Why L.A. is the safest large city to hold a demonstration in.
No one had been killed or beaten in demonstrations by police in L.A. for over 4 years now. This stands in marked contrast to many other big cities. The primary reason for this is the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) , those observers in the iridescent green caps, who are present at progressive protests, marches, and rallies nationwide. They watch the police, they negotiate with the police, they’ve more than once faced down police. Here in LA, on multiple occasions, they have sued the police and won, when the police pulled bullshit at a demo.
So, LAPD knows the NLG are quite capable of making life difficult for them. Thus, they are more prone to negotiate. And guess what, this makes everything go much more smoothly and peaceful, which makes things easier for everyone involved. What a concept.
Last night the Los Angeles chapter of NLG had their annual awards dinner and fundraiser. Honored were guerilla poster artist Robbie Conal, homeless and tenant rights lawyer Elena Popp, and ANSWER LA organizer (and friend) Preston Wood. Several hundred people were present. Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, did a hilarious presentation of the award to Robbie Conal. Former US Att’y Gen. Ramsey Clark was scheduled to present the award to Preston Wood, however Clark is recuperating from an auto accident, so Brian Becker, east coast ANSWER organizer, substituted for him, detailing Preston’s decades of activism, which started in the 60’s and has never stopped. Elena Popp, among other accomplishments, organized in Santa Monica so that those arrested for being homeless (why is being homeless a crime at all???), were instead given chances at housing, jobs, and another chance at life.
The NLG started in 1937 when FDR, who was being attacked hard by lawyers opposed to his New Deal, said, where are the lawyers who will defend what I am doing? Thus the NLG was born. One of the co-founders, whose name I missed, was at the dinner, and received well-deserved applause.
The NLG does huge behind the scenes work. Most big demonstrations (as well as smaller ones) would not happen if not for their expertise and commitment.