Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israeli Consulate Protests

So we're going on the fourth or fifth organized protest of Hamas vs. Israel since the conflict began late last month. Since then, the LAPD has really gotten their shit together after stumbling very badly the first time the Israeli and Palestinian supporters started yelling at each other from across the 6300 block of Wilshire Boulevard.

The first night of protests in late December saw the LAPD way behind the eight ball. They desperately requested backup from on-duty patrol units in Wilshire, West L.A. and Hollywood divisions as the crowd grew and they couldn't get their shit together fast enough to shut down Wilshire at rush hour. Reinforcements were sent in from the BHPD and the entire day watch shift of the BHPD was held over for a few hours while the LAPD tried to sort things out and keep protesters from getting run over on Wilshire. Also, they didn't want the two sides killing each other.

So, in the weeks since, they've really put their full effort into preventing a repeat of the organizational mishaps they suffered. What's amusing about the LAPD's subsequents shows of force is that they are disproportionate to the size of the protesters and to anything that actually occurred during the first--and biggest--protest. That is, they're clearly trying to save face and impress the other agencies more than they are actually worried about a full-blown riot erupting.

Anyways, that brings us to today's activities. On my jaunt back from Brentwood around 0900 I saw the LAPD airship circling low over Wilshire and San Vicente and figured something was up. I parked my car and mosey'd over to the general area, where the DOT had just shut down Wilshire going eastbound. The protesters numbered about 15. The LAPD numbered about 10. Within 20 minutes, the LAPD numbers swelled while the protesters remained about the same.

The crappy camera phone pic above shows the first arriving units from Wilshire, West L.A., Olympic and West Traffic divisions lining up along the street. A captain in a tricked-out black, Dodge Charger then showed up followed by a Sgt. from West Traffic. Then, the news trucks, helos and LAFD's Battalion 18's sedan rolled in. Apparently, some protesters had chained themselves to each other or the building or some other such nonsense.

As an aside, members of the State Department's diplomatic security force have basically been stationed in front of and in the consulate for the past week or so. I noticed a bunch of them taking a lunch break in front of the building yesterday.

By 1000 hours, when I returned to my place of work, which is down the street from the Israeli consulate, all of Wilshire had been shut from San Vicente to at least Crescent Heights and more than a dozen unmarked cars from Metro division were parked in the middle of the street, with officers suiting up in riot gear and removing bundles of flex-cuffs from their car trunks. The most interesting aspect of this is what's clearly a by-product of 2007's disastrous May-Day protests when the LAPD went wildin' through the crowd and beat up everyone in sight, including journalists. So now, on the back of their tactical vests, in huge WHITE BLOCK LETTERS are embroidered the officers names. At least I assume it's their names, what with "Martinez," "Rodriguez," "JACKSON," on full display. Funny, too, since when the LAPD is giving you a beatdown and you're covering your head, might be tough to spot the officer's last name ON THE BACK OF HIS UNIFORM as he's hitting you from the front. But the devil is always in the details.

At full strength, the LAPD response included units from Rampart and as Pacific divisions, as well. The LAFD had Light Force and Rescue 61 standing by, though I didn't see the full complement of mounted patrols that have been here on previous occasions.

By 1115 hours, the incident was Code 4, the Metro cops and the LAFD had departed and the airship cleared the scene.

No comments: