Last night we detailed irresponsible behavior and reporting by the LAPD and Los Angeles' NBC affiliate in regard to false reports of "$15,000 worth of damage" said caused by Trayvon Martin protesters who, the reporter claimed, had "stormed" a hotel in Hollywood on Sunday night.
As we reported exclusively last night, two spokespersons from the hotel in question disputed the LAPD/NBC4 reports to The BRAD BLOG, describing them as "false." Moreover, video --- even the video shown by NBC4 --- available from a day of largely peaceful protests the day after the George Zimmerman "not guilty" verdict was announced in Florida, seems to have revealed violence that day only by baton-wielding police, who also fired rubber bullets at demonstrators at various points throughout the day.
While the behavior of corporate media and police in the instances described last night was reprehensible and dangerous, at the same time it's also worth highlighting some of the responsible behavior by the LAPD that night, particularly after a very long day of protests which cropped up throughout the day and night at various locations across the city.
One such moment very much worth highlighting occurred at the height of Sunday's protests in Hollywood, not long after midnight, just in front of the CNN building on Sunset Blvd. NBC4's NewsChopper4 reporter Megan Reyes (who, as we discussed in the previous article, had falsely reported "rowdy behavior" by protesters "breaking glass" at the W Hotel in Hollywood, among other misinformation), described this particular group of 50 or so protesters in Hollywood as "the largest pocket of protesters in the city" at that point.
What she could not report on from several thousand feet in the air, however, was what was actually going on on the ground, as captured by video web-streamer "PMbeers". The live, on-the-ground reporting by the live web-streamer revealed not only peaceful, organized discussion of planning for next steps by demonstrators and their hopes of meeting with public officials in coming days, but an absolutely fascinating moment captured on video (see below) when LAPD Captain Cory Palka addressed the group of protesters directly, respectfully and peacefully...
Palka was, according to an LAPD media representative we spoke with on Monday, the commanding officer of the Hollywood patrol Sunday night. Just after the marching path of the demonstrators had been cut off by the LAPD on most sides in front of the CNN building and the gathering was declared to be an "unlawful assembly", Palka approached the gathered group --- without any sort of riot gear or otherwise intimidating weaponry --- and announced "I'm gonna help you guys". He then offered a rather thoughtful speech about respecting their "commitment and passion for justice", sharing their "difficulty with what happened 3,00 miles away", and "honoring" the protesters' "need and desire to show [their] frustration"...
Here's the text of Palka's brief and seemingly very friendly and supportive remarks to the group. A video of his conversation with protesters, as culled from PMbeers' longer archive of the night's events on the ground in Hollywood, is posted at the end of this article...
I, like you, am an Angelino. I have lived here for 50 years in this city. I, like you, have compassion, have energy and I have difficulty with what happened 3,000 miles away and I honor your ability and your need and desire to show your frustration and to be heard. I feel that in my heart!
I understand...So, here's my message to you. I honor your commitment and your passion for justice --- from the bottom of my heart. You guys have been tireless and energetic about your cause.
At the same time, we are in the city of Los Angeles, standing in the middle of the street. Okay? We have to have some type of order.
So, what I want to do is, one, I have talked to Charlia [spelling?], she has my contact information and she has --- we are going to try and meet in a week to have an open air discussion on some of your views.
QUESTION FROM DEMONSTRATOR: What would you have us do, man?
PALKA: So I would like to say --- I would like to ask you to continue to facilitate your movement southbound on Cahuenga here. We will continue to protect and honor your Constitutional rights of freedom to march in protest.
Is that agreeable to the group?
Some in the group expressed concerns about being forced to march south, "back to the ghetto", rather than north into what the protester described as "the good neighborhoods". But, the bulk of the demonstrators, after Palka's speech, largely began to disperse after his pleas and offer to meet with and help the group in the coming days.
His remarks were lauded on Twitter by some watching the web-stream live that night. "Could L.A. have the West Coast Hipster Cop?," snarked LA documentary filmmaker John W. Ennis, who added "This LAPD officer should have his own talk show."
"Listen to me," said one of the demonstrators after Palka spoke. "Everything we've done tonight has gotten attention. Now we need to move about it the right away. Now we need to take it to public forums," the woman (possibly "Charlia"?) who had been leading the group said, as they --- and Palka --- applauded her. "Now we have to take it to officials, okay? That's how we have to do it! Now we need to move out of the streets. We have demonstrated, now we need to continue! That's what we do --- we continue! Alright?"
We can't speak to Palka's sincerity, of course. But his seemingly very earnest approach was a welcome change of pace from the LAPD's earlier baton-swinging and rubber-bullet shooting and, it can be argued, a far more effective, humane and respectful technique to use with the very citizens that the LAPD is sworn "to protect and serve".
This short video clip was culled, with permission (and a helping hand from Margot Paez), from the longer UStream video shot by "PMbeers" on the night of 7/14/2013, as LAPD Capt. Cory Palka addressed the group of Trayvon Martin demonstrators in the street near the CNN building in Hollywood, CA...