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by jim lafferty, NLG LA
Saturday, Sep. 11, 2010 at 8:27 PM
(jim lafferty has heroic dedication to justice. i hope he doesn't mind that i republish this amazing story from the NLG LA email. it is important that we address police brutality and racism as well as government cover-ups. i am so proud to have met him and become familiar with the los angeles lawyers guild and their tremendous work.)
September 10, 2010
Dear Board Members and LA/NLG Members and Legal Observers:
I thought you would want to know that our press conference this morning in front of City Hall was extremely well attended. At least 20 members of the media were there. It seemed all of the radio and tv stations were present, along with AP. (We'll see what kind of actual coverage we get.)
I announced that the purpose of the press conference was two-fold: 1) to speak to the matter of the Mayor's rush to judgment in the shooting death of Mr. Jamenez; and 2) to speak to how the LAPD has been responding to those peacefully protesting the shooting.
With respect to the Mayor's statement that while "we've got to have an investigation," he was certain that when all was said and done it would show that the cops were "heroes," I said...in much more forceful language than I do here, that it was a despicable rush to judgment by a man who was not there, and that nevertheless saw fit to state with certainly facts very much in contention, and to then, after begrudgingly acknowledging the need for an investigation, announce to the City in advance of said investigation what the outcome would "certainly" be; and how inappropriate that was for the chief law enforcement official in the town. How, I said, can the community be expected to put any credence in an investigation who's outcome has already been foretold by the Mayor?
I then asked Colleen Flynn to speak to how the LAPD has been responding to the protests over the shooting and she did a marvelous job of documenting the many and various abuses of the LAPD... the rubber bullets, the false arrests, the false charges, the rounding up of people simply standing in front of their homes, etc., etc.
I also introduced a leader from the Guatemalan community who spoke eloquently of their long history at the hands of the LAPD and then also introduced two leaders from the immigrants rights community who spoke about the situation, as well.
As luck would have it, just as we were finishing our press conference the Mayor stepped out from the front door of City Hall to go to the Mexican Day celebration taking place on the South lawn of City Hall near our press conference. I ran over and as the press gathered around the Mayor I said, in a very loud voice, words to this effect: "Mr. Mayor, why did you pre-judge the investigation of the shooting of Mr. Jaminez by saying that you were sure the investigation would find that the cops were heroes. How can the community have any faith in the investigation when you, who have no personal knowledge of the facts, have already proclaimed with certainly what the outcome will be? You are a lawyer...you should be ashamed of prejudicing the investigation as you have done."
The press then picked up on my shouted statements to the Mayor (some of the same press who had covered our press conference were now trying to get to the Mayor)and asked the Mayor to respond. Basically what he said by way of response was this: "look, I speak my mind freely. When the police attacked the May Day protest I said I thought that was wrong...and so here I just gave my personal viewpoint, too." He was clearly on the defensive and the press kept pressing him on the point that I had made about prejudicing the investigation. And when they finished with him several tv and radio stations then asked for my reaction to the Mayor's explanation of why he said what he did. I said it was a lame excuse, at best. For the Mayor of a mayor City to not know how to control his own gut feelings in the wake of a killing of a resident of our City is shameful...and again said that as a consequence of his remarks the community would give little credence to whatever the investigation shows. I said, as well, that in light of the new eye witness statement to the effect that Mr. Jaminez was holding nothing in his hand when he was shot, the D.A. should conduct a more thorough investigation of this shooting than is usually the case and, if the facts justify it, prosecute officer Hernandez.
Colleen then gave one last interview to Channel 52 and AP and I gave one last interview to City News Service and AP, and we left. (We also learned of some more witnesses as a result of today's press conference.)
Regards, Jim Lafferty
P.S. My thanks, as well, to the half-dozen or so Guild members who've made it their business to go the protests near Mac Arthur Park every night since the shooting. Yesterday we issued a statement drafted by Carol Sobel about the police conduct at the protests, and I had a frank conversation with Sarg. Jim Barker, and apparently last night the police did behave better towards the protesters.
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