LOS ANGELES —The other day I took my regular lunch walk from West Los Angeles down to Brentwood. It began as a rather routine walk except when I exited my place of work, I saw numerous law enforcement and news media helicopters hovering overhead. It was the day after the U.S. invaded Iraq, so I thought something nasty had happened. Turns out, I was right.
When I got over to Wilshire Blvd., I observed across the street from me, blocks and blocks of anti-war demonstrators coming from Westwood and headed west toward Brentwood. They were orderly and on the sidewalk. While they were noisy, they were not as loud as the demonstrations that are in front of the West Los Angeles Federal Building on a regular basis.
The demonstrators with their "Not in Our Name" signs appeared to be all ages even though they were predominately young people. Perhaps, they included a number of UCLA students because the march had come from the direction of the university.
Escorting them, if that is the term, were a contingent of LAPD officers on bicycles, patrol cars, and helicopters. In addition, the California Highway Patrol had numerous motorcycle officers following the marchers. Then things got ugly.
I counted twenty-six LAPD officers with batons form a line across the intersection of Federal and Wishire Blvd. The marchers were not going to be able to proceed down the sidewalk or on the street west to Brentwood. So when the peace activists, who up to now had been very orderly, approached the intersection, they dispersed into the street. Now the street and traffic were messed up, thanks to the LAPD. What had been a peaceful demonstration was now a near riot. I turned back to my workplace. My freedom of movement had been curtailed by the LAPD.
The next day, Chief William Bratton had to mouth-off as he is doing a lot of these days. He defended the arrests of activists at the Federal Building and said if there was an incident between an activist and a police officer it was because the officer may have acted "inappropriately" (meaning the officer hit the person in the wrong way?).
LAPD official photo
Bratton couldn't leave it at that. He had to continue to comment on the situation as if he forgot what LAPD learned during the Rodney King Riots. It is best for them to keep their mouths shut and not aggravate the situation.
The Chief said it cost the citizens of Los Angeles "the sense of inconvenience" because the police had utilized 150 officers to protect the Federal Building and in doing so couldn't answer 911 calls.
Whoa, Bill, you got your priorities wrong again. Recently, you have shown them by creating a private foundation to get funds from fat cats in the city for your pet projects and then you appoint another outsider as a deputy to handle discipline of your troops. This time you got it wrong, too, Chief, real wrong.
We have young men and young women in some god-forsaken hellhole fighting and defending freedom (if George W. Bush is to be believed) which includes the right to scream in open space, "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore.". Sorry, Chief Bratton, exercising freedom is not an "incovenience".
On top of everything, what you are doing and not doing to quell real street crime and what you are doing to create your own freedom, I think it is time for Mayor Hahn to bid you "adios amigo". You have revealed your true feelings about freedom, Chief, and it stinks real bad.