Oh and I heard from Parks. He is of course denying being involved. I have some internal info that doesn't square with what is being put out there.
The thing that bothers me the most is that IF this a standard action as they are telling me, why was there no written plan?
I came across that Witness LA site yesterday morning -- my Google search kicked it up -- and I thought the woman was honest but mistaken about certain points. So I posted a comment about how and why I believed the Shaws. Then the woman who runs the site blasted back with a mini-screed about how Jamiel's Law was "loathsome" and "Xenophobic," which tells me she was on a smear campaign.Her posting, moreover, misses the point. The point isn't WHICH city agency sent armed, uniformed men to seal off the park, "hassle" the Shaws, and tell them to go door-to-door. The point is that the City sent ANYONE to do that. Gathering signatures, in a public park, for a petition to the government is the quintessential First Amendment activity. The Shaws have an absolute right to do that.Even assuming for the sake of argument that other people in the park were selling food without a license, can anyone point to any comparable raid anywhere else in the City? A helicopter? Sealing off the park? A garbage truck? Is this kind of show of force routine? One would think that a single officer, or maybe two, could simply go from vendor to vendor writing tickets, or maybe even giving a warning first.This thing stinks.On Aug 20, 2008, at 12:14 AM, Michael Higby wrote:To be published at 4:00 a.m. Wednesday:
Controversy continues over the harassment of the Shaw Family at Leimert Park last weekend as they sought signatures for petitions to place Jamiel's Law on the ballot. Debate has continued over who was involved and who was responsible for the law enforcement operation during which the Shaws and their supporters were allegedly asked by police officers to produce their Social Security numbers as well as being told they were not allowed to collect petition signatures in a park and must go door to door to secure them.
The Witness LA blog attempted to take the wind out of the sails of the harassment angle of the story by interviewing a local LAPD watch commander. According to Witness LA, South West Division Watch Commander Lt. Art Sandoval denied involvement in any organized action at the park on the 17th telling the blog's editor, Celeste Fremon, "The truth is this. There was no raid," he said. "None of our officers made contact with the Shaw family. We were there because there was a street faire going on in the park, and we always send officers over when there are street fairs. "
However in information secured by the Sister City by anonymous sources from allegedly within City Hall, that indeed an organized multi-agency action, or "task force" was underway at Leimert Park with heavy LAPD involvement.
The stated purpose of the action was to address a laundry list of annoyances at the park ranging from vagrants to drug use to parking violations and "loud drumming." According to our informants, a number of agencies were part of the operation however the shots were allegedly called by the City Attorney's office and the Council District 8 office (Bernard Parks).
Sandoval was either misstating LAPD's participation or was not aware of the scope of the operation. Far from just showing up to observe a street fair, the South West Division was intimately involved in the task force. The team conducted a roll call briefing at South West Division which was reportedly led by a Senior Lead Officer "Biondo." Our sources also state that during the roll call guidelines were allegedly given to the task force by Deputy City Attorney Sharee Sanders. Apparently there was no written plan for the task force; all instructions were verbal. This seems to support what one of the police offiicers allegedly told Althea Shaw, that the police action was planned "a week ago."
In addition to LAPD, Council District 8 and the City Attorney's office, the City's Office of Public Safety, LA City Street Use Inspectors, Department of Transportation, Los Angeles Homeless Services, LA County Health Inspectors and Department of Sanitation were also involved. There is no indication that even though the action took place in a City Park that the Department of Recreation and Parks nor their Park Rangers were notified or involved of the action.
Considering that so far the City can't get its story straight on the matter, an investigation is warranted. However given that the City Attorney's office and the LAPD were involved it is unlikely they can produce an unbiased report. Given the District Attorney's handling of the Shaw's case they should not investigate the incident either.
Therefore the City Council should call on State Attorney General Jerry Brown's office to investigate the Officers' actions and what specifically the City Attorney and Council District 8's involvement was.But don't hold your breath.
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I will read your e-mail, but, because I receive so much e-mail now,
I probably won't have the time to write a personal reply.
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Candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles
On Aug 20, 2008, at 9:49 AM, Michael Higby