Sunday, May 20, 2007

LAPD Hates Protestors!

Well, probably not, but I wanted to make a point about the rally/march/protest I covered last week and I don't have a lot of time. Here goes. . .

The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments. - Friedrich Nietzsche

I wish I had said that.

That quote popped up on my Google home page yesterday and I thought it applied well to something I've been feeling since the May 1st Immigration Rally. I've helped cover the story that resulted from that day and I've also had an opportunity to talk briefly with my station's reporter and photographer (Marc Coogan and Carl Stein) directly involved.

Sometimes I can get a different perspective on news that you've only watched on TV. On those recently rare good days where I'm out on the street with a camera doing what I do, I've gotten to see and hear for myself the flavor of what's going on.

Photo by Jason Crawford

Sometimes I get a tip or information that can be trusted but not used because it can't be verified. Sorry, I haven't gotten anything like that for this situation.

It's complicated and being on the other side of the camera doesn't actually mean I have a better understanding of why things happened. It certainly doesn't grant me the wisdom of Solomon in being able to suggest an answer to the problems that are hitting us over the head.

I think they were wrong on May 1st for using the tactics that were used. I'm not rushing to judgement just because-- well, heck, it is the LAPD!

I've simply come to that conclusion based on what I've seen of that day.

I'd like to get some satisfaction over the incident, but I won't hold my breath. I also don't ever expect to hear the truth about that day from the officers involved.

Sure, I expect to hear an official accounting of how and why the events progressed. I expect to hear an explanation why violent tactics were used on people who posed no threat. I wouldn't even be surprised to hear an admission of culpability on the part of the LAPD delivered by Chief Bratton himself.

I just don't expect to hear the truth.

The truth could only come from those officers directly involved. I'm not expecting to hear from them directly. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think that's how command structure works in public agencies. It would be wonderful to have police officers who follow a standard of honor that would allow them to be candid about their actions. We'll never know what those officers were thinking. We'll never know their motivations or intent.

We'll get a version of the truth that's been filtered for public consumption and possibly spun to minimize the detrimental impact of the situation on the LAPD. It's not what I want, but with so much at stake personally for the officers and politically for the department, it's what I expect.

It doesn't help the situation that in the protests I've covered since May 1st, I've routinely heard people trying to capitalize on the situation in support of their own points of view. It's also no big surprise individuals and groups are using this opportunity to further their own agendas.

A microphone, a bullhorn and a passionate point of view doesn't turn an unreasonable demand into a logical or practical course of action. Even though some of the demands seem to be perfectly reasonable; full accounting, appropriate disciplinary action where warranted, review of policy, apology, and restitution (again, conditionally based on the results of any or all of the 472* independent investigations of the matter)

Seems reasonable.

The problem is, it's difficult to rally people through reasonable discourse. Near as I can tell, for just a small slice of justice you need a bullhorn, lots of shouting and a catchy simple slogan that can be repeated over and over (possibly as a response to a simple question).

What do we want?

Arrest those officers! Fire Chief Bratton! Recall the Mayor! LAPD is corrupt!

There's a lot of this and more shouted as part of the protests that have taken place since May 1st. I hear what's being said and I understand the outrage. I'm just not willing to throw my support behind a scorched earth mentality that would condemn the entire department from the top down.

If there's a problem within an organization, you're going to have a really difficult time fixing the problem by cutting off the head. An organization is still made up of individuals who may or may not always represent the best interests of the organization through their actions.

Haven't we seen that?

We have an opportunity.

While attention is focused on the LAPD, I think it's reasonable to push for improvements in the way they operate. If there's a way to prevent another incident like what happened on May 1st, we should give it our support.

Beyond that, everything is an ongoing process. I hope to see positive change in the immigration policies of our country. I don't expect everyone to be happy with the way that works out, but it does need to change and I'm confident that it will.

Heck, after it changes, I'll fully support the right for people to come out and protest for additional changes. Yeah, and that's without fear of being assaulted by the people who are responsible for enforcing the law.

Darn, time's up. I have to go to work.

Happy Monday!

*Okay, that's just a random number, but there's a whole lot of investigating going on.


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