Reporters mourn badly after LAPD mass arrests in Echo Park


Reporters and legal observers who were detained or arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department during a mass arrest of protesters in Echo Park on Thursday night sounded alarms Friday, accusing the Los Angeles Police Department of ignoring their legitimate role in monitoring such events on the ground.

They also accused the Los Angeles police of issuing confusing directives and attempting to force members of the media into a designated observation area that would have prevented them from viewing the protest or arrests that followed.

While some detained reporters and observers were released without arrest, others, including reporters from less established media brands, were held for hours and then formally charged, raising additional questions about police selection and choice of officers. means to recognize as legitimate.

“It’s an absurd conflict of interest,” said Jonathan Peltz, who was arrested while covering events for Knock LA, a nonprofit newsroom affiliated with the progressive activist group Ground Game LA. “It should be widely accepted that [police] it is not the people who decide who is a journalist or where a media pen is ”.

Julian Andrews, a television cameraman who was in the field with Spectrum News reporter Kate Cagle and another colleague, said the actions of the LAPD, which took Cagle and tied his hands minutes before a planned live shot, they were amazing”.

“They knew she was a reporter. We were cameramen trying to make a story. We weren’t causing any disruption, ”Andrews said. “Honestly, I was surprised. I could not believe it “.

Cagle was later released without arrest, as was James Queally, a reporter for The Times who was also detained while covering the protest. Queally called the experience “maddening.”

Peltz said that at one point, he was sitting next to Queally, both bridled, commiserating with the LAPD’s actions.

“What is this, arrest a journalist night?” Queally joked.

Los Angeles police said Friday that officers had made “extraordinary efforts” to allow the protest to unfold peacefully, but eventually arrested 182 people after outlawing the gathering near Lemoyne Street and Park Avenue and issuing a warrant for the protest. dispersion. They cited the alleged use of strobes by some in the crowd as the reason for the order, saying that attempts to remove only those responsible for the lights had been rebuffed by the larger crowd.

“Once the decision was made to initiate the arrests, the crowd was rounded off and individually detained with no instances of use of force or injury,” Los Angeles police said. He also said that two officers suffered minor injuries and that the officers fired 10 hard foam or bean bag projectiles during the course of the protest “in response to the projectiles fired at the officers.”

The department said that three people among the detainees identified themselves as members of the media, while others identified themselves as legal observers of the National Lawyers Guild, and that those people were “released at the scene without further action.”

However, not all of those who claimed to be reporters were released. Among those who went to jail were Peltz and his Knock LA colleague, Kate Gallagher.

Peltz said he had heard the LAPD make an announcement about the media, but was unable to fully understand it. It just sounded like they were telling the media to leave, which didn’t seem legitimate to him, he said.

“Nobody knows how to take that. It doesn’t sound legal. I never heard that in another protest, “he said. “There seems to be a willingness on the part of the police force not to have consistent rules or laws for people to follow, but their excuse for arresting people is that they weren’t following the rules.”

Once Peltz was taken into custody, he said he told police he was press, but was ignored.

“You just have the feeling that either they didn’t believe you, or it didn’t really matter,” he said. When he later learned that journalists with LAPD-issued credentials from larger outlets were released, he was frustrated, he said.

“Why are they the ones giving these credentials?” said of the police. “Why are they the ones who decide, especially when they are the ones who are written about?”

Peltz editor Liam Fitzpatrick said he spent a frantic few hours trying to figure out where Peltz and Gallagher had been taken, which ended up being the Metropolitan Detention Center in the center.

“I called the Metro Detention Center asking if they had been booked, and whatever, they gave me that police thing like, ‘Well, they’re not in the system yet, so we can’t say where they are.’ Fitzpatrick said. “We couldn’t find where anyone was. We call and leave messages for media relations officers. I did not hear anything “.

In a statement, the National Lawyers Guild denounced the actions of the Los Angeles police, including the arrest of its members and members of the media, as “illegal and shameful” and reflect tactics that have been the subject of legal agreements against the department in the past.

It did not say how many of its members were detained, but asked city attorney Mike Feuer to drop all charges stemming from the protest.

The ACLU of Southern California condemned the LAPD’s actions as a misguided attempt to hide from scrutiny the “militarized action” its officers were taking to clean up Lake Echo Park.

“The mass arrests of protesters, legal observers and journalists will not prevent the city’s brutal and ill-conceived actions from becoming known,” the ACLU said. “City leaders who endorse this approach must be held accountable.”

Andrews, the television cameraman who filmed his Spectrum News colleague Kate Cagle being pulled out of the crowd by officers, said she questions what prompted police to detain her, even if they eventually let her go.

Andrews said that Cagle had told her to start recording as she went ahead to prepare for her live shot, just in case she was arrested. He said he had laughed in response, thinking the idea was ridiculous, but started recording anyway.

Then it happened. Cagle, framed in the frame of his camera, was approached by several officers, grabbed and taken away, even though it was absolutely clear that she was a reporter, Andrews said.

“They came for her, just when she was out in the open,” he said. “I can not believe it”.



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