The past week has not been an easy time for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and some of the community members who controlled them.
Over the weekend, an Instagram video viralized an incident in Santa Clarita Valley that took place after three skateboarding kids, two of whom happened to be black, were physically molested by a homeless man brandishing a knife, which drew onlookers , including the manager of the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings, to call the police to help the children. But when the Los Angeles County Sheriff's MPs arrived on the scene, they held the two black teenagers at gunpoint with terrifying intensity and reportedly did not bother about the knife with the homeless man.
"My son and friends will never forget that," wrote Tammi Collins, the mother of one of the skaters who were held at gunpoint by LASD MPs and who posted one of the Instagram videos of the incident. "I still wonder how I can ever help my son recover from this traumatic experience. Please pray for my family."
On Monday afternoon, Sheriff Alex Villanueva made an announcement about the incident, also on Instagram, saying he had "concerns about the tactics used" and "the matter is being investigated".
On Friday, an Op-Ed was posted in the Washington Post by León Krauze, the Main anchor at KMEX, Univision's Los Angeles station, suggested that the LA sheriff's department "cease to stand and respond for the murder of Andrés Guardado".
And there's the ongoing edition of The Executioners, the latest surrogate gang to get the public's attention thanks to the story WitnessLA released late last month.
In the past few days, another MP has been preparing to file a civil rights lawsuit against the department for experience of this tattooed surrogate clique operating from the LASD's Compton station.
(More on that later.)
And on Sunday, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, along with fellow parishioners Carlos Granda and Lisa Bartley of ABC7, shared a series of painful stories of mistreatment by Compton Sheriff's MPs, some of which only recently happened when they were investigating the station "Rogue Deputy Gang". According to Sunday's ABC7 story, Compton officials continue to question their contract with the LASD on behalf of the police.
About these proxy gangs
A new, well-researched report delves into the corrosive effects deputy gangs in the Los Angeles District Sheriff's Department have had and are having on the district's Constitutional Police – meaning law enforcement agencies upholding the civil rights of those people living in the communities, that are monitored.
The report is due to appear in September. However, WitnessLA has received a preview of the 28-page draft report entitled Fifty Years of Deputy Gangs in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department: Identifying the Causes and Impacts to Advocate for Meaningful Reform can give the conclusions that the researchers have drawn.
The report was authored by the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy (CJLP), a prestigious group of legal clinics at Loyola Law School (founded in 2004 by defense attorney Cyn Yamashiro) that trains law students to "holistically portray vulnerable juveniles in delinquency" and this free of charge.
The clinic is overseen by Loyola law professor Sean Kennedy, who was formerly the Federal Public Defender for California's Central District.
For the past several years, in addition to teaching and mentoring with Loyola, Kennedy has served on the Civilian Oversight Commission (COC) of the LA County's Sheriff's Department. He is the COC-based expert on the clique issue.
However, according to Kennedy, circumstances other than his oversight duties have put the LASD proxy cliques on his radar.
He explained how members of his clinic are volunteering clients in East LA, South LA and other Los Angeles neighborhoods in juvenile courts. Unsurprisingly, many of the clinic's young clients are involved in gangs – or are accused, sometimes when they aren't – and thus have been charged with gang enhancement, Kennedy said.
When his young lawyers met with the children, their clients repeatedly described disruptive behavior by local MPs. "Look at the sheriff who arrested me and is the gang expert," they said, or, in appropriate words, "he's in a gang himself."
At first, this seemed like an extraordinary claim, Kennedy said. But after he and his clinic members heard the same message over and over again, they began a new type of due diligence.
"And when we looked into that, we found serious evidence that the kids might be right."
This pattern attracted him and his law students to delve into the history of surrogate gangs or cliques in general as well as the cliques that appeared to be the most active, which in turn spawned a number of articles for the COC. that WLA previously quoted.
In addition to providing an overview of the department's surrogate cliques and gangs, the new report analyzes the bigger picture of how the LASD's "surrogate gangs" have negatively impacted Los Angeles police work while making the fairness of trials difficult "Infected" In Los Angeles Superior Court.
"We have at least a 50-year history of unchecked deputy gangs in the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department," Kennedy told WitnessLA. "The East LA station is something of an incubator for vicarious gangs," he said, referring to the historical vicarious clique "Little Devils" or "Red Devils" who were already stationed at the station in East Los Angeles in 1970, the report said, "makes it one of the earliest known surrogate gangs."
Now, of course, the little devils have long been gone. Instead, the station is home to the banditos and a station motto that characterizes the station as Fort Apache, a reference to which the report points out: “It is reminiscent of the 1948 John Ford Western of the same name, which has a remote control inside. Cavalry is surrounded by enemies who white officers consider dangerous "savages". "
A vicarious gang, as the report defines it, is a subculture within the ward “that has chosen to meet secretly and get numbered tattoos, usually on the ankle or calf (but sometimes in other locations).
The tattoo, the CJLP authors write, "is usually a menacing figure," like a skeleton with a gun. The tattooed images “celebrate violence” and are sometimes numbered so you know who was included in the gang.
In cases of certain gangs, "if you commit a police shooting or an act of violence, you can have your tattoo enhanced or embellished," the report's authors write. And the decorations are a sign of status.
“The gangs have a us-versus-them culture at the station, where the deputy gang members consider themselves the best, most aggressive Gung Ho law enforcement officers. And they encourage a persistent, violent approach to policing. "
In general, the surrogate gangs thrive in fighting communities like East LA, South LA and Compton, as well as in the Antelope Valley stations, where the rattlesnakes are a surrogate clique.
(Regarding the rattlesnakes, the report notes that the existence of this particular clique is confirmed by a 2013 report from the US Department of Justice which found that "some Antelope Valley MPs have tattoos or paraphernalia with an intimidating one." Skull and snake symbol as a sign of sharing your affiliation with the Antelope Valley stations, "according to the DOJ writings." Although there are different interpretations of what these tattoos symbolize, they provide an undeniable visual representation of a rift between MPs and the community and are an unfortunate reminder of the history of LASD symbols in the context of problematic proxy behavior. "
A blueprint for change
When asked what he and his team aim to achieve with the CJLP report, Kennedy told WitnessLA that he and his student researchers describe the report as "objective and fair" with a blueprint for change.
The surrogate gang problem has been going on for 50 years and all district institutions are looking the other way. "And I think almost everyone understands that ignoring the problem allowed the surrogate gangs to multiply and made everything connected with them worse."
According to Kennedy, the goal is to "have real conversations" about what to do.
“There's no doubt we have a problem with surrogate gangs. The jury isn't out. The idea that this is an open question for the Rand Corporation misses the point. I think the real question is, well Since we admit we're growing this monster, how can we fix it? "
It is this final question that has to do with solutions that Kennedy and his volunteer law students have been working on for the past two years.
According to Kennedy, a critical first step is “to require the sheriff to publish everything that is known about the various gangs and cliques. And then we have to ask ourselves why all these young MPs want to participate. Why is this an attractive option? "
The other critical question, according to Kennedy, is, "Why do we see these militaristic cliques year after year with names and symbols vilifying the people they are supposed to help?"
Kennedy mentions former President Barack Obama's 2015 Task Force on Policing in the 21st Century, "which repeatedly talks about policing from the perspective of a fundamental question:" Do you have a war-police culture or a guard-police culture? "
According to Kennedy, the report is not intended to criticize department members. Kennedy has been with the COC for a few years and understands the challenges the police face on a daily basis.
"And I've met so many people in the department that I respect and like."
But "overall," he said for all these good people, "there is a dangerous culture of us against them, a culture of warrior and army of occupation that permeates the institution."
While "the guard police culture cares what the members of the community under surveillance think".
The warrior culture, however, sees command and control as the highest value.
Exceptionalism, but not good
According to the Kennedy / Loyola Reports Past and Present, LASD management has frequently found that there are law enforcement gangs in many other departments.
"But my students and I have advertised national newspapers and have found no coverage of law enforcement gangs in any jurisdiction other than for shorter periods in New Orleans and Oakland," Kennedy said.
This suggests that the problem is more unique to LASD than management would like to admit.
Additionally, he said, "The LA sheriffs elected failure to do anything positive to investigate the internal gangs is probably one of the main reasons they have lasted so long."
Yes, the LAPD had its infamous Wall department in the early 1990s, a massive scandal that led to a shrewd federal approval decree. While the LAPD still has some significant challenges to face, concern about gangster cops on the street has rarely been one of them. After the Rampart debacle, some department heads, including the then head of the LAPD's training department in 2002, George Gasćon (who is now running for LA District Attorney against incumbent Jackie Lacey) and a year later LAPD boss Bill Bratton, both made use of the consent decree as an instrument to implement urgently needed reforms in order to move the departmental culture in the direction of the constitutional police.
But decade after decade, write the Loyola researchers, the LASD, under administration after administration, has refused to meet its urgent need for such reforms when it comes to cliques.
Holding on to vicarious cliques has been costly, according to the report, which cites the Inspector General's estimate that LA County has spent at least $ 50 million on settlements and judgments related to violence and wrongdoing by well-known MPs since 1990 at a Clique Tattoo.
But, write to the authors, the actual settlement amount is likely to be far higher, because – unless civil rights lawyers manage to find evidence of badged gangsters who were prominently implicated in their client's case: "The LASD management has refused to investigate whether a proxy is involved in a shooting is linked to a proxy gang. "
(One of the most famous cases where a victim knew a deputy gangster was involved was the unlawful conviction of Franky Carrillo, followed by 20 years in prison for the child who had no criminal record. Carrillo always knew his Conviction of at least one admitted member of the Lynwood Vikings who had tampered with evidence was substantially supported. In Carrillo's case, his attorney Ron Kaye, who arranged for the deputy gang issue to be included, received a $ 10.1 million settlement. Dollars for his client.)
The to-do list
In its final section, dealing with solutions, the CJLP report refers to the 21st century police model, which is "public transparency, meaningful collaboration with regulators, working with community-level organizations, and real accountability for wrongdoing Deputies emphasized ".
Implementing such a "constitutional and community police" model would, according to the authors of the report, be the best path for cultural change "and the eradication of surrogate gangs and cliques within the LASD".
But this rule is also pretty general. With this in mind, the report contains nine specific recommendations:
- The LASD should enforce its new directive (3-01 / 050.83) which prohibits MPs from participating in sub-groups that violate the rights of others.
- The LASD should recognize the existence of all known surrogate gangs and cliques and disclose all internal documents about the gangs and cliques in accordance with the Public Records Act.
- Los Angeles assistant district attorneys should affirm the sheriff's deputies who are expected to testify as witnesses to the prosecution as to whether they belong to a deputy gang or clique, and if so, to that affiliation to the defense prior to trial according to Brady v. Maryland.
- The defense attorney should take Pitchess against the Superior Court to determine if the sheriff deputies involved in the investigation into the criminal offenses are from a surrogate gang or clique.
- The Los Angeles Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission (COC) was designed to house town halls in east Los Angeles, south Los Angeles, Compton, and the Antelope Valley to solicit community contributions to surrogate gangs or cliques operating in these areas.
- The COC should instruct the Inspector General's Office to investigate all current deputy gangs and, if necessary, use its subpoena powers to obtain testimony and documents relating to the deputy gangs.
- The sheriff should regularly attend public hearings of the COC to speak with the commission and members of the community about how to address the longstanding problem of surrogate gangs and cliques within the department.
- An institutional defense lawyer or non-profit organization should create and maintain a database of all MPs known to be members of a surrogate gang or clique and catalog specific misconduct related to the gang or clique.
- "The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors should instruct its attorney to stop seeking non-disclosure agreements as a condition for resolving civil claims if the NDA makes it easier to hide the misconduct of surrogate gangs from the public.
When the final CJLP report is released next month, we look forward to seeing how it comes in.
More as we know it.
Photo on top of the East LA community speaking through WitnessLA about vicarious gangs on Thursday, July 11, 2019