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LAPD’s Use of Force Questioned

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Artists who claim they were raided by police Jan. 5 at a Crenshaw district music and arts center showed videotaped footage at a news conference Thursday that they claimed illustrated excessive police force.

Two men were arrested and four officers suffered minor injuries during what police described as a confrontation between 150 patrons and 60 officers in riot gear at Kaos Network in Leimert Park Village.

The footage showed lines of police forcing the occupants of Kaos Network down the street and beating at least three people with batons.

Ben Caldwell, the owner of Kaos Network, said the occupants were surrounded by police and could not leave the area, and were subsequently forced to move down 43rd Place toward Crenshaw Boulevard.

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“It was a show of force that was unnecessary,” said Richard Fulton, owner of 5th Street Dick’s Coffeehouse, located down the block from Kaos Network.

Caldwell claimed that at least 100 officers arrived at the scene in three waves, along with dozens of black-and-white police cars and several helicopters.

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But Paul Marks, captain of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Southwest Division, said there were 60 officers at the scene, most of them officers in his division responding to a call for backup from the vice squad, which had initiated the raid.

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The incident, which Marks categorized as a “major disturbance,” took place after the vice squad apparently shut down Kaos Network about 11:30 p.m. for being overcrowded and after alleged complaints from businesses.

A woman who said she was a patron told reporters Thursday that she was holding a cup of hot tea when a police officer pushed her and she spilled the tea on him. The woman, who refused to give her name, said the officer became angry and tried to hit her, but she ducked and he struck another woman. A man jumped in to try to rescue the women, she said, but officers threw him to the ground. She said this provoked the crowd to start throwing bottles, chairs and desks at police.

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Los Angeles Police Chief Willie L. Williams said at a monthly press briefing Thursday morning that the Internal Affairs Division is investigating the disturbance.

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The incident occurred during Kaos Network’s weekly Thursday night “Project Blowed Workshop,” which participants described as a multimedia arts center where young people learn how to create and record hip-hop music and make videos and films.


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