Occupy L.A. Files Complaint Against LAPD For Chalk Walk Clash
Members of Occupy Los Angeles are filing complaint forms with the Los Angeles Police Commissioners Tuesday regarding what they believe are the questionable actions of LAPD officers during last Thursday's Art Walk/Chalk Walk clash.
Occupy L.A. claims the LAPD used excessive force to handle the participants in their "Chalk Walk" protest, which involved occupiers using sidewalk chalk to draw and write messages and sketches on the sidewalk during the monthly Downtown Art Walk event.
The manner in which the LAPD handled the planned activity is being called into question from its start, according to a media release issued by Occupy L.A.:
Occupiers say police started off with excessive show of force by deploying what appeared to be more than two dozen officers, one dozen on bicycles, five squad cars, and three motor cycles to make the very first arrest of the evening.
As the tensions escalated, and ultimately involved Art Walk attendees and bystanders, Occupiers say they witnessed and/or experienced "being pushed with batons, excessive show of force, injuries, and violations of Rights."
During the confrontation, LAPD fired rubber bullets into the crowds. Photos appeared immediately online of people on scene with bright red welts and other injuries. Many people on scene have detailed being given confusing or contradictory directions--then being scolded for not being where they were allegedly told to be. Others report being pushed or shoved. "LAPD pushed people into bolted-down garbage cans, parked cars, and into the streets," says Occupy L.A.
The LAPD says they opted to respond with force because people in the crowd were throwing bottles, rocks, and fireworks at the officers. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck have also emphasized that "chalking" is not seen as a protected free speech act in L.A., but is rather considered vandalism.
Yesterday Beck said he felt his officers handled things properly, but the LAPD would review the events of the evening, according to L.A. Now:
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that after an initial review of last week’s skirmish between officers and protesters during downtown’s monthly Art Walk event he believes the department “overall responded appropriately.” He added that department officials are in the midst of conducting a more thorough review of the night’s events, in which they will look into whether the “hard line enforcement” approach that police took was necessary. “I would much prefer to resolve these things through negotiation and cooperation, rather than hard line enforcement," he said.
"We will look to see if there were opportunities we missed,” he said. “At this point, I don’t know if this incident could have been handled any better or differently.”