On Wednesday night LAPD Chief Charlie Beck addressed a very angry crowd of about 300 at the John H. Liechty Middle School in Westlake after two night of protests that turned violent. (Here’s the LA Times report. And here’s the AP’s report.)
The meeting had been called to help diffuse the anger over the fatal shooting by police of immigrant worker Manuel Jamines, 37, who was drunk and wielding what was reported to be a 3-inch serrated switch blade.
Residents say that, knife or no knife, Jamines was a well-known local man who often drank too much but who was known not to be dangerous. LAPD spokespeople have countered that Jamines had plenty of opportunity to drop his weapon, what with cops pointing guns at him and shouting in two languages, but that he did not, and instead lunged aggressively at officers.
The truth likely lies somewhere between those two poles.
Whatever, the case, the community’s upset can no longer be palmed off on agitators but appears to be genuine.
On the other hand, Beck has, to his credit, made a large effort to be present and out front on this incident.
In addition, new LAPD Inspector General Nicole Bershon also attended the meeting, which was also a smart move in that is one more signal that the investigation will be serious.
Yet, those at the meeting were evidently not calmed by the officials.
KNBC TV reporter Angie Crouch was tweeting live from the meeting. Among her last few tweets are these:
Some Westlake residents accuse Lapd of harassing minorities. Inspector General promises a fair investigation into police shooting
One Former Westlake resident praises cops for making neighborhood safer.. Crowd boos her.
Guatamalan consulate calls for An end to violence & asks community to allow investigation to unfold.
Lapd Chf says “we don’t train cops to take knives away from people” but promises a fair review of shooting. Crowd boos
At 8:30 p.m., KFI reported that the police were blocking the streets in Westlake, obviously expecting yet another night of furious demonstrations. So much for defusing the tensions.
May everyone—residents and police—stay safe.