Jasmyne Cannick blended into the throng of protesters as they reached Seventh and Figueroa streets, the crowd swelling to several hundred. As the protesters moved forward, those in the front of the pack tried to outmaneuver the police officers moving through downtown’s alleyways and side streets
But within an hour, the most feverish of the protesters on the front lines Wednesday evening had scattered, leaving a group that quickly found itself boxed into a cul-de-sac near Sixth and Hope streets.
“I was waiting for the dispersal warning, thinking, ‘OK, fine, I’m tired anyway,’ ” said Cannick, a political consultant and writer who has written critically about the Los Angeles Police Department’s chief and other top brass. “There was zip, zero.”
As protests continued in the wake of a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, some of the hundreds of people arrested in Los Angeles said they had broken no laws and never heard the order to disperse. Several said they inadvertently marched into tight areas where they became easy marks for arrest.
On Thursday, with an additional 145 people jailed overnight, Chief Charlie Beck ordered all of the protesters released in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
“We were a little surprised that there was that many and frankly, a little disappointed,” Cmdr. Andrew Smith said. “All our actions are predicated on the behavior of the crowd. My understanding is that they gave multiple dispersal orders. … And (protesters) would move down the street and continue the behavior that we consider unlawful” such as “blocking streets, banging on cars.”
Los Angeles Times reporters heard police announce that protesters had four minutes to disperse or face arrest, but many in the crowd were chanting or had begun to walk away from the area and it is possible that at least some did not hear the order.
Those being released were asked to sign a promise to appear in court but were not required to post bail, Smith said. Any protesters with warrants out for their arrest were not eligible, he added.
Source: Los Angeles Times | Matt Stevens and Stephen Ceasar