Labor leaders and immigrant groups are conducting a huge protest near LAX this afternoon and evening. And LAPD appears to have done some of them a favor by making sure some folks with outstanding warrants don’t get arrested.
Four hundred people will be arrested early this evening for blocking Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport, in what could prove to be one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in the city’s history.
. . . .
If the event goes as envisioned, organizers say, it will be a highly choreographed episode of street theater, timed for news broadcasts and peaceful enough to persuade but not enrage the public.
I may not be enraged, but I’m certainly irritated. Here’s why:
Organizers obtained a permit this week for 1,000 to 2,000 marchers. About 400 of them have signed forms pledging to be arrested and have taken a mandatory class that taught them how to remain calm even when screamed at or insulted.
The driver’s license numbers and other personal information of those volunteer arrestees have already been passed on to the LAPD to expedite processing. (Police sent word that six of the volunteers should rethink their participation; though no official reason was given, the six may have outstanding warrants, union officials said).
I don’t get it. Some folks are announcing their intention in advance to commit an illegal (and highly annoying) act: blocking traffic around an airport, which carries a high likelihood of causing a lot of people to miss their flights. Then police discover that some of the incipient lawbreakers have outstanding warrants. Instead of doing what you’d expect — i.e., breaking out the handcuffs and rubbing their hands together in anticipation — the police warn them off???
Police actually have to devote resources to going out and catching people with outstanding warrants. Here, they wouldn’t have to devote any additional resources. The folks are going to be arrested anyway.
It would be like going out fishing, having six large fish jump into the boat, and throwing them back. Actually, it’s dumber than that, because people fish for sport, so throwing back fish you didn’t catch fair and square might make sense. But arresting people on warrants is a serious enterprise that takes police resources to accomplish. If these fish are jumping in the boat, you cuff ‘em and take ‘em downtown.
We don’t know if the warrants are for something relatively picayune, like traffic tickets, or something more substantive, like DUI or domestic violence — or even something worse. The police aren’t saying. And the L.A. Times is apparently not asking. There is no evidence that the paper put the question to anyone in the LAPD.
If we had a decent paper, reporters would be pressing the police as to whether participants were warned off because they have warrants — and if so, what the warrants were for.
Since we don’t have a decent paper, don’t expect to see a story on it anytime soon.