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Group to protest LA school police department’s military weapons

Craig Clough | December 18, 2014



The Fight for the Soul of the Cities group protest on Nov 24, 2014. (Credit: Fight for the Soul of the Cities Facebook)

The Fight for the Soul of the Cities group protest on Nov 24, 2014. (Credit: Fight for the Soul of the Cities Facebook)

The Strategy Center’s Fight for the Soul of the Cities and Community Rights Campaign is holding a rally and press conference outside LAUSD headquarters at 4 p.m. to protest the Los Angeles School Police Department’s possession of military-grade weapons.

Earlier this fall, media around the country began to focus on the Pentagon’s 1033 Program in the wake of protesters’ clashes with heavily armed police in Ferguson, Mo. Under the program, local police departments large and small have been armed with billions of dollars of surplus military-grade weapons.

In response to growing criticism of the program, the LASPD Chief Steven Zipperman announced that the department was getting rid of three grenade launchers and a mine-resistant vehicle it had obtained through the program, but was keeping dozens of assault rifles.

Zipperman explained to the Los Angeles Times that the rifles were used for training, and that many officers are also equipped with civilian-grade assault rifles kept in the trunks of their cars or centralized locations in case of a Columbine High School-type attack.

The Fight for the Soul of the Cities campaign is calling for further moves by the LASPD. In a press release about the protest, the group is calling on the department to end its participation in the 1033 program, destroy its military weapons instead of transferring them to other agencies, encourage the LAPD and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to take similar actions and establish a Black and Latino-led community-control board of the LASPD.

“President Obama has called for more oversight of military weapons transfer and body cameras – yet the reality is that we need an end to police violence, criminalization and militarism,” the press release stated. “LAUSD as an institution of learning can provide leadership to reject militarism and police violence, we urge the LAUSD Board to begin the process to end its relationship to the 1033 Program.”

 

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