Occupy LA organizers claim police went over the line in confrontations with Chalk Walk demonstrators at Art Walk last Thursday night — and that video proves it.
They say a skateboard-carrying man was shot with a non-lethal around and then kicked by cops. Officers “smash his face into the pavement,” occupiers said.
But the two YouTube clips they provided (at the bottom) don't seem to prove a thing.
The video indeed depicts the skater getting shot by a non-lethal round and soon being surrounded by officers, but we can't see where he was allegedly kicked. He is pushed down, face down, by the cops, a move that's not against policy.
A second video is also cited as evidence of abuse by police, but it's hard to tell what's happening.
In any case, a long Facebook statement by Occupy Los Angeles describes the LAPD deployment of anti-riot tactics as a gross overreaction and as a violation of the group's freedom of speech.
At the heart of the clash was the “chalking” done by Occupy members as part of “Chalk Walk” festivities during the monthly Art Walk that organizers say have been happening since the occupation of City Hall started in October.
Cops arrested people who wrote messages in chalk that read “I love the world,” and “heart the police,” Occupy says.
The organization says never before has the LAPD reacted this way, and it calls into question the legality of claiming that chalking is vandalism.
On Friday LAPD Chief Charlie Beck defended his officers' actions, telling reporters (via 89.3 KPCC) that “chalking” is “defacing public property.”
He said demonstrators escalated the confrontation by throwing rocks and bottles at cops when they were told to stop chalking:
Occupy L.A. folks, all the folks who were there last night were warned repeatedly that their actions were illegal, and were given ample opportunity to stop what they were doing. When they refuse to do that, we make arrests. I want to make sure people understand that if you throw rocks and bottles at police officers, if you fail to disperse when police officers tell you to do so, if you deface private or public property, you will be arrested.
Occupy folks say four people at the scene were injured by cops (police say four of their own were injured too), but that only 2 of more than 17 arrests involved Occupy members. Seven vandalism arrests “were made before 9pm, long before police in riot gear made it to the scene,” they state.
That begs the questions:
Who overreacted first? Crowd members who threw rocks and bottles, or cops who sent in the troops?
And why, if Occupy has been doing chalking at these events since October, did things turn out so different this time?