but that it’s not typical. (Good thing, because it’s a sort of cringe-making notion.)

Anyway, read the story. Here’s how it opens.

In video of a police confrontation with Occupy L.A. protesters outside a Bank of America branch downtown over the weekend a few private security guards are seen, batons-in-hand, helping the LAPD form a skirmish line.

In fact officers can be seen pushing security guards into strategic positions as they face off against the so-called 99-percenters. The security employees push people back with batons and aim the business ends of the weapons at citizens. At least one guard even appears to participate in the arrest of demonstrator Anthony Loscano.

What gives? Did the LAPD just deputize a group of civilians? LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman tells the Weekly:

I have no idea why they were with us. Typically we do not integrate and mix resources when we’re in a tactical situation like that because of training issues and stuff like that.

These aren’t just run-of-the-mill security guards though. They’re the notorious “shirts,” employees of downtown’s business improvement districts, organizations that band together to increase security, clean up trash and lobby the city for improvements….

PS: Romero and his colleagues at the The Weekly’s Informer blog, Simone Wilson and Gene Maddaus, have been very much on top of things with their Occupy coverage, so keep an eye on them as the stories continue to unfold.


A WAR ON WOLVES?

In Thursday’s LA Times, sociology professor and author J. William Gibson has an op ed about what he calls The New War on Wolves. In it he gives up to date wolf killing and population stats for the gray wolves that were removed last spring from the endangered species list. (If you remember, the wolves weren’t delisted by the Department of the Interior, but by Congress (that notoriously knowledgeable group of wildlife biologists) that managed to get enough votes for the delisting provision only by attaching it as a rider to a must pass budget package last April.

Gibson explains the results—and also attempts to explain the the absolute blood lustt that seems to motivate certain hunters when it comes to killing Canis Lupus—an enmity that is not present in the attitudes toward other large predators like mountain lions and grizzlies.

Here’s how the essay opens:

As of Wednesday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported that 154 of its estimated 750 wolves had been “harvested” this year. Legal hunting and trapping — with both snares to strangle and leg traps to capture — will continue through the spring. And if hunting fails to reduce the wolf population sufficiently — to less than 150 wolves — the state says it will use airborne shooters to eliminate more.

In Montana, hunters will be allowed to kill up to 220 wolves this season (or about 40% of the state’s roughly 550 wolves). To date, hunters have taken only about 100 wolves, prompting the state to extend the hunting season until the end of January. David Allen, president of the powerful Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, has said he thinks hunters can’t do the job, and he is urging the state to follow Idaho’s lead and “prepare for more aggressive wolf control methods, perhaps as early as summer 2012.”

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead recently concluded an agreement with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to save 100 to 150 wolves in lands near Yellowstone National Park. But in the remaining 80% of the state, wolves can be killed year-round because they are considered vermin. Roughly 60% of Wyoming’s 350 wolves will become targeted for elimination.

What is happening to wolves now, and what is planned for them, doesn’t really qualify as hunting. It is an outright war…..

Read the rest.

By the way, as those longtime WLA readers know, I am not the least emotionally objective on the issue of wolf hunting in the U.S. In Montana, I’ve observed wolves in the wild with biologists, and been with other biologists when they’ve tracked radio collared wolves from the air. My son and I shared our home and lives for 16 and a half years with a wolf hybrid, the late great Loup-Loup. Now Lily-the 15 month old rescue wolf dog is at my feet as I type.

Yet, I realize that—practically speaking— predator species like the wolf have to be managed and, as much as I hate it, that sometimes includes hunting. But so much of what drives this issue is counterfactual and just plain ignorant. Yet it’s such a hot button topic that politicians have kowtowed to it.

I am at least thankful that, as Gibson reports, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has had the good sense to work out some kind of nominal protection for the wolf packs in and around Yellowstone Park, thus protecting the Yellowstone Wolf Project, started in 1994, which is unique in all the world, but was in part destroyed in 2008 when wolf hunting was, at first, clumsily reopened.


60 MINUTES ADDS A LEGAL ANALYST TO ITS ROSTER

Evidently with the departure of the late Andy Rooney, CBS’s 60 Minutes felt it now has room for an analyst who….you know…analyzes things, that, like, matter. So they’ve added legal analyst Andrew Cohen to the mix. This seems like a good thing.


SUPREMES HEAR MONTANA’S WHO-OWNS-THE-RIVERS DISPUTE

The AP has a good report on it. (As does the PBS Newshour actually.)

Here’s a clip from Mark Sherman and Matt Volz writing for the AP.

A Supreme Court dominated by Easterners tried to make sense Wednesday of a Western water dispute.

The court heard arguments in a lawsuit between a power company and the state of Montana over who owns the riverbeds beneath 10 dams sitting on three Montana rivers.

The state says it’s owed more than $50 million in back rent and interest from the company, PPL Montana.

For an answer, the court is looking back as far as the travels of Lewis and Clark more than 200 years ago.

The outcome could affect property rights, public access and wildlife management along Montana’s rivers, as well as those in other states.

The power company is appealing a Montana Supreme Court ruling that the state owns the submerged land beneath the dams. The decision turned in large part on that court’s findings that the three rivers were navigable when Montana became a state, despite the presence of significant waterfalls on two of the waterways.

The justices were dealing with unfamiliar issues in an area without much in the way of prior decisions to guide them.

Justice Samuel Alito, from Trenton, N.J., repeatedly asked where to turn for help.

“I’m not a sailor,” said Bronx-born Justice Sonia Sotomayor, explaining that she’s not especially conversant in nautical terminology.

Sotomayor was trying to figure out whether it matters in deciding on navigability how far someone has to go to get around a waterfall….

A decision is expected by June.

Posted in LAPD, Occupy, wolves | 4 Comments »

More Stories about the Occupy LA Arrests—and the LASD Aftermath

December 6th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon



Although most of the police handled themselves well on Occupy LA Eviction Night,
more stories continue to trickle out about less than sterling moments on the part of the Los Angeles Police Department when it came to those who were arrested—and the behavior of Sheriff’s deputies when the “Arrestables” were put on LASD buses for transport to jail.

On buses, people were reportedly kept handcuffed for hours without being allowed a bathroom breaks and other rights and courtesies that are basic to an arrestee.

Then, there is the matter of the $5000 – $10,000 bails set by the City Attorney’s office, which could and should have been a simple release on one’s own recognizance.

Two stories in the LA Weekly have a lot of the bus details-—one by Dennis Romero, a second by Occupy arrestee, Matt Kresling.

Also, a story by attorney Ernest A. Canning on the Brad Blog has additional details.

Plus, ExiledOnLine’s founder Yasha Levine was one of those arrested and has his own tale worth reading.

Here are some clips:

From Romero’s LA Weekly story:

Allegations that Occupy L.A. detainees were not allowed to use the restroom for hours as they waited on buses headed to jails are being checked out this week by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, says spokesman Steve Whitmore. Accusations of rough and inhumane treatment of Occupy L.A. arrestees funneled into LA Weekly over the weekend.

A few said that police did not let suspects detained on buses last Wednesday to use the bathroom for up to 7 hours as they awaited processing, causing some to wet themselves and worse. Whitmore said the department, which handled transportation for 276 inmates, was aware of the complaints.

Journalist Yasha Levine, arrested as part of the protest, told the Weekly …

… that at least one busload of protesters endured this treatment (he also reports it here). A female acquaintance, he told us, “wasn’t allowed to to the bathroom.”

Sheriff’s spokesman Whitmore told the Weekly:

Our people are saying they were on the buses for four hours and there was some confusion about whether they were going to [the LAPD's] Van Nuys [jail] or Parker Center [jail].

He says buses were turned away from Parker Center and then again from Van Nuys, forcing deputies to return the detainees to downtown facilities. That’s about an hour ride counting road time alone.

Whitmore called the department’s response “a human-level inquiry” and said:

We’re going to see what happened to see if we can do it better next time.

However he indicated some of the responsibility here was the LAPD’s, and that the deputies were only providing transportation at that department’s direction.

From Matt Kresling’s story:

Around this time, the occupants of the largest tree fort on the plaza arrived to much cheering. They’d held out the longest, but arrived with various bloody welts on their arms to show for it. The police had approached atop the cherry-picker and ordered them to raise their hands. They complied, and only then were shot with beanbag rounds, they told us, which were obviously not the harmless things their names implied. To the LAPD’s credit, everyone with injuries was taken for interviews with Internal Affairs and photographed.

From the Brad blog:

Much of the good will and plaudits earned by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck for their “minimal use of force” tactics employed to clear OccupyLA demonstrators from City Hall Park earlier this week has been quickly squandered in the hours and days since. The BRAD BLOG has learned that hundreds of peaceful arrestees were kept in often deplorable conditions in the hours following their apprehension.

According to new interviews with some of the arrestees following their release, men and women alike were held without charges for hours on end, forced to urinate in their seats on a holding bus while handcuffed, cut off from attorneys, medical supplies, and drinking water, and locked away with punitively high bails while being deprived of both humane and Constitutional rights.

At this hour, almost three full days after their arrest at the OccupyLA encampment in front of Los Angeles City Hall, more than 200 of the peaceful demonstrators detained by LAPD in the evening on Tuesday and early morning hours on Wednesday — many of them who were not even participating in the Occupation — are still being held in jail pending $5,000 bail for their misdemeanor detentions, as detailed by radio station KPCC. Approximately fifty people have been released, some after posting bail, others for medical reasons.

KPCC went on to report that on Thursday, only 19 of those people had yet to be charged. The City Attorney’s office said that, depending on the charge, some would face bail as high as $20,000.

On Friday, the Sheriff’s department announced that they were investigating the bus-related accusations.


MEANWHILE, POLICE AND OCCUPY D.C. CLASHED ON SUNDAY

Here’s the Wa Po report.


NOTE: Lighter than usual blogging today because of other pressing projects— including the next Dangerous Jails story.


Photo by Bret Hartman

Posted in LAPD, LASD, Occupy | No Comments »

Occupy LA: Tuesday Night: LAPD Removes the Occupiers (Mostly) Peacefully

November 29th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon

3:25: THE MAYOR AND THE CHIEF OF POLICE COME OUT AND SAY A FEW WORDS

Villaraigosa said of Chief Charlie Beck: “He’s someone who understands that Constitutional policing is the only way to go for Los Angeles.”

Charlie Beck said that 1400 officers took part, and there were around 200 arrests. (There were 292 arrests, as it turns out, a great many of whom, cops and Occupiers both say, intended to be arrested. Last night Occupiers were repeatedly asking each other, “Are you arrestable?”—meaning, are you willing to be arrested or do you need to go home to put the kids to bed or feed the dog?)

“I’ve never been prouder of Los Angeles police officers than I am tonight,” Villaraigosa said.


2:40 am: The tree dwellers have been (sadly) plucked and the night is winding down. Well done, Occupy LA! Well done, LAPD!

(For those desirous of a more detailed account, my Twitter stream gives a fuller view of the night.)

And check out Kevin Roderick’s coverage.

By the way, one of the big stars among citizen journalists to have emerged from the Occupy movement is Spencer Mills who tweets and broadcasts under the name OakFoSho. He was great tonight!


12:59: Arrests definitely taking place. But slowly, as the tents are slowly and carefully dismantled. The cops have been very disciplined, actually, at least thus far.


12:26: UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY DECLARED, OCCUPIERS HAVE 10 MINUTES TO COMPLY… Only problem: the 10 minute warning was given around 15 times at various intervals.

Fox 11 reporter chick to an LAPD spokesperson regarding the plethora of 10 min. warnings: “At what point does this become the boy who cried wolf?”


12:14 am – POLICE POURING OUT SOUTH DOOR OF CITY HALL

Now at 12:20 am – the police are moving into the crowd. The mood of the crowd has changed. Everyone seems to sense that the the eviction is about to commence.


12:02 am – LAPD COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH SAID THAT PRESS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED INTO PARK ONCE AN UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY HAS BEEN DECLARED

Okay, that’s the tip off. That’s what will be the signal to move in. The LAPD will declare an unlawful assembly. And they WILL declare an unlawful assembly tonight. When? We don’t know. But tonight is the night.


11:56: LAPD HAS REPORTEDLY ISSUED A FINAL WARNING. (Or something of that nature. Trying to confirm. The TV folks certainly aren’t reporting any such thing. But they’re five steps behind through all of this. No, nothing seems to be happening. False alarm.)

11:28 pm: The OccupyLA crowd, plus onlookers and press, is estimated to be between 1500 to 2000.

10:58 pm – COMMANDER SMITH AFFIRMS THAT A PERIMETER HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED AROUND OCCUPY LA ALLOWING NO CARS IN

Commander Smith, the LAPD spokesperson, is saying that he’s “really optimistic that this will be peaceful.”


LA Times Live Feed from building to street. And here’s the CBS aerial stream.


10:41 FOLKS IN PINK SHIRTS ARE “PEACEKEEPERS” FROM OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE

10:31 pm: LAPD officers have arrived on a fleet of big buses.

10:23 pm: FINDING LAWYERS: Lawyers from National Lawyers’ Guild and legal observers are reportedly wearing lime green baseball caps.


9:30 pm – LAPD is on a tactical alert. A raid could come anytime after 10:30 pm. At least that’s the word going around. It isn’t officially confirmed that tonight is the night. But everyone seems to know. This is it. Game on.

Watch UStream for a view of the encampment.


Lady cop photo by Wendy Carrillo

Tree people photo by Gigi Graciette

Posted in Civil Rights, LAPD, Occupy | 15 Comments »

Occupy LA Showdown: Eviction at 12:01 Doesn’t Happen, Monday Morning, Park Still Occupied (A LIVE-ISH BLOG)

November 27th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


9:23 AM MONDAY: It is unclear what will happen next.
But congratulations to LAPD and Occupy LA for a peaceful night. GREAT photo from the LA Times’ Rick Loomis expresses it all.


6:30 AM MONDAY: the live streamers are still up, giddy, having coffee, and asking for Superfood Smoothies and donuts. There were a handful of arrests when a few people threw a bamboo-edged sword (or some such thing) at police.

People have been allowed to return to their tents. “It’s a victory,” say organizers.


2:01: AFTER MANY RUMORS OF WHAT KIND OF ACTION THE LAPD WOULD TAKE, 2 HOURS AFTER THE DEADLINE, OCCUPIERS WERE PEACEFUL AND LAPD WAS RESPECTFUL AND RESTRAINED…

If stragglers started provoking arrest by waylaying cars, the police were willing to step in, but otherwise, at just after 2 am, the mood on both sides was restrained,. Both Occupiers and cops seemed to be satisfied with themselves for having performed well.

PS: Hmmm. I wonder if the Teepee that has just appeared in the street will be a problem.


1:42 AM: POLICE ARE SPREADING THE WORD: GET OUT OF THE STREET AND BACK INTO THE PARK AND YOU WON’T BE ARRESTED. STAY IN THE STREET AND GET ARRESTED.

Some listen, some don’t.


1:01 AM: DRAWING HEARTS AND PERIMETER MARCHES

Ongoing streaming video now is covering a group trying to organize a “perimeter march” around the park. The group spontaneously decides to draw hearts on their hands so if there’s a problem with police, they can hold up their palms—thus revealing the hearts.

“It’s a great visual,” says one of the organizers and whips out her red Sharpie, which is quickly passed around. At first a couple people draw their hearts incorrectly so that they will appear upside down when palms are held in the outstretched “stop” position. But eventually everyone gets it right. But they don’t leave to march. There are too many distractions.

There is talk about whether gas masks or scarves scented with vinegar are passed out to combat any pepper spray or worse.

And the beat goes on.


LAPD NOW ON TACTICAL ALERT

Commander Andy Smith originally said no. But evidently things have changed. /strong> Now the LA Times reporters confirmed it.


12:27 AM: OKAY, WELL, 12:01 HAS PASSED, AND….

….The main area of possible conflict is in the street, at First and Broadway and near the LA Times, while cops stand nearby in riot gear. The OLA organizers are trying to get the straying children to go back to the park instead of being blatantly provocative.

And two of the best live streamers in the street are here and here.



11:05 PM: AS THE DEADLINE APPROACHES, CONFUSION AND TENSION RISES

The seemingly conflicting messages from the Powers That Be have people on edge as may be seen in the live streaming.


10:20 PM: THE OLA GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS OVER AND THE CONSENSUS IS DEFINITELY TO STAY

The consensus among those 1000 or so milling around the General Assembly Sunday night was that Occupy LA is going to stay put. (The General Assembly—or GA—is the nightly meeting and also the voting body for the Occupy movement. )

I guess we’ll see what how that staying put will play out when it comes into contact with the city’s park closing order after midnight.



UPDATE – 9:31: TALKED TO LAPD’S COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH AND HE MADE THE 12:01 PM DEADLINE SOUND A BIT….UM…FIRMER THAN THE MAYOR’S CHARACTERIZATION

Commander Andrew Smith made some televised statements tonight about the grounds around the capital closing at 12:01 and intimated that closure meant closure—which did not sound like the gradual process alluded to by the mayor earlier in the evening. Smith who, in addition to being head of LAPD media relations, is the former head of the department’s Central Division, the downtown LA police station. He also was a commanding officer for Central Bureau, which covers downtown as well as adjacent areas of the city. In other words, Smith knows the area in question better than most on the command staff.

When I talked with Smith on the phone in order to try to get some clarification regarding his press statement, he mostly reiterated what he’d said earlier, that the department wasn’t going to share its planned tactics beforehand, but that everyone had had plenty of warning that the grounds were going to be closed for repair, etc. etc.

When Smith finished, I asked him whether or not he actually knew what the planned tactics were going to be.

“Yes. I do,” he said. Then laughed. “And I can’t tell you.” I tried various other weaseling techniques without success. He said he’d chosen his words for the press statement very carefully, in order not to say too much or too little.

Smith invited me to call back after midnight. I said I’d call.


UPDATE – 8:27 PM: ….AND YOU TOO CAN BE THERE FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR LAPTOP, IPAD, PHONE, ET AL….WITH OCCUPY’S LIVE STREAMING

Right now my favorite live stream is here at OccupyFreedomLA, which bounces from reportorial coverage to more personal chatter—both good. But there are a lot of live streams, so take your pick.


UPDATE 7:53: MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA MAKES CLEAR THAT THE EVICTION WILL BE A GRADUAL PROCESS IN STATEMENT RELEASED TONIGHT

In Sunday night’s statement, the Mayor described a step-by-step process clearly designed to prevent confrontation.

“As Chief Beck has made clear, though the park will officially close tonight at 12:01 a.m., the department will allow campers ample time to remove their belongings peacefully and without disruption.”

Whether it will actually prevent confrontation remains to be seen. We’ll have to wait until all the steps are taken and still some of the campers don’t leave, which sounds like it may occur on Monday.


UPDATE – 7:37 PM: MIDNIGHT RIDAZZ HAVE CALLED FOR A “BIKE SWARM” TO PROTECT OCCUPYLA

The popular group of bicycle enthusiasts known for organizing a twice a month midnight ride that often draws a thousand or more riders, has called for a “bike swarm” around OLA, with riders gathering at 9 pm in anticipation of the 12:01 deadline.


UPDATE – 7:15, BILL ROSENDAHL TWEETS VIDEO OF HIS SPEECH TO OCCUPY LA THIS MORNING


The speech—augmented by the “human mic”—seems to get a good response until he gets to the part about leaving city hall.


UPDATE 6:50: LAPD MEDIA RELATIONS SAYS “NOTHING HAS CHANGED FROM THE ORIGINAL PLAN, BUT….

….When asked what exactly the original plan was, the LAPD Media Relations officer said the department planned to “observe and monitor the situation.” When pressed further, he confirmed that by “the situation” he meant the Occupy LA eviction “situation.”

“They have their orders,” he said, “and the department is in constant contact with the Occupy organizers,…and we’re observing and monitoring…”

All of which doesn’t seem to contradict what Captain Rodriguez said.

So…. we’ll see.


UPDATE – 6:40 pm:

I just spoke to the LAPD’s Sergeant Mathes, who is the watch commander on at the department’s downtown-located Central Division tonight and I asked him about Rodriguez’s statement. He said he had no clue, that the decisions regarding Occupy LA’s eviction were all being made at a command staff level. Central Division would be mostly business as usual tonight, unless needed, he said.


UPDATE: 5:10 PM

LAPD CAPTAIN RODRIGUEZ SAYS NO ACTUAL RAID SUNDAY NIGHT

According to LAPD Captain Jorge Rodgriguez, head of the department’s Newton Division, who was speaking with some Occupy LA organizers Sunday afternoon on the video linked below, there will be no aggressive police action until at least first light Monday morning. However Rodriguez specified that he wasn’t in on the planning and that things were still in flux.

The conversation with Captain Rodriguez and more is captured on this US Stream video recorded at 4:30 pm Sunday. Tune in.


“Come Stand In Solidarity at City Hall Tonight 11.27.11 7:30pm” reads the notice posted a little after noon on Sunday at the Occupy LA Facebook page—a half day before the scheduled eviction from City Hall grounds that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced would take place at exactly 12:01 a.m. Sunday night.

The posting continues with advice for all potential participants in whatever happens Sunday night. To wit:

Dear Occupiers, We love you! We are a peaceful movement and regardless of any attempt to disband us, we remain resolved to end Corporatocracy and to restore U.S. Democracy.

Dear LAPD, Please know that we recognize you are part of the 99%. Please remain peaceful and respectful.

Dear MSM, We recognize you are part of the 99%. Please bring on board lights, long lenses and lots of batteries. Ask for overtime in advance.

Dear Supporters, Please bring your love and support as well as recording devices.

See you at Solidarity Park

More to come (obviously).


Photo of OccupyLA Panorama by Eric Spiegelman

Posted in Occupy | 4 Comments »

Short Takes: Presidential Pardons, 9th Circuit on Grizzlies, & Bratton on Pepper Patrol, The LA Times on Jails Building

November 23rd, 2011 by Celeste Fremon



GOOD NEWS, OBAMA ISSUES FIRST COMMUTATION OF HIS PRESIDENCY. BAD NEWS: WHAT TOOK HIM SO LONG? AND WHY JUST ONE?

Late Monday, the President pardoned five people and issued one commutation.

This is all very nice, of course. But many of us who follow such things wonder why he has only pardoned a grand total of 22 people (plus that single commutation) while by the same time in his presidency, Jack Kennedy had pardoned or commuted the sentences of 600 Americans. Why, people ask, has Obama has has left such an important presidential power lying nearly fallow?

Julie Stewart, the President, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is one of those who thinks Obama could have done a lot more by now. She writes for the Huffington Post. Here’s how her column begins:

This week, President Barack Obama won’t just be pardoning turkeys. He decided to throw some human beings in the mix, too. He pardoned five people, restoring their civil rights, and even issued his first presidential commutation to Eugenia Jennings, reducing her sentence so that she can return home to Missouri to recover from cancer and watch her daughter graduate high school.

Her commutation is long overdue.

In 2001, Jennings was a survivor of domestic abuse and had a long-standing struggle with drug addiction. She began selling small quantities of crack cocaine to support herself and her three children. When she sold a mere 13.9 grams of crack cocaine to a police informant, Jennings received a 22-year sentence. No guns were involved; no one was hurt.

Jennings spent her decade in federal prison conquering her addiction, educating herself, and speaking publicly to students, warning them of the consequences of drug use. Earlier this year, Jennings was diagnosed with cancer. She has received chemotherapy treatments in prison and shows positive signs of an eventual recovery.

Jennings’s commutation is no fluke — her pro bono legal team from the Washington, D.C. firm of Crowell & Moring built a wide network of supporters and advocates, including Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). Sen. Durbin first learned about Eugenia’s outrageous sentence when her brother, Cedric Parker, testified before Congress. Sen. Durbin and Jennings’s lawyers fought tirelessly for her release for three years.

Unfortunately, the use of the pardon power has become seen as such political anathema that this kind of herculean effort — and lengthy wait — is what it takes to get justice. It wasn’t always this way. President Obama has now been in office as long as President John F. Kennedy, but Kennedy granted over 600 pardons and commutations during that time. President Obama has granted 22 pardons and one single commutation…..


9TH CIRCUIT RULES THAT YELLOWSTONE GRIZ MUST STAY ON THREATENED LIST FOR NOW

In 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lifted Endangered Species Act protections from the grizzlies scattered through Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.—contending that they were a recovery success story. However, US District Judge Donald Malloy granted summary judgment that vacated the feds’ delisting plans at least for the 500 or so bears in the Greater Yellowstone area. A three judge panel ruling for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, concurring with advocates who said that the Fish and Wildlife folks had not adequately guarded against changes in circumstances that could once again reduce the bears’ numbers.

Reuters has more.

The LA Times also has a good story on the griz issue.

PS: Since I spend some time in West Glacier, MT, every summer, an area that like greater Yellowstone is grizzly central, I’ve observed bear management up close for nearly 30 years. It’s a delicate matter. I’ve also been able to observe my share of grizzlies of various sizes, ages and genders, over those same years. It’s a privilege I treasure. Thus I’m personally deeply grateful to the three judges of the 9th Circuit panel, and also to Judge Malloy before them, for erring on the side of caution when it comes to protecting the great bear.


BILL BRATTON ET AL HIRED TO INVESTIGATE UC DAVIS PEPPER SPRAYING DEBACLE

Does the UC System really need former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton and his New York-based Kroll security consulting firm in order to aggressively investigate the insanely shocking pepper spraying at UC Davis? Uh, no, it’s a bit of overspray.…uh overkill.

On the other hand, one could also argue that it’s a great PR move designed to communicate that UC President Mark G. Yudof is taking this really, really, really seriously.

Which is good.

As long as the price Bill and group charge isn’t too high.

Larry Gordon of the LA Times has more.


NO $1.4 BILLION TO BUILD AND RENOVATE JAILS UNTIL SHERIFF BACA GETS HIS EXISTING HOUSE IN ORDER, SAYS THE LA TIMES

Good call, Times editorial board! (This is, by the way, the second good jails-related editorial from the Times in the last few days. There was also this on Tuesday.)

Here’re a couple of clips from Wednesday’s editorial on the matter:

In the coming weeks, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to decide whether to approve a $1.4-billion jail construction project that would help ease overcrowding at Men’s Central Jail and prevent the early release of some inmates. The county’s chief executive and Sheriff Lee Baca argue that the plan, which calls for rebuilding one facility and expanding a second, would make the nation’s largest jail system safer and cheaper to operate.

It’s hard to argue with the need or the logic. The Men’s Central building is so dilapidated and so overcrowded that in 2006, U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson described conditions as “not consistent with human values.” Renovations would make it safer for deputies as well as for inmates. What is questionable, however, is whether Baca should be given new or refurbished jails when he’s so clearly struggling to run the ones he has.

[BIG SNIP]

Yes, the county’s jails need help, and Men’s Central needs to be replaced. But the Sheriff’s Department should demonstrate that it can properly operate the jails already under its control before it asks taxpayers to spend another $1.4 billion.

Posted in bears and alligators, Board of Supervisors, How Appealing, jail, LA County Board of Supervisors, LA County Jail, LASD, Obama, Occupy, Sheriff Lee Baca, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

OCCUPY AMAZON: Customer “Reviews” get Peppery and Political

November 22nd, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


As you will easily discern, the above video documents the troubling and now iconic event that took place at UC Davis on Friday, November 18.

In response, today, Tuesday November 22, an “event” of a digital nature occurred in one of Amazon’s product commentary streams.

To see what I’m talking about follow this link. And do so immediately, I tell you!

A guy named @PhillipAnderson says he started the whole thing. I have not verified this, but it it IS true….Go Phillip.

(Be sure to read the comments on the comments.)

Posted in Occupy, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

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