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Beware Charlie Beck: Fallout from Police Riot at 2007 May Day Protest Stains Bill Bratton’s Reputation Once Again

EDITOR’S NOTE: Top Cop Bill Bratton was a public relations whiz, wrapping LA’s second-rate politicians and media around his nimble fingers — only the May Day 2007 police riot and his handling afterwards ever stained his reputation. The fallout from that incident continues with a court ruling last week that focused on his illegal demotion of Officer Mark Blizzard for excessive use of force against the media that day. Charlie Beck is no Bill Bratton and his special treatment of unlicensed and lawbreaking illegal immigrants will inevitably stain his reputation far worse over time. 

It was the worst day in Bill Bratton’s friendly, new LAPD — May Day 2007, the day when crack Metro Division cops rioted breaking up an immigrant rights protests of thousands in MacArthur Park.

Provoked by agitators throwing rocks and plastic bottles, an overwhelming force of 600 out-of-control cops in riot gear waded into the crowd swinging their batons, firing 146 rubber bullets, violently pushing protesters and news media out of their way as they cleared the street.

Bratton, the master politician, took charge of managing the crisis with every elected official from the mayor on down following his lead with promises of investigations to “determine if the use of force was appropriate.”

By the end of May with the uproar still growing, the chief announced there had been “a command and control breakdown,” demoted the deputy chief involved and created a new training bureau. Four months later, he completed his investigation but it took nearly a year longer before he decided 17 Metro officers and two sergeants should be disciplined and another six months for the city to settle claims for $13 million.

The goal all along was to get closure on a major political problem but last week, the May Day police riot had yet another fallout: Officer Mark Blizzard who was reprimanded, demoted and reassigned for his actions won a unanimous verdict from a three-judge state Court of Appeals panel that Bratton abused his authority in the case. (Blizzard-Appeal)

In Bratton’s haste to find fall guys for what went wrong, laws and procedures were trampled on at least in the case of Blizzard – a Patrol Officer III who the court noted had an “exemplary” record with extremely positive evaluations, which probably says more about the quality of LAPD’s review process as it does about Blizzard.

Blizzard was charged with seven acts of misconduct regarding the unnecessary use of force arising out of a crowd control incident, two of them involving TV cameramen.

In mid-2008, some 15 months after the incident, police brass took the extraordinary step of demoting and reassigning Blizzard and three other officers even before they got hearings on the charges.

Bratton overruled his staff and imposed the punishment immediately which became a problem since at his Board of Rights, Blizzard beat the rap on the five civilian assaults but not the two involving the media.  Here’s what the appeals court said:

As to the issue of penalty, the Board of Rights recommended that Officer Blizzard be officially reprimanded. The Board of Rights concluded that Officer Blizzard was an outstanding officer, who was remorseful and contrite.  The Board found that Officer Blizzard’s actions were not malicious and neither of the cameramen was seriously injured.

Bratton didn’t care what the Board or anyone except the media as his quotes cited by the court makes clear and so he trampled on the law, due process and LAPD procedures and imposed the penalties anyway — actions that were repudiated by the court in reinstating Blizzard’s rank and position, and awarding him back pay for four years plus the costs incurred by the Police Protective League in defending him.

“I agree that Officer Blizzard’s lack of judgment in the unauthorized use of force, particularly given that the unauthorized force was against media members who were no threat to Blizzard, is further reason to keep Officer Blizzard out of Metropolitan Division and reject the request to transfer him back to Metropolitan Division.

Officer Blizzard’s misconduct, along with that of others in Metropolitan Division on May 1, 2007, brought public disgrace to the Los Angeles Police Department.  The misconduct was filmed by news media and broadcast for days afterwards.  The effects of Officer Blizzard’s misconduct was not trivial to either the persons he struck, to the community, or to the Department.”

The emphasis has been added to make it clear just how political Bratton was and how his eye was on how things played in the media since he found LA’s politicians so weak and lazy that he could manipulate them at will without risk.
COMING SOON: Chief Charlie Beck’s Special Treatment of Illegal Immigrants and the Risk to Public Safety
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9 Responses to Beware Charlie Beck: Fallout from Police Riot at 2007 May Day Protest Stains Bill Bratton’s Reputation Once Again

  1. Anonymous says:

    The problem here is that LAPD officers are rarely convicted for their crimes. Have you noticed the millions of dollars that are paid out to individual officers for their internal retaliation claims against LAPD from the General Fund. There are only two types of LAPD lawsuits–against them or them against the city. Either way, the city pays. We need serious reform of this police force. Bratton was a smuck and so is Beck. The former controlled the politicians and the latter is their lapdog. Who benefits?

  2. Ricardo says:

    The rank and file do not like nor respect this top management team of Charlie Beck and his croonies. Beck has promoted all friends making sure they will retire nicely. But there’s no money to promote any P3′s, Sgts., etc. Its a double standard. The patrol cop gets nailed at every turn from a supervisor but Charlie’s boys or those who kiss his butt are saved. There are horror stories rank and file will tell you at every station of how unfair Beck and his guys have been. Rumor has it Beck wasn’t the Chief selected but the corrupt Mayor decided cause he knew he could maniuplate Charlie. Angelenos support Officers but don’t trust top command. Beck has made LA just like Mayor a 3rd world City and Tijuana. They need to retire Paysinger, MacArthur, Moore, Beck, Jacobs, etc. They all have complaints in files so why are they still here?

    • L.A. "Corruption is thy name" says:

      I have lived in LA over 40 years, and the quality of the LAPD has increased significantly. Most my contact, however, is with the officers, the SLO’s and occasionally the local Chief. When matters go higher than that, the law become quite malleable.

      All departments are under the pressure of the unnecessary financial squeeze from the Mayor and City Council who lavish literally billions of tax dollars on real estate developers while starving the LAFD, paramedics, and the LAFD.

      When the top is corrupt, those beholden to them are corrupt, lying SOB’s. Los Angeles is not run by the Rule of Law but by the Whim of Men.

      As citizens we should be extra thankful that so many police officers, firemen, and paramedics do not allow the shabby way City Hall treats them cause them to treat us similarly. Let’s remember, if we citizens had satisfactorily performed our role as citizens, City Hall would not be a Temple to Crimogenics.

    • Sierra says:

      Your comment: “But there’s no money to promote any P3′s, Sgts., etc. Its a double standard.”

      I agree with your point about a double standard and I have no sympathy for LAPD managers.

      This may sound harsh, but in this economy, especially since the meltdown of 2008, LAPD officers should be quite thankful for their jobs, pensions, and healthcare benefits even if there isn’t much promotional opportunity.

      In terms of a double standard, 90% of the taxpayers funding LAPD don’t get any of the benefits of the entry level or even 5th year Police Officers.

      I’m all for cutting out, downsizing, and reducing the pay of LAPD brass, but don’t forget who is paying all the bills for both the rank and file and the LAPD managers.

      And don’t forget that many construction workers and those in other fields of work face higher risks than Police officers but work in cyclical industries with boom and bust cycles and find it hard to maintain a stable life for their families. They would love to have a pension that even pays 60% of their salary after 30 years, be able to retire at 55, and not worry about health care benefits.

  3. anonymous says:

    It’s my understanding that there are almost 70 some officers whose only job is overseeing social media. Can someone confirm if this is true?

    • MissAnthrope says:

      that might be true considering days off, vacation time, sick days and it must be a mind-numbing job. the purpose of mining social media is to track gang activity, other criminal activities and possible terrorist attacks.

      just going after criminal gang members would be enough justification for me for l.a.p.d. to have that many ‘miners’ on the job.

    • anonymous says:

      message for those LAPD officials (or FEDS)
      “tracking gang(ster) activity and other (organized) criminal activities”…
      pay attention to pantheon of criminals entrenched in LA bureaucracy…
      please, start tracking and exposing their criminal enterprises…

  4. Bob "Mitt" Blumenstuff says:

    Charlie Beck would make a great City Councilman (like me!) Maybe he can take over for LaBonge in 2015. We’ll need a 2 job-pensioner when Parks and Zine leave the Council. Beck will obey the campaign donors without exception. He’s the perfect politician!

  5. Teddy says:

    I used to think “experience” was good. It depends –
    is the candidate concerned about the city? Or, his/her own career?

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