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Bratton names protests manager

Times Staff Writer

Chief William J. Bratton on Wednesday told the Los Angeles City Council he is appointing a deputy chief to oversee a new bureau to manage protests and avoid a repeat of the breakdown in command that resulted in the melee May 1 at MacArthur Park, where officers struck demonstrators and journalists.

Bratton said he was assigning Deputy Chief Michael Hillman to head the Critical Incident Management Bureau, which would be in command at all major events and protests. The move comes as the LAPD is investigating the actions of officers who are seen on TV video firing less-than-lethal rounds and pushing around protesters and reporters at the May Day event.

Repeating what he told the Police Commission on Tuesday, Bratton in a preliminary report painted a picture of vague orders and top commanders who stood by during the incident in which 42 people were injured -- most by batons and foam bullets. He called the police action an aberration and singled out two members of his command staff for blame. They have been reassigned.

But some council members said that the presentation left too many questions hanging and that the continuing inquiry must provide real answers.

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Some council members suggested that a long-term problem with Los Angeles Police Department culture was involved. Councilman Bernard C. Parks showed a video from community members suggesting that the melee was the latest in a series of excessive-force incidents during Bratton’s nearly five-year tenure.

“We need to hold those accountable across the line for use of excessive force, regardless of rank, regardless of position,” Councilman Ed Reyes said. “There is real evidence that individuals did not treat the community as human beings, with dignity or respect. We anticipate that the real accountability will come with time.”

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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