Sweeps in Los Angeles Suburbs Create Fear, say Anti-Police Brutality Activists
Probation violators received some unexpected guests on Thursday after county probation officers, along with state and federal agents, descended upon multiple locations throughout Covina, Glendale, Monrovia, Pasadena and San Gabriel, leading to 35 arrests.
Three children, whose family members were probationers, were also taken into custody by the Department of Children and Family Services.
In all, the raids resulted in authorities retrieving
18 weapons and undisclosed amounts of methamphetamines and marijuana, according to the LA County Probation Department.
The raids were enormous, with 315 county probation officers and members of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secret Service, and parole officers joining in on the arrests at 117 locations.
While they were an incredible show of firepower, brass and testosterone, they weren't the only police gun-toting shows in town...nor the biggest.
On the same day, about 250 Los Angeles police officers, federal agents from Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and I.C.E. raided about 60 homes and arrested scores of gang members in an effort to stamp out Wilmington's burgeoning cocaine trade.
Also on Thursday, 800 law enforcement officials arrested 41 people in connection with a weapons, methamphetamine and cocaine ring in Long Beach, Los Angeles and La Puente.
A lot of toil and money has been spent over the years battling crime in the area. But the question remains: Are we any safer yet?
For CopWatch LA organizer Joaquin Cienfuegos and others, the answer is an emphatic "no." Such police actions "are part of a culture that terrorizes communities," he said.
Coincidentally, the crackdowns occurred a day before this afternoon's October 22nd National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, taking place in Pershing Square until 8 pm.
While keeping guns, drugs and thugs off the streets may be a noble cause for law enforcement, some participants of the annual march say the city's young, poor and minority communities are often victimized in the process.
"The way the cops approach it isn't right," said 19-year-old Claudia Gomez, an organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition.
For one, she said sweeps pose dangers for all those involved, including neighbors and "little kids" who get caught up in the raids.
Second, people with suspected gang ties are also mistakenly rounded up during raids. Cienfuegos said that's because so-called gang affiliations often have less to do with one's connections with gangs than with having a cousin who happens to be a gang member.
"It just means you're related to somebody or know somebody" in a gang, he said.
Furthermore, with the large show of weaponry and trigger-happy officers bandying about during sweeps, raids do nothing to protect us from the very people who commit the most egregious criminal acts, namely the police themselves.
Just ask grieving Mashia Lewis, the mother of James Davis, who was shot during a confrontation with police at a South Los Angeles housing project in October, as well as family members of Manuel Jaminez, who was shot in MacArthur Park in September.
Both families attended today's protest.
Instead of escalating firepower and manpower, as is often the case in raids, Gomez thinks its time for the police to find non-violent solutions to crime.
Authorities "need to restore peace," she said. "Then the community will follow."
The families of Davis and Jaminez and others victimized by police violence would surely approve of that.