Civil Unrest 2020 City of Los Angeles

On June 30, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a motion which instructed the Los Angeles Police Department to complete an analysis addressing the department’s crowd control tactics and compliance with existing departmental policies and legal mandates during the civil unrest resulting from the death of George Floyd. 

The civil unrest and protests started on May 27, 2020 and continued for several weeks. 

Initially the protests were initiated by individuals so that they could verbally express themselves in a non-violent way as guaranteed under their 1st Amendment. marching to show and voice their concerns and anger in how George Floyd died and questioning national police (Law Enforcement) policy surrounding the use of force and demanding national police reform. What subsequently evolved from peaceful marches and verbal freedom of expression within the city of Los Angeles and surrounding cities, escalated into massive civil unrest. 

Three After Action Reports were completed surrounding the 2020 Civil Unrest. I will reference two of these reports: 

  1. An Independent Examination of the Los Angeles Police Department 2020 Protest Response. Report by Independent Council Gerald 
  1. Safe LA Civil Unrest 2020 After Action Report. Michel R. Moore Chief of Police LAPD. 

Weeks prior to May 27, 2020, protesters (Black Lives Matter and other activist groups) had gathered in front of the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice  to voice their concerns surrounding then Los Angeles County District Attorney's Jackie Lacey failure to hold members of law enforcement accountable for officers use of force resulting in death or injuries to people of color. Prior to May 27, these protests were uneventful and peaceful in nature. 

But this was not the case on May 27. From a small group of protesters, it grew throughout the evening into hundreds of protesters. LAPD did not anticipate this, nor were they prepared what followed. It can be stated that the protesters were very well organized in their quest to disrupt traffic, block freeway on and off ramps in the downtown LA area and create havoc. This was repeated during the next two nights within the downtown Los Angeles area 

The protesters broke up into several groups, each heading into various directions resulting in LAPD's being unable to monitor their actions and behavior. Widespread vandalism, looting, trash fires, and destruction of property followed. These  protesters also threw rocks, bricks, water bottles filled with ice and sand, firecrackers  and other items at police officers. The estimate of private property damage is in the thousands of dollars. 

Because LAPD did not foresee or anticipate this type of response from the protesters, especially on May 29, and because they were understaffed, the LAPD Operation Central Bureau had to call in reinforcements from LAPD West Bureau. Many LAPD officers and CHP officers sustained injuries and several marked LAPD vehicles were damaged.

One of the critiques noted was that there was not a complete comprehensive Central Bureau Command post established which resulted in the command staff not being aware of all the problems,  destruction, vandalism and looting, trash fires, and civil unrest taking place within the downtown LA area. 

Let’s not forget the physical assaults on police officers and CHP officers. 

It was later discovered there were stockpiles of large rocks and bricks set aside on street corners by protesters to use as weapons against law enforcement officers. 

On May 30, the protesters, activists, and demonstrators numbered in the thousands. As the peaceful marchers demonstrated  and voiced their concerns in the West LA areas of Melrose, Fairfax, Beverly, and the Grove, bad actors had infiltrated the peaceful groups. The organizers of the marchers had now lost complete control and large groups of the marchers as aired on local and national television had turned aggressive, violent, and destructive.

LAPD again was caught completely off guard. They lacked the manpower to provide public safety for innocent persons and the protection of private property and businesses in this area. 

Initially LAPD West Bureau command staff failed to establish a command post. After two failures to establish a command post at Wilshire Division, a command post was established at CBS studios. 

Unlike LAPD Central Bureau, LAPD West Bureau Command staff was aware in advance of the planned protest marches, yet they failed on how to organize and deploy their police officers so they could protect not only the demonstrators, but the residents and businesses located within this community of Los Angeles. 

Also, West Bureau command staff failed to realize that many of their assigned police personnel were unavailable because they were deployed to Central Bureau the night before and had been deployed until the early morning hours. 

There was a severe breakdown of communication between those undercover police officers who had infiltrated the protest groups and obtained vital intelligence information because they were unable to communicate their findings to command staff due to problems with their communication devices. 

Even prior to the deployment of LAPD officers many protesters were already setting fires, vandalizing, and looting private businesses. 

Operation West Bureau was made aware of a rally taking place at the Pan Pacific Park, yet they failed to properly prepare for police deployment at this intended peaceful event. The event went sideways and those in attendance ended up surrounding a Metro Transit bus. 

The  Metro Transit bus was traveling on 3rd and Fairfax Avenues which held passengers and was completely surrounded by the protesters. The so-called peaceful marchers then started throwing rocks and bricks at the Metro bus. Police officers responded but they also became surrounded. More resources had to be deployed. 

ow I ask, why would peaceful marchers, protesters go after a Metro bus full of passengers? 

Mutual Aid was requested and many outside Law Enforcement agencies responded to assist LAPD. 

Many LAPD officers have stated that once the Los Angeles County Sheriff's responded it saved the lives of both LAPD officers, peaceful marchers, and aggressive protesters. 

As aired on both local and national television the California National Guard was walking around the  parking lot of the Los Angeles Convention Center as Mayor Garcetti had failed to mobilize them on May30. Where was our mayor? What was he thinking of? And what was he waiting for? 

Also aired on both local and national television were carloads of both young people and adults driving up to store fronts, businesses, and restaurants with the vehicles license plates covered vandalizing, stealing, and setting fires. 

Marchers and protesters turned on police officers throwing, rocks, bricks, water bottles filled with ice and sand and other projectiles. 

In all more than 200-300 LAPD officers sustained some type of injuries, some serious, moderate and others minor. 

More than 100 LAPD marked vehicles sustained damages and more than 50 marked police vehicles were completely destroyed. Average cost $50,000 to $70,000 each. 

Two high ranking members of LAPD West Bureau Command staff both now retired had no notion as to what in the hell they were doing on May 30. There was also another West Bureau Command staff member who also had no notion as what they were doing and was recently  rewarded by being promoted. 

Many protesters and marchers also sustained injuries as a result of being struck by non-lethal weapons, namely rubber and foam projectiles. 

Both reports noted that many LAPD officers lacked proper crowd control training. However, as per LAPD policy, each and every police officer is mandated to attend Mobile Field Force Training. So what happened? 

Individuals believe that some LAPD officers were given either the 37 or 40 non-lethal weapons to use if needed and justified towards the aggressive protesters who had not been trained in the use these non-lethal weapons. 

In the Chaleff report, it is noted that the second in charge of LAPD at the time, Assistant Chief Robert Arcos, did not take an active role of any kind surrounding the events pre- and post-Civil Unrest.   Robert Arcos retired from the Los Angeles Police Department and is now employed by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. 

Already, civil lawsuits have been filed naming both the Los Angeles Police Department and the City of Los Angeles. 

Two of the lawsuits have been adjudicated. How many more will there be? Why was the National Guard not deployed? The National Guard commander stated it was because they were not apprised of what they were expected to do. Once again, we see how Mayor Garcetti failed to do his job. If the National Guard had been deployed and positioned to stand in front of storefronts and businesses, that in itself would have been a deterrent at least to some degree. 

It is anticipated that additional civil lawsuits will follow as a result of the findings of these two After Action Reports. Each of the storefronts, businesses, restaurants, owners of the burned-out structures can now hold the City of Los Angeles accountable for their losses. 

It would be fair to state that the cost factor to settle all of these lawsuits could run in the millions of taxpayers’ dollars. 

I encourage everyone to read both of the noted After Action Reports. They both can be located online. 

I have been involved in many protest marches and activities. I believe in the right of all individuals to express their 1st Amendment rights of freedom of expression, freedom of speech and the right of peaceful assembly. However, expressing their 1st Amendment Rights does not mean they have the legal right to violate someone else's 1st Amendment Rights. When law enforcement declares an unlawful assembly and one is ordered to disband or a curfew order has been declared, then one must abide by the lawful order. 

Part Two coming next week: Taking a good look as to whom LAPD has recently promoted and those who remain on the LAPD Commanders Promotional List.


(Caroline Aguirre is a retired 24-year State of California law enforcement officer, LAPD family member, community activist and Neighborhood Watch captain. Aguirre is a CityWatch contributor.)

Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.