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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
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Downtown Police Brutality Rally

Protesters shut down parts of Downtown Los Angeles rallying against police brutality.

Watch Audio Slideshow here.

Parts of downtown Los Angeles were shut down today as demonstrators crowded the streets to protest police brutality.  Activists gathered in front of Los Angeles police headquarters around 2 p.m. hoping to raise awareness of what they feel is still a huge problem in the city.

The rally was a part of protests taking place in over 30 other cities in the United States in observance of the “National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.”  Activists were marching from police headquarters to Skid Row.

In the past, the Los Angeles Police Department had a contentious and, at times, violent relationship with the black community.  The Rodney King beating in 1992 and rap group N.W.A.’s controversial song “F--- the Police” exposed the fears and anger of the community in relation to the local police force.

The police department was forced to change after an independent federal investigation took a look at the LAPD’s structure and operation practices.  The Christopher Commission caused the resignation of Police Chief Daryl Gates, who was then replaced by William Bratton in 2002.

William Bratton employed the “broken windows” strategy, which focused on low-level crime that resulted in a reduction of violent offenses.  He also diversified the police department to give the community police officers they could identify with.

After current Police Chief Charlie Beck took over in 2009, he continued the community focus by concentrating on community policing.  Officers build trust with the areas they serve by patrolling on foot and building neighborhood relationships.  Officers are also wearing body cameras to help with the transparency of the police department.

Beck also created the “Urban Peace Academy,” which certifies former gang members to act in an intervention capacity and prevent violence from happening before the police become involved.

However, these efforts have not relieved the tensions between some in the community and the police.

In August 2014, some community members called for the firing of Beck when Ezell Ford, an unarmed black man in South Los Angeles, was shot and killed by an LAPD officer.  The Los Angeles Police Commission found that the officers on scene had no reason to detain Ford, who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Police also shot Brandon Glenn, an unarmed black man, in Venice, prompting Beck to make a statement regarding the concerns of the community.

“I know there are public concerns about this particular officer-involved shooting, as there are any time an unarmed individual is shot by a police officer,” Beck said during a press conference. “I am also very concerned about this shooting.”

Protesters showed their concern today by holding up signs depicting those who were killed by police.  As they marched through the streets of downtown Los Angeles they had one question for onlookers: “Which side are you on?”

Listen to the ARN audio piece here.

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