LAPD, BLM activists reflect on mistakes made in handling of George Floyd protests in LA

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021
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LAPD is acknowledging it made mistakes handling last year's George Floyd protests and says it is implementing changes.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As the nation marks one year after the death of George Floyd, activists say LAPD's actions during last summer's local protests highlight continued problems with the agency.

The Los Angeles Police Department is acknowledging it made mistakes handling the protests and says it is implementing changes.

Three separate reports - including one conducted by the LAPD itself - found fault with the department's handling of last summer's protests.

In some instances, the reports said the department made matters worse by disrupting the large, mostly peaceful demonstrations.

RELATED: LAPD facing scrutiny over handing of Floyd protests

"There's consensus that LAPD mishandled the protests, that they demonstrated the point as we were out protesting police brutality, we experienced police brutality," said Melina Abdullah, the co-founder of the LA chapter of Black Lives Matter.

"We're going to do a better job this next time. I pray that there's not a next time, but our command and control, our training of our personnel, the tools and resources they have will be up to the task," said LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

On a recent visit to LAPD's police academy in Elysian Park, Moore demonstrated some of the updated crowd management and crowd-control training officers go through with a greater focus on de-escalation, minimizing the use of force and avoiding confrontations.

The training includes time in a classroom where department policy and procedures are reviewed, but the chief says more time training in the field is key.

"There's a temptation to say well, we don't need to do this training. What's our most important training? We'll do that first. And this other stuff we'll put off because we're really not seeing anything. Sound familiar? Really haven't seen riotous civil unrest. It's been years since that's happened. Let's focus on preservation of life, let's focus on people experiencing mental illness. How do we de-escalate control for that and this other training, we'll be good enough with a video. And we saw last year, we have to maintain competencies in all those areas," Moore said.

But Abdullah, who has asked for Moore to be fired, believes the LAPD hasn't improved in the year since the protests and says the department cannot reform itself.

"It's been absolutely horrendous. We've seen constant attacks on righteous protesters not only in the weeks and months after the murder of George Floyd, but as recently as December as we were protesting in front of the mayor's house," said Abdullah.

Moore says the department found issue with their crowd control tactics, meaning once a crowd moves, groups of officers were separated and lost track of resources. The solution, according to the chief, starts at the top with those in charge of a field operation doing a better job of managing officers.

"This is not a government that oppresses these demonstrations and will wipe the entire demonstration with the same brush. Our effort is to try and identify those within that demonstration that are conducting violence and pull them out. And when we can't do that, declare an unlawful assembly and cause that order to be issued where people leave," Moore said.

But Abdullah says the LAPD can't be trusted based on their mishandling of past protests and tendency for violence.

"Making black lives matter means de-funding the police. It means divesting from a corrupt and violent policing system and investing in the things we actually need, like housing and mental health resources and after-school programs and libraries and parks as the world opens back up," said Abdullah.