Protests are expected throughout the nation as Donald Trump takes the office of president on Friday. But Los Angeles might prove to have the most outspoken electorate of all.
At least three major protests are expected to take place in the downtown area Friday, with all three planning to converge at City Hall at 1 p.m. Demonstrators here are wary of mass deportation (Trump has vowed to throw 3 million people out of the country), the cancellation of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program (which provides temporary legal status for thousands of undocumented youths), and a rollback of health benefits under Obamacare, among other grievances.
"We'll stay vigilant and visible," says LAPD Officer Aareon Jefferson. "We're prepared if anything is to happen."
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Massive demonstrations usually bring out a few hundred extra officers with riot gear, concentrated in the protest zone. The department could be angling to avoid criticism that it faced following Trump's election, when a few nights of raucous protests erupted downtown and cops were assaulted, a freeway was blocked and businesses were damaged. The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing rank-and-file officers, complained the department was slow to react. "We were caught with our pants down," LAPPL president Craig Lally said in November.
That doesn't appear to be the likely outcome this time. "I would hope the department has learned its lesson from the election," Lally says. "They'll heavily deploy. If it gets ugly, they'll pull more units from the rest of the city."
That raises a point Lally has argued before: If 200 or 300 officers, perhaps more, are needed to police protests on Friday, regular patrols in the rest of the city could suffer for weeks. His long-term solution is more hiring. "They'll just make more officers work the inauguration and the rest of the deployment period suffers," he says.
"Hopefully nothing will go sideways."