In response to statements from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Police Department that back officers involved in the shooting death of day laborer Manuel Jamines, the National Lawyers Guild, Answer Coalition, community activists and other groups gathered Friday at City Hall, condemning the mayor and police, with some calling the officers' actions "shameful, undemocratic and un-American." During the press conference, the mayor made an impromptu appearance nearby.
These charges come after more than two dozen protesters were arrested this week in Westlake for decrying the officer-involved shooting of Jamines.
James Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild contends that police have been indiscriminately rounding up people who were protesting peacefully. He also slammed the Mayor for defending the officers before the investigation of the shooting was complete.
"The mayor has once again shamed himself to call the police actions heroic and brave," Lafferty said. He questioned the investigation's transparency when the mayor has already "announced the outcome."
Activists held up signs saying "Justice For Manuel."
During the recent Westlake protests, the National Lawyers Guild sent out observers to document police actions.
"The police were restrained at first," said attorney Colleen Flynn, who observed Tuesday night's protest. "However, they then provoked the crowd, rounding people up indiscriminately."
Flynn also added that two people arrested were threatened with deportation from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
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As the conference continued, Mayor Villaraigosa suddenly appeared on the south steps of City Hall a few yards away. He was there to attend the opening ceremony of Latino Heritage Month. Reporters quickly left the conference and swarmed the mayor.
"I understand I may have upset some people," the mayor told the phalanx of reporters around him. "But I stand by these officers. The fact is that they acted with just 40 seconds, I've been told. It was a very tough situation."
The mayor added that there would be an independent investigation regarding the matter. As he was defending his support of the officers, some in the crowd yelled, "Eyewitnesses said he was unarmed!" and "You weren't there, you don't know what happened!"