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Criminal Justice

LAPD Under Scrutiny For Treatment Of Press And Demonstrators At Abortion Rights Rallies

Protesters carry signs outside the courthouse as authorities observe.
Police holding projective-bullet guns and batons move to disperse a crowd of abortion rights activists protesting after the overturning of Roe v. Wade in downtown L.A. on Friday.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images)
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Community activists and journalists are denouncing the Los Angeles Police Department's treatment of protesters and the press at abortion rights marches over the weekend.

Di Barbadillo, a community organizer, said she saw police misconduct at a protest on Friday in downtown L.A.

"They were assaulting the press," she said. "They were assaulting legal observers. They were detaining people and then not letting them leave, and then claiming that people were refusing to leave. People should have the ability to exercise their First Amendment rights, without police brutality."

In a statement, the LAPD said that they are "aware of the video clip of a woman being pushed," and that "[t]he force used will be evaluated against the LAPD's policy and procedure."

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New allegations of excessive force came more than a year after a harsh independent report sharply criticized the LAPD's response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

Among the findings:

The report found significant deficiencies in seven areas, including command and control, preparedness and training, and the use of less lethal tools. For example, inadequate training led to officers improperly using 40-millimeter hard foam projectiles against crowds of moving people, according to the report. It said most officers had received only two hours of training four years ago.

That report made 22 recommendations for improvement, including urging the LAPD to “research and adopt a variety of strategies and tactics that would minimize the extent to which protesters 'transfer’ their grievances toward the police.”

What Happened In Recent Days

The protests in Los Angeles and around the nation followed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Multiple videos of people being pushed by officers are currently circulating online. It is not clear which video the LAPD is "aware of" per their statement.

Here's a look at a few:

In one, a woman identified as Tina-Desiree Berg, who hosts a podcast called District 34, has a badge hanging from a lanyard around her neck as she is thrown to the ground by an officer:

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Another shows a reporter for the Beverly Hills Courier being shoved by police hard enough that he stumbles backward and drops his camera to the ground:

Several more videos show protesters being thrown to the ground (Warning: some of these videos are graphic, and some readers may find them disturbing):

One video shows officers shoving Full House star Jodie Sweetin to the ground:

On Friday, Lexis-Olivier Ray, who reports for L.A. Taco, said he and another reporter were "shoved and jabbed" by officers after they both identified themselves "as press repeatedly."

Adam Rose, who chairs the press rights committee for the L.A. Press Club, said he's "heartbroken" over some of the police conduct he observed on videos posted on social media, and he questioned whether the department is "sending the right amount of messaging" to officers about how to treat people in the field.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the department is investigating each incident and will discipline officers who are found to have acted out of policy.

An earlier news statement from the department said two people were arrested as a result of a Friday night protest.

Officers were allegedly attacked by fireworks and a makeshift blowtorch, injuring four.

One person was arrested for resisting an officer.

Another person, accused of fashioning the blowtorch, was arrested for "attempted murder."

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