Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — An activist arrested during a protest outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s official residence Dec. 6 criticized the Los Angeles Police Department’s actions during a skirmish saying police engaged in excessive force.
“You saw the footage. That officer was unhinged,” Jamie Penn, a member of the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, said the next day outside Getty House during the 14th consecutive day of protests seeking to persuade President-elect Joe Biden not to appoint Garcetti to his cabinet. “They rushed and shoved our elderly.”
Penn said she saw “people on the ground needing and I rushed to their aid. I would do it 100 times.”
No LAPD officers could be seen during the Dec. 7 protest.
Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, which has organized the protests with support from Ground Game LA, has vowed to conduct a demonstration every day until Biden commits to not appointing Garcetti to his cabinet.
Penn, who was described on Twitter as transgender, was arrested shortly after 10:30 a.m. Dec. 6 while police attempted to disperse the crowd.
Officer Melissa Podany of the LAPD’s Media Relations Section said someone in the crowd began using a bullhorn, which is a violation, and the sound exceeded more than 200 feet, which is another violation. A neighbor complained about the noise, generating another violation, Podany said.
She said that when police moved into to address the violations, others in the crowd advanced on the officers.
“Four officers attempted to make an arrest for the above violations, when the crowd moved in on the officers, punching and kicking them, which resulted in an ‘officer needs help’ call,” Podany said. “At that time, an unlawful assembly was declared.”
The person with the bullhorn ran away. Penn was arrested during the skirmish.
Various videos of the confrontation were posted on social media, showing baton-wielding officers trying to push back the crowd. Some protesters claimed police advanced violently on a crowd that included children.
The videos have prompted some elected officials to question the tactics used by officers.
Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, called the LAPD’s actions “brutal” and “unacceptable” and “must be denounced by everyone.”
City Councilwoman-elect Nithya Raman tweeted, “There is no acceptable justification for LAPD to use force against Angelenos who are peacefully exercising their right to free speech.”
Assemblywoman Wendy Carillo, D-Los Angeles, tweeted that she had “grave concerns with the circumstances and process” of Penn’s arrest including where she was detained and transferred to.
“It is incumbent upon us to protect an individual’s right to protest and the rights of transgender individuals,” Carillo tweeted.
While Biden hasn’t apointed Garcetti to a cabinet post, he did name the mayor
one of five co-chairs of the committee that will plan the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Biden.
In addition to Garcetti, Biden announced the appointment of South
Carolina Rep. James E. Clyburn, who will chair the committee; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; and U.S. Reps. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware.
“Kamala and I are honored and grateful to these leaders for joining our inaugural committee as co-chairs and helping to organize a safe inauguration for all Americans,” Biden said. “These leaders reflect the strength, spirit, and diversity of America and have always held a steadfast commitment to restoring the soul of the nation, building back the middle class, and unifying the country. We are proud of their support and know they will help plan an inauguration that will reflect our nation’s shared values.”
Garcetti previously served as a national co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign committee.
“I am honored to join the Presidential Inaugural Committee as a co-chair to help organize a historic inauguration for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect [Kamala] Harris that will engage Americans in every corner of the country and keep people safe,” Garcetti said in a statement following the Dec. 7 announcement. “This inauguration will mark a turning point for Americans to unite and start building back better together, for generations to come. As we grapple with threats to our health, livelihoods and climate, this is a time for Americans to come together, work together and move forward together.”
On Sunday, the LAPD announced that Penn had been arrested on suspicion of “lynching,” defining it as the crime of removing someone from the lawful custody of a peace officer by means of a riot. However, that term — deemed inappropriate because of its history in American race relations — was removed from the state’s penal code in 2015.
The use of the term by police raised the ire of demonstrators due to the nature and historical context of the word. The LAPD issued a statement Dec. 7 saying the word was “not used out of malice” but was “based upon an outdated understanding of the penal code.”
“The department strives to ensure quality through improvement and is continuing to provide training and review policies and procedures to ensure proper terminology is used when describing violations of the penal code,” according to the LAPD.