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LAPD reports show that the vast majority of George Floyd protests were peaceful

By Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — Field reports from Los Angeles police commanders at protests across the city this summer indicate that between 6% and 7% resulted in violence, destruction or serious uses of force by police, according to the LAPD.

The vast majority of events during the period reviewed — May 25 to July 31 — were peaceful.

That is one finding that will be reflected in a forthcoming "after-action report" by the LAPD on its handling of the summer gatherings, officials said.

"The majority of our protests and demonstrations have been peaceful," LAPD Chief Michel Moore said after first mentioning the findings during a Tuesday meeting of the Police Commission.

Asked for more information on the issue, LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein said the figures were "an estimate made from a review of daily reports and field reports from incident commanders during the protests, and not from one single source document."

Rubenstein said the minority of protests that were considered violent involved situations where the "actions of the protestors turned aggressive with assaults," where there was use of force "between the public and police," and where there was "vandalism to commerce and government facilities."

More details from the incident commanders' reports will be released with the full after-action report, he said. He did not say when it would come.

The finding that most L.A. protests were peaceful supports similar claims that Moore, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other officials in the city have made in the past, at times to the consternation of protest critics.

Moore has previously said that there were agitators among peaceful crowds that succeeded in turning peaceful events destructive and dangerous, and who forced police to declare gatherings unlawful — which led to mass arrests and police using crowd-control weapons that badly injured protesters.

 

Protesters have said that police in riot gear instigated the clashes more than anyone in the crowd.

The idea that mostly peaceful protests were infiltrated by individuals intent on causing violence and property damage — essentially that legitimate protests were hijacked by anarchists and other extremists — has been adopted by police and other officials across the country, not just in L.A.

On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray gave a nod to the idea in a speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, saying that law enforcement has "seen violence and destruction of property at otherwise lawful protests across U.S. cities."

"All too often, the primary agitators are dangerous extremists who seek to sow discord and divide our country, not to bring about peaceful change," he said, according to his prepared remarks.

"We've had to work together to ensure that both our law enforcement officers on the front lines and our citizens remain safe — particularly those citizens trying to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights in the midst of this violence," Wray said. "Because the voices of people demonstrating to support the bedrock principles of justice and equality deserve to be heard."

In addition to the LAPD's internal after-action report, the Police Commission has hired the National Police Foundation to conduct an independent review of the LAPD's protest response this summer.

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