The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) has been under fire for years for violating people’s rights, struggling with corruption, and so much more. Despite proclamations of reform (Remember the Ramparts Police station beatings? How about body cams that were called for and never purchased?)
Now, with two recent shootings in the city of Compton, on top of more than 600 under DA Jackie Lacey’s and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s tenure, that have drawn community outrage, the LASD was marked by the ambush shooting of two of its sheriffs over the weekend. During tense protests being documented by local journalists, sheriffs violently attacked and arrested a local reporter named Josie Huang (despite her display of press credentials) and dismantled a protest camp across from City Hall, ostensibly in retaliation for the shootings.
The LASD is symbolic of racist and violent policing… their, and the nationwide police counter campaign against the millions who oppose cop killing, involves attacking peaceful protestors and turning all protests into confrontations to keep tens of thousands from participating, fearing beating or arrest.
Carl Douglas, the spokesperson for the Dijon Kizzee family spoke with this reporter by phone. “I am part of the “Dream Team” of trial lawyers will focus on policeman misconduct cases.
The problem in the county and with the LA Sheriff’s Department has been the focus of investigation for more than 50 years. Most recently, of gangs operating within the Sheriff’s Department called executioners, Grim Reaper’s 3000 boys, etc. they say they are social clubs, but there really gangs. Sheriff Alex Villanueva is fighting with the Board of Supervisors to save his own embattled skin. He and others have given inconsistent official statements about the murder of Dijon Kizzee. His death is endemic is my community of Compton where I was raised which has always been terrorized by Sheriffs who drive up and down the community terrorizing us.”
Speaking about the specifics of the Kizzee killing, he added “No police action justifies 19 shots into an unarmed man. The audiotapes show a first volley of shots, a pause, and then a hail of gunfire like a shootout at the OK corral. Sheriffs are supposed to use deadly force only when imminently threatened.
Further to emphasize his point, “In this case, they have changed the story multiple times. The family will file a $25 million wrongful damages lawsuit to expose the discourage of gangs in LASD because in this case it sounds like an execution. We will take depositions of eyewitnesses that refute the police report. Outrage is well spoken. LA Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey’s office has had 622 opportunities over the past few years to prosecute police for violations of misconduct but have done it only once. Part of the problem is the strong police union which supports her.”
When asked about the role of National Lawyers Guild lawyers at protest actions against police brutality and cop killings, Ms. Anderson-Barker, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles NLG told this reporter “The NLG gives rights orientations for protesters before the protests, we act as legal observers at the protesters, we have a mass defense committee of pro-bono lawyers that helps with legal defense of protesters, and much more. Our members also file litigation against law enforcement for police misconduct and violating the First Amendment and Constitutional rights of protesters.
Speaking of the litigation in progress, “In the class action lawsuit that we have filed on behalf of the protestors we have lots of evidence, videos, declarations of protesters hit with rubber bullets, baton strikes, injured by tight handcuffs etc.
The class action lawsuit filed by the national lawyer is seeking a restraining order and injunction to limit the sheriff’s department use of so-called less lethal force at protests. In addition to the protesters who have been hit by these weapons, so have legal observers and journalists. The petition was filed in US District Court. September 22.
The memorandum filed with the petition says “instead of deploying these weapons in a defensive manner to protect themselves and others, the LASD has been deliberately using less lethal munitions and chemical agents in an indiscriminate and retaliatory fashion against people engaged in lawful activities, putting journalists and legal observers.”
Ms. Anderson-Barker also commented about the “several hundred attacks on journalists the media and legal observers in LA and nationally. The LA Times has reported on the KPCC journalist that was assaulted by the Sheriff’s deputies. Also, our press conference was kettled (to confine a group of demonstrators or protesters to a small area, as a method of crowd control during a demonstration.) by Sheriff’s deputies and the assembled press were outraged. One member of the press said in all his years of journalism he never seen law enforcement actually descend upon a press conference to shut it down. “
The lawsuit also seeks to stop indiscriminate use of chemical agents like tear gas and flash grenades to disperse crowds without adequate warning. Memorandum then further states that on multiple occasions no warning or dispersal order had been given even as people have retreated in runaway from the protests. LASD deputies have chased them and shot at them with rubber bullets.
One demonstrator at the Sheriff’s department protests on Labor Day was interviewed by this reporter. We shall call her G, her name withheld to protect her from police retaliation. She is part of the National Lawyers Guild class action lawsuit against cop brutality at the protests. “This was a peaceful protest and suddenly the cops started shooting us with rubber bullets and pepper balls. They broke my finger; I have a huge bruise on my back and had to get medical attention at the hospital. I am off work now and am part of the NLG lawsuit against police violence.”
As of this writing the Sheriff’s Department is not cooperating with investigations for possible violations of freedom of the press.
There continue to be regular protests at the South LA Sheriff station that have called on Sheriff Alex Villanueva to resign. An aunt of Kizze, Sequarier McCoy said “will be quiet, will shut up, as soon as we start seeing some accountability.” At the September 27 rally, Cristobal Guardardo, father of murdered Andres Guardardo told the 200 protestors in Spanish “There is a pain in my heart as the father…but I am in the struggle for justice for Andres,” to which the crowd responded Justicia! He further explained that the family was in the dark with no information coming from the sheriffs office.
An activist in the fight against cop killings is Cliff Smith, a member of The Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, Business Manager, Roofers & Waterproofers Local 36
What is the background that led up to the police killing of Dijon?
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has been increasingly hostile and isolated especially since the June 18th murder of 18-year-old Andres Guardardo by deputy Miguel Vega. The county Board of Supervisors, Compton Mayor, 2 congresswomen and dozens of community organizations have demanded intervention from CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Many are demanding Sheriff Villanueva’s ouster. The county medical examiner broke precedent to release the official autopsy in defiance of the Sheriff’s instruction for a security hold. The exposure of secret police gangs (most notably “The Executioners”) within the department set the scene leading into Dijon Kizzee being shot 15 in the back over an alleged bicycle infraction.
What is the response by the family to the killing?
The family immediately has called for the criminal prosecution of the deputies involved, and has joined other families and community organizations demanding Villanueva’s resignation and democratic, community control over the department.
What are the demonstrators calling for?
The Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, which organized protests at the South L.A. Sheriff’s Station, is demanding the implementation of an all-elected, all-civilian, Sheriff’s Department control board, with full authority over the department in all aspects at all levels. As well as murder charges for the killings of Dijon Kizzee, Andres Guardardo and Anthony Weber.
What has been the police response to the peaceful protests?
The Sheriff’s Department has met peaceful protests with force and violence on September 5, firing tear gas into an peaceful, daytime protest led by Black Lives Matter, hitting my 7 year old daughter while she was rollerskating. Dozens of arrests followed in subsequent protests.
How has the NLG been involved?
The National Lawyers’ Guild has been outstanding in providing legal observers at these actions, documenting violations of use of force policy, and initiating a class action suit against the department.
Oct. 10 Emergency National Conference to Jail Killer Cops, registration here.