At around 3:58 P.M this afternoon, I was at the Southwest corner of Sunset and Highland in Hollywood, talking with some of the anti-war protestors who had assembled along the sidewalk.
After speaking to an older man, who, along with his daughter, was holding up a sign with an anti-war message, about a dozen LAPD officers on bicycles ordered everybody to leave the area, threatening to arrest anyone who didn't comply.
Although I was gently knudged, I witnessed that others were being pushed and shoved by LAPD officers, and one actually used his baton to jab persons that didn't move fast enough for him.
During the turmoil, I managed to sneak into a McDonalds restaurant located on that corner and spent the next two hours watching LAPD officers break up one peaceful anti-war demonstration after another.
At various times, Sunset and Highland became a warzone as dozens LAPD officers pushed and shoved anti-war protestors away from the intersection, and, in one instance, entered the McDonald's parking lot with their batons drawn.
Although I myself wasn't close enough to see LAPD officers physically assault some of the anti-war protestors, I did observe that an older woman had been forced to the ground shortly after they charged a crowd.
For the most part, I saw nothing to indicate that a majority of people who tried to assemble on the sidewalks near that intersection were going to engage in any kind of illegal activity, including acts of civil disobedience.
And well established constitutional law clearly says that persons do have a right to assemble on a public sidewalk without a permit as long as they don't block or obstruct the movement of either pedestrians or traffic.
But today, I guess the "powers that be" wanted to make sure that the studio moguls and celebrities attending the Oscar awards ceremony wouldn't be annoyed by the sight of anti-war protestors lining up along Highland Blvd.
So they basically decided to let dozens of LAPD officers run wild and trample over our constitutionally protected rights of free speech and assembly.
Its quite clear to me that LAPD top brass condoned what was going on because an unmarked police car pulled into the McDonald's parking lot and an older officer stepped out wearing a uniform with stars on it.
Although I don't know too much about LAPD's ranking system, I'm of the opinion that this officer had a rank much higher than that of a Lieutenant or Captain, and was probably a Deputy Chief.
What happened today was completely disgusting.