When asked about the meetings he has attended over the past three months between the community and the LAPD, DarEll T. Weist, president and pastor of the Staples-area United Methodist Church, says, “The police have done an extremely good job informing us about their plans — and have warned about a worst-case scenario of utter destruction.” A judge’s ruling has allowed the official protest site to be moved considerably closer to the delegates, along with authorizing Pershing Square as a secondary protest site, further ratcheting up pressure on the police. “Bringing it closer was stupid,” says nationally recognized security expert Ira S. Somerson. “I just wish that judge could be made to stand in the line between the demonstrators and the police.”
What’s more likely to happen is that delegates and the LAPD will be staring much closer at demonstrators than they had ever dreamed of — a situation that does little to shake the confidence of the department’s supporters, however. “When the rubber meets the road,” says the McCarthy report’s Robert Louden, “the LAPD will be prepared.”
The stakes couldn’t be higher. Beyond the reflexive hand wringing by the Mayor’s Office and the L.A. Times about whether or not outside elites will still consider post-convention Los Angeles a “world-class city,” there is the matter of what the city itself will think if its cops overreact.
“There’s no magic potion,” says Louden about police tactics. “You look at the experience of your own force and other agencies. You plan as carefully as you can. And then you pray for rain.”