Revolutionary Worker #1115, August 19, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
Los Angeles, August 9--Right on the doorstep of LAPD headquarters, a large and diverse range of forces participated in a press conference called by the ACLU of Southern California to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the LAPD. The suit was filed on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter; the Los Angeles Coalition to Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal; the Los Angeles Chapter of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation; and the D2K Convention Planning Coalition. The presence of over two dozen family members of victims of police murder and brutality, youth, attorneys, students, political activists and representatives from the faith community--arrayed around a 30-foot-long banner from the October 22nd Coalition that declared "Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation"--created a bold backdrop.
Stemming from the police attacks on demonstrators at last year’s Democratic National Convention and the October 22nd National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, the National Lawyers Guild v. City of Los Angeles lawsuit details various methods used by the LAPD to suppress expressions of political dissent, including surveillance; infiltration of protest groups; imposition of "no-speech" zones; excessive force; illegal searches; dispersal of public events; and blocking of fully permitted marches.
James Lafferty, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, summed up what’s at the heart of the lawsuit: "The signal that we want to send is that dissent cannot be run off the streets of Los Angeles by a brutal, out-of-control LAPD.… This lawsuit is our shot across the bow of this police department, saying, ‘Oh no! We are not going to allow people to be intimidated, we’re not going to allow them to be run off the streets.’"
Reverend Richard Byrd spoke on behalf of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality. "[We] will not stand idly by and watch as dissent itself becomes outlawed.… Brutalizing and suppressing those who dare lift their heads and demand a better world is intolerable and must be opposed. To participate in political dissent in these times means braving police in riot gear, brutality, rubber bullets, horses, harassment, arrests, political spying, and even death. The authorities try to paint protesters as ‘rebels without a cause’ and ‘troublemakers’ out to provoke a response. The real deal is that not wanting to go along with the status quo is increasingly treated as a crime itself.
"At last year’s National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Greg Jordan, the father of John Jordan who was killed by Long Beach police, and who himself was shot by police with three rubber bullets in the back at the protest, said, ‘If the police attacked to keep us from returning, they’re wrong.’ It is in that spirit that we join with others to oppose the police attempts to criminalize anyone who dares to lift their head and demand a better world.
"The October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality calls on people to come back to Parker Center this year on October 22, 2001, as part of the 6th National Day of Protest to oppose police brutality as well as to demand an end to police repression at political protests. We will not allow the police to outlaw protest. Whose streets? OUR streets!"
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