Media Contact: Rebecca Brown
Phone: (860) 944-5111
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUNE 30, 2022
NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD OF LOS ANGELES DEMANDS AN END TO THE LAPD’S VIOLENT USE OF FORCE AGAINST ABORTION RIGHTS PROTESTERS, JOURNALISTS, AND LEGAL OBSERVERS
LOS ANGELES, CA – Today the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles (NLG-LA) held a press conference outside of the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters and denounced the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) violent response to abortion rights protests held last weekend. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, stripping women of their right to bodily autonomy and placing many womens’ lives in danger, hundreds of Angelenos, accompanied by press and NLG-LA legal observers, took to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles to voice their opposition to this dangerous ruling. The LAPD responded to these protests yet again with egregious acts of violence against protesters, journalists, and legal observers.
NLG-LA legal observers were present at protests throughout the weekend to document arrests and law enforcement misconduct. Legal observers witnessed LAPD officers deploying less lethal munitions at point blank range, pointing less lethal weapons at protesters and threatening to shoot at point blank range, pushing, shoving, and striking protesters with batons, choking a protester, and pushing and violently manhandling protesters.
Rosie Nolan was marching at protests on Saturday in response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. “I got thrown down twice by a police officer with the last name of Hunt,” Nolan explained. “I have never encountered that kind of force from marching and protesting. I have been doing this since I was a kid with my mother up in northern California. And it was incredibly frightening that in the light of day they have the audacity to use such force on people who were really very peaceful. They were incredibly peaceful and just trying to express our upset with what is happening in this country.
Legal observers also witnessed LAPD officers violently attacking multiple members of the press on June 24, particularly journalists of color and journalists who represent progressive news outlets. Despite journalists displaying their press credentials, LAPD officers hit and pushed journalists with batons and aggressively manhandled and shoved journalists to the ground.
Tina Berg, an independent journalist at the abortion rights protests last Friday explained that a new law, California penal code 409.7, protects journalists in the course of duty from law enforcement intentionally stopping, interferring with, obstructing, or telling journalists to leave, even if officials have called an unlawful assembly. Berg shared, “The First Amendment is the glue that holds our democracy together. Part of what journalists do is hold power to account. As such, it is imperative that Code 409.7 be followed by LAPD.”
LAPD also brutalized NLG-LA legal observers, who were present to document arrests and law enforcement activity. Even with legal observers donning their signature bright green caps for easy identification, one officer violently pushed a legal observer to the ground using his baton. Another officer shot the observer with a less lethal weapon.
Footage of LAPD’s actions on June 24 and 25, 2022, is available at tinyurl.com/624footage.
Despite LAPD’s purported commitment to de-escalation (Department Manual 1/556.10 Policy on the Use of Force), LAPD continues to respond to protests with sheer aggression and escalation. LAPD continues to trample progressive protesters’ First Amendment Rights and unjustifiably criminalize and brutalize protesters, journalists and legal observers. The violence that LAPD displayed last weekend was wholly unnecessary and inappropriate. This unwarranted response to progressive free speech activity has and will continue to lead to civilians being seriously injured and traumatized. This is absolutely unacceptable, especially coming from the department that is responsible for keeping residents of Los Angeles safe.
Rebecca Brown, Staff Attorney and Mass Defense Coordinator for NLG-LA states: “LAPD is attempting to intimidate and silence protesters from coming out to advocate for their rights and is attempting to intimidate and silence journalists and legal observers from reporting out the truth and holding law enforcement accountable. We will not be silenced. With the continual attacks on our rights and safety from the American government, this summer Angelenos will continue to take to the streets and exercise their First Amendment rights. Journalists and legal observers will continue to document and report on police misconduct. And NLG-LA will continue to be here to support activists and progressive movements.”
As the nation’s oldest progressive bar association with the city’s largest group of legal observers, NLG-LA is duty-bound to call for greater accountability from law enforcement and city officials to keep people exercising their free speech rights safe from police brutality, including volunteer legal observers documenting police misconduct, journalists simply doing their job, and all protestors. LAPD and other Los Angeles area law enforcement officials must immediately cease their practice of responding to social justice protests with violence and aggression. We will not stand for this egregious violation of protesters’, journalists’, and legal observers’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. NLG-LA will continue to fight for the constitutional rights of all Angelenos as they speak out against oppression.
About the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles: The National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles (NLG-LA) seeks to unite lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests. For more information, please visit nlg-la.org.