Police reforms spur skepticism

Police reforms spur skepticism

first_imgMACARTHUR PARK – Watching her fellow students play softball during a quiet afternoon at MacArthur Park on Tuesday, 14-year-old Osmery Batrez recalled a much different scene at the park May 1. “They beat my brother up,” said the Soledad Enrichment Action Charter School student, referring to Los Angeles Police Department officers. “They just came and started pushing people around. We were just protesting.” Batrez said despite the self-critical report issued Tuesday by the LAPD, she doesn’t believe the top brass will make any real changes. Her sentiments were echoed by others who live, work or go to school in this largely immigrant Latino community. “They killed a reporter, Ruben Salazar,” Hernandez said, recounting the 1970 march and subsequent riot in which Los Angeles Times reporter Salazar was killed by a sheriff’s tear-gas cannister while he sat in a bar. “You can put a number or a name on the helmet; they’re still going to be the same,” he said, commenting on the report’s recommendation to put officers’ names or identifying numbers on their helmets or vests, something missing May 1. Hernandez, a South Los Angeles resident, said the treatment of lower-working-class people by police in areas such as MacArthur Park is much different from the way wealthier people are treated in such places as Beverly Hills or Malibu. “As long as we have this brown skin, it’s never going to change,” Hernandez said. Marisol Guevara, 16, a resident of the MacArthur Park neighborhood, was at the May 1 rally and witnessed some of the violence. She said some of the officers’ actions that day betrayed the trust of many innocent people. “There were a lot of people getting hurt for no reason,” she said. “They made a little thing into a big thing. It was crazy that day. It was the craziest day. … There were a lot of kids, a lot of moms, a lot of old people. I was trying to help the old people. … It was really not necessary.” She hopes the report will lead to significant change. “It’s good if they learn,” Guevara said, adding that the LAPD should make sure more Spanish-speaking officers are on site when working a similar event. Seventy-two-year-old Micaela Chavez has worked at the same newsstand near the corner of Alvarado and Seventh streets, selling novela magazines and cigarettes, for 30 years. Acknowledging the difficult task of effective police work, Chavez had one question: “Why are they fighting with the Latino people who they’re supposed to serve?” [email protected] (818) 713-3329160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas City“These riots are not an isolated thing,” Batrez said. “It’s been going on for years.” Rogelio Garcia, a teacher at Soledad, who was leading Batrez and a group of girls through a physical-education class at the park Tuesday, said as long as LAPD officer-discipline hearings are not open to the public, he doesn’t hold out much hope that Tuesday’s report will improve things. “We have to hold them responsible to the community,” Garcia said. Others said that problems with the department, as well as other law enforcement agencies, have been brewing for decades. And the May Day melee has only heightened the Latino community’s mistrust of the police, they said. “Remember what happened in East Los Angeles?” said Jose Hernandez, 40, who operates a lunch truck across the street from the park. last_img

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