Four days of protests follow Supreme Court decision

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — A fourth day of protests took place June 27 in downtown Los Angeles, where more than 100 people gathered to rally against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn federal abortion protections provided under Roe v. Wade.

RiseUp4AbortionRights sponsored the June 27 rally that began at the U.S. Courthouse at 350 W. First St. The group rallied outside the court building, then began marching on some downtown streets.

The day before, a rally organized by the groups The Feminist Front and Generation Ratify was held at Grand Park. It came on the heels of two days of demonstrations following the U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 decision June 24 to overturn 1973’s Roe v. Wade ruling.

Several streets around the Civic Center were temporarily closed June 25 by two large demonstrations downtown, one at Grand Park and another outside the federal courthouse on First Street, with a third rally outside the Federal Building in Westwood.

Those demonstrations were mostly orderly and peaceful, except for a brief attempt by protesters to access the Hollywood (101) Freeway. Police said a group entered the off-ramp at Broadway at 3:42 p.m., but the off-ramp was cleared about 17 minutes later.

The June 24 protests were not as peaceful, however, as a 30-year-old man was arrested for allegedly attacking a police officer with a “makeshift flamethrower” and could face charges of attempted murder.

Hundreds of protesters gathered downtown in the hours after the Supreme Court announced its decision, and after some skirmishes occurred, the LAPD declared an unlawful assembly and issued a temporary citywide tactical alert to clear the streets.

Two people were arrested and four officers were injured, LAPD officials said.

Michael Ortiz, 30, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and Juliana Bernado, 23, on suspicion of resisting an officer.

Police said Ortiz hurled a makeshift flamethrower at an officer who had to be treated for burns at a hospital. Bernado allegedly tried to take an officer’s baton, prompting police to fire a 40mm less lethal round at her before she was taken into custody.

“I condemn the violence against officers that occurred [June 24 and 25],” Police Chief Michel Moore said. “Individuals participating in such criminal activity are not exercising their First Amendment rights in protest of the Supreme Court decision, rather, they are acting as criminals. The department will vigorously pursue prosecution of these individuals.”

The Los Angeles Police Protective League also issued a lengthy statement condemning the actions of some in the crowd at the June 24 protest.

“As a society, it should be easy to condemn attacking police officers with improvised blowtorches, or throwing fireworks, rocks and bottles at officers under the guise of ‘protest.’ Yet, the silence is deafening from our so-called community’s leaders,” league officials said. “This type of raw violence on display in Los Angeles and across the nation from dangerous mobs hell-bent on destruction has nothing to do with a woman’s right to choose. Rather, it is nothing more than disgusting opportunistic behavior carried out by criminals hiding behind our First Amendment.

“LAPD officers are sick and tired of being violently targeted by criminals using the First Amendment as a shield for them to purposefully attack police officers,” the statement continued. “Our officers are sick and tired of the silence and inaction from our elected and department leaders when they are attacked. Seems some of these `leaders’ forgot how to Tweet or they can’t seem to find their voice to condemn these attacks on our officers when it does not fit their political narrative, align with their point of view or ruffles feathers.

“Violence is violence and it must be met with a strong response, and order must be restored. We demand the leadership of the LAPD to set aside politics and focus on protecting our officers and law-abiding residents from criminals.”

“Full House” actress Jodie Sweetin spoke out June 26 after alleging that police officers pushed her to the ground at one of the demonstrations. Video of the confrontation showed Sweetin approaching an LAPD skirmish line on what appears to be freeway ramp. At least one officer pushed Sweetin away from the line, and she stumbled forward, falling over the raised curb.

“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up … to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken.

“This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until all of us are free.”

A reporter with L.A. Taco tweeted June 24 that he also was assaulted by a group of officers.

“LAPD officers shoved me and jabbed @joeyneverjoe in the stomach with a baton, sending him to the ground. We both identified ourselves as press repeatedly,” tweeted Lexis-Oliver Ray.

On a video, officers in riot gear can be heard shouting “Leave the area, go back,” as well as Ray describing himself as a member of the press.

Spokeswoman Norma Eisenman of the LAPD’s Media Relations Division told City News Service June 25 that the department had no comment on Ray’s tweets. She added that no media staging area was set up for the demonstrations.


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