The Los Angeles Police Department’s violent response at the end of an immigrant demonstration is the latest incident illustrating what critics describe as the force’s “warrior culture,” reports the Associated Press. That ethos has been on display before: the use of clubs and tear gas to disperse 15,000 peaceful anti-war protesters in in 1967, the Watts riots, the 1991 Rodney King beating, the harsh crackdown on demonstrators at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
Chief William Bratton’s criticism of his department and quick reassignment of two high-ranking officers after the immigration rally were roundly applauded, though skeptics say it’s not nearly enough to address deep-seated issues that produce violent responses by some officers. “The LAPD is a big ocean liner and it will take a long time to turn around,” said Joe Domanick of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism. “(Bratton) has not focused on the paramilitary culture and us-against-them mentality that seems to still persist in the LAPD.” Civil rights attorney Connie Rice led an investigation after the so-called Rampart scandal and, in a 2000 report, found little had changed. An anti-gang unit known as CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) “developed an independent subculture that embodied a ‘war on gangs’ where the ends justified their needs,’ the report said. “They resisted supervision and control and ignored LAPD’s procedures and policies.”