As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

LAPD: "Our Bad"

You don't see this kind of a report from a government agency every day.

In a scathing self-critique, the LAPD on Tuesday blamed the May 1 MacArthur Park melee involving officers, immigration protesters and journalists on a series of fateful decisions by police commanders that escalated hostilities and resulted in a widespread breakdown in discipline and behavior by officers.

The findings, contained in a long-awaited report by top police officials, come as Police Chief William J. Bratton announced that at least 26 officers participating in the incident are under internal investigation and could face discipline for using excessive force.

The report is the latest effort by Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to quell widespread outcry over the incident, in which TV news footage showed officers swinging batons and firing less-than-lethal rounds at journalists as well as immigration rights protesters gathered at the park for an afternoon rally.

The melee left 246 journalists and protesters as well as 18 officers with injuries, and more than 250 legal claims have been filed against the city. Los Angeles County prosecutors and the FBI are continuing to investigate the case.

The LAPD is far more given to whitewash than this. You actually have to hand it to both Bratton and Villaraigosa so far for talking this straight. Now comes the hard part. There has to be real disciplinary action taken against those who decided to take up arms against the protesters. Individual officers must be held accountable. Some of the higher-ups, like Deputy Chief Lee Carter, were demoted (he eventually resigned). And Bratton has accepted responsibility, saying "I, as chief of police, regret deeply that this occurred on my watch." But that statement has to have some force behind it.

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