Saturday, July 14, 2012

Is Chalk Really A Weapon Requiring Riot Police?

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / July 13, 2012)

So, apparently chalk drawing on the street is now a matter of terrorist security such that the LAPD had to come out in full riot gear during the monthly L.A. Artwalk.

Occupy L.A. activists and their supporters accused Los Angeles police of overreacting Thursday to chalk protesters during downtown's monthly ArtWalk, which set the stage for the violent run-in that resulted in 17 arrests.

Cheryl Aichele, 34, an informal leader of Occupy L.A., said police were aggressive early and made their first arrest shortly after 7 p.m. "within 10 minutes of getting where we wanted to be."

"Police were pushing us -- I got pushed into a garbage can -- then we were being pushed into the street," Aichele said. "They would do all these intimidation tactics -- all before 9. They would come in and snatch somebody and pull them away. Or they'd push us. Or yell at us."

One of the guys she saw got arrested "was just walking by, took some chalk and drew a heart and wrote 'police' in it."

"We were being peaceful," she said. "In our meeting beforehand, we said our goals were: Have fun. Stay safe. Speak out. Stand up. Reach out. Make friends. Chalk."

Peter White of the Los Angeles Community Action Network said he was present at 5th and Spring streets as a legal observer and believed the heavy police presence played a role in the conflict.

"I firmly believe it was an over-saturation of the police earlier in the evening, the sort of aggressive behavior earlier, that bled into things that happened later in the night," White said. On Thursday night, people began amassing and drawing and writing with chalk at 6th and Spring streets.

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