Commission to examine how LAPD handled protests in Echo Park – CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) –The Los Angeles Police Commission will review on Tuesday how the department treated protesters ahead of the controversial cleanup of Echo Park Lake homeless camp in March.

FILE – Several protesters are arrested after clashing with LAPD agents during a protest against the closure of Echo Park Lake homeless camps. March 25, 2021. (CBSLA)

An LAPD after action report released Friday determined the department was at fault for the way it handled the protests.

On the night of March 25, around 180 people were arrested during a massive protest against the removal of a large-scale homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake and the indefinite closure of the park to clean up about $ 500,000 of damage.

During the protest, officers used beanbags and less lethal launchers to control the crowd.
However, the LA city prosecutor later said those arrested would not be charged for not dispersing.

Several members of the media were arrested in the roundup, including an LA Times reporter and two Knock LA reporters, but all were later released.

In its report, the LAPD said it needed a better system to track the use of projectiles on crowds and to deal with the increase in the number of independent journalists and “observers”, and could need “a formal policy or specific guidelines regarding what actions field supervisors and agents should take when detaining someone at the scene of an illegal assembly. “

At its peak, the LAPD deployed 750 officers to Echo Park to shut down the park and respond to protests. The cost to pay agents’ salaries and overtime, as well as the cost of “services rendered” by the LAPD during the March 24-25 shutdown was around $ 1.3 million. The department spent approximately $ 740,000 on the March 26-27 cleanup.

During the protests, officers said they used five rounds of “less lethal” 40mm launchers, six rounds of “less lethal” 37mm launchers and 12 rounds of “less lethal” beanbag launchers.

The department’s report alleged that “many activists also act as online reporters for alternative news sources” and that they “expect open access during crowd control situations, while s ‘opposing the agents and preventing the action of the police’.

The report also urged the city to make full park ranger staff a top priority and says many problems during the March 25 protest could have been avoided had the encampment not been allowed to grow so large.

Echo Park Lake reopened to the public on May 26 after being emptied of homeless settlements and undergoing two months of repairs. The park suffered $ 600,000 in repairs. More than 35 tons of solid waste and 723 pounds of biological waste – including 30 pounds of drug paraphernalia like needles and three guns, various knives and machetes – have been removed from the park.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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