Attorneys for the city of Los Angeles hit back at a bid by Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles to have a federal judge call an immediate halt to police use of rubber bullets, baton blows and other crowd control tactics, calling the effort “unwarranted and overbroad” and a danger to public safety, according to court documents obtained Wednesday.
BLM-LA filed its application for a temporary restraining order last week, asking U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall to set an emergency hearing to discuss stopping the Los Angeles Police Department’s use of projectiles, including rubber bullets, to disperse or otherwise control crowds, baton strikes, and the tactic of “kettling,” in which protesters either leave through an exit controlled by the police or are contained, prevented from leaving, and arrested.
In its 20-page response Tuesday to the BLM-LA filing, plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote that the city and LAPD support the constitutional right to engage in peaceful political protests and were currently assessing the actions police took “on six historical, wrenching nights from May 29 to June 3.”
In asking the judge to deny an emergency hearing, the city stated that the “immediate wholesale elimination of several LAPD policies, without a more searching examination, is simply not warranted at this time.”
Although the recent mass demonstrations in response to the in-custody death of George Floyd were largely peaceful, there were also criminal acts of arson and looting which threatened public safety, according to the city.
“The LAPD must be able to respond to such situations,” court papers state.
In a federal lawsuit filed June 5 by the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, BLM-LA and Los Angeles Community Action Network, the plaintiffs maintain there were more than 3,000 people arrested over the course of several days of demonstrations and many were seriously injured by police.
A 59-page amended complaint includes graphic photos of alleged protester injuries from rubber bullets and police batons, as well as descriptions of protesters who were held in buses in cramped conditions without access to restrooms, and injuries from too-tight handcuffs.
The lawsuit contains photos of wounded protesters and detailed accounts of alleged mistreatment. Some incidents caught on video show LAPD officers using batons and other weapons on protesters.
Although LAPD does not comment on pending litigation, a spokesperson said the department will investigate every allegation of misconduct or excessive force stemming from the protests.
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