By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Aaron Holt, an 18-year-old junior-college student from Alta Loma, was struck in the chest with a projectile -- he thinks a beanbag -- that left a square 2-by-2-inch raw welt. A few hour later, he was coughing up blood and was put on intravenous antibiotics at an Upland hospital, to minimize chances of pneumonia, said his father. Holt says he was with the crowd on First Street when firing began without warning.
UCLA student Cheyenne Guerra was treated at Kaiser Hospital after being shot in the eye with a rubber bullet on the south side of Parker Center. Her vision was still blurry Sunday night. Officers came out without warning, pushing with their batons in all directions, Guerra said, and then the shooting started. ”I didn’t expect them to be shooting people in the back at a police-brutality protest,“ said Guerra. ”That was kind of a shock.“
Videographer Ralph Cole was arrested at the direction of two Metro Squad officers after seeking medical attention from paramedics for a gash on the chin Cole says came from a police baton. Cole says he was filming cops shooting into the crowd when he was hit by a mounted officer. He was charged with battery on a police horse and crossing a police line and released after five hours‘ detention. Two others were arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.
After several minutes of chaos, calm was slowly restored when hundreds of protesters sat on the ground in front of the advancing police lines. The police eventually drew back, and the program continued as planned, with speeches, music, and emotional testimonials from the relatives of victims of police brutality. At about 6 p.m., the crowd, which had thinned to about 500, marched back down Broadway to Olympic. Riot police lined the sidewalk and followed the march on bicycles and motorcycles, at times ramming the retreating protesters. Bob Myers, a former Santa Monica city attorney, who was acting as a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild, was standing on the corner of Olympic and Broadway with a group of other legal observers when he was hit by a motorcycle. ”I don’t know what they were trying to do, because there was no crowd and we were on a public sidewalk,“ he said.
Protest planners had done what they could to avoid such conflict with police. The original permit for the march from Olympic and Broadway to Parker Center was requested in July and granted almost two months later -- in violation of a recent court order that requires the city to respond to parade-permit applications within five days. An amended permit application, which allowed demonstrators to march around the police headquarters, was orally approved the Friday before the demonstration. The group that marched down First Street, where the fighting began, believed they were doing so legally. ”When I confronted Commander [Louis] Gray,“ the commanding officer for the entire operation, said National Lawyers Guild director Jim Lafferty, ”he said he didn‘t know any of this.“ Gray told the L.A. Times, ”It seemed to me they were supposed to remain in front of Parker Center.“
Regardless of the permit arrangements, says Myers, by shooting into a crowd without first declaring an unlawful assembly and giving people time to disperse, the LAPD acted illegally. ”The police have the right to use reasonable force to effectuate an arrest. They do not have the right to just shoot people in a crowd.“ According to Lafferty, the lawyers guild plans to present videotapes of the incident -- which he says clearly show that the police attack was unprovoked -- and other evidence to the Police Commission, which has promised to review the incident. A lawsuit is in the works.