A third night of protests over a Los Angeles police shooting of a knife-wielding man erupted in Westlake Wednesday, but they appeared to be more subdued than clashes Tuesday that involved 22 arrests.
The demonstrations Wednesday at West Sixth Street and South Union Avenue came to life after Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck held a sundown meeting at a nearby school to reassure the largely immigrant community west of downtown that a thorough investigation would be conducted. However, Beck might have rubbed some folks the wrong way when he told the crowd at John Liechty Middle School that police aren't trained to take knives away from people. He spoke the truth, with the subtext being that when suspects wave around deadly weapons despite repeated warnings they get shot by cops. But he was heckled.
On the historic streets of Westlake, often described as densest neighborhood west of the Mississippi, there were four arrests by 11 p.m., Officer Cleon Joseph said. No injuries were reported, despite more rock-and-bottle throwing and a few rubbish fires.
Police responded again not only with less-than-lethal weapons but with video surveillance, hoping that agitators would later be identified and brought to justice.
The third night of defiance was sparked by the fatal shooting Sunday afternoon of Guatemalan immigrant Manuel Jamines, who police said was threatening officers and citizens with a bloody knife they later displayed.
While some demonstrators claimed that Jamines was given little warning, and only in English, police said the three officers involved warned the suspect in English and Spanish to drop the knife before one of them opened fire when he alleged raised the weapon over this head.
On Wednesday night the Los Angeles Times identified the shooter as Frank Hernandez, a 13-year department veteran the paper stated had been involved in two other shootings that were later deemed to be within LAPD policy.
One member of the Westlake community, however, told CBS2 that Hernandez was allegedly known to some as a "very bad" cop.
Still, there seemed to be more to the early September protests than a deadly clash between a suspect who appeared to be clearly in the wrong and three Latino cops. This was no Rodney King scenario.
The anger at the LAPD seems laced with an undercurrent of class upheaval, an opportunity for some of the poorest people in one of the world's wealthiest places to vent during a time of economic malaise.
As one demonstrator told the crowd at the meeting with Beck, the immigrants of Westlake were "waiting for another opportunity ... so they can start another L.A. riots."