U.S. District Judge Gary Feess said the protesters would “suffer irreparable injury from loss of their First Amendment rights” and ordered a new security plan for the convention. A new plan has been drafted and is being presented to the judge this week, said Lt. Horace Frank, an LAPD spokesman.
Greater Challenges Ahead “It makes things a whole lot more challenging. Much, much more challenging,” Frank said.
But attorneys for those with an agenda that they want to promote before the Democratic delegates said distrust of the police department runs deep.
“If the LAPD could declare all of downtown as a no-free-speech zone, they would,” said Dan Tokaji, an ACLU attorney who handled the suit. “We are very worried about mass sweeps and arrests of innocent protesters, especially at the beginning of the convention.”
But for its part, the LAPD says it is doing the best it can to handle the situation. Frank said the the Lakers game melee was a different situation than police will face at the convention. Security at the Democratic event, he said, could only be likened to preparation for the 1984 summer Olympics.
The main concerns are to protect the safety of 4 million people who live and work in the city, to ensure the convention goes on as planned and to allow for the activists’ First Amendment rights, Frank said.
Frank disputed assertions that morale is low among the 9,200 sworn employees. Even the growing scandal at the Rampart division, situated just north of downtown in an area rich with recent immigrants, does not weigh on the LAPD rank and file.
“If anything, it gives them more impetus to go out and do what they are sworn to do,” said Frank, who is the department’s media point man for the convention.
Where Have You Gone Joe Friday?
Long past are the days of Dragnet and the legendary cop Joe Friday who insisted on “Just the facts, ma’am.” The images of the clean-cut, polite and helpful police officer in the City of Angeles eventually gave way to the real-life pictures of the beating of African-American motorist Rodney King by a group of white police officers.
After the riots, controversial police chief Daryl Gates retired in 1992. Among the final criticisms vaulted his way was that he did not have a plan in place anticipating anger over the verdict clearing the Rodney King police of wrong doing and that he waited too long to quell the mass looting, arson and assaults that were all televised around the world after the verdict.
In the 1990s, the department spent its resources on “community policing” to help heal the wounds of the videotaped beating of Rodney King and the riots that ensued after the officers on the tape were cleared of all charges.
“There was a sense that things were getting better,” Jeffe said.
In August 1998, former LAPD officer Rafael Perez was arrested on suspicion of stealing cocaine from the police Rampart property room. He subsequently implicated other officers, including four who face charges. About 70 officers are under investigation. So far, a total of 85 cases have been overturned as a result of the Rampart probe, according to the Los Angeles County’s District Attorney’s Office, which is investigating all the charges.
“There’s a great deal more distrust of the LAPD around Los Angeles, especially among people of color. That is largely a result of the still unfolding scandal, starting at Rampart,” Tokaji said. “We’ve seen a return to the days of Daryl Gates under Chief Parks.”