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VIDEO: Protesters want LA Unified police to demilitarize

Craig Clough | December 19, 2014

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A small but loud group from The Labor Community Strategy Center’s Fight for the Soul of the Cities and Community Rights Campaign protested outside of LA Unified headquarters yesterday, demanding that the LA School Police Department give up any military weapons it received through the Pentagon’s controversial 1033 Program.

Check out the attached video for highlights of the protest.

The group banged drums, marched and chanted before delivering 1,000 signatures it has collected asking the LA Unified school board to direct its police force to end its participation in the program and to do a full inventory of any military-grade weapons it may have purchased on its own.

Manuel Criollo, director of organizing at the Strategy Center, said the group is planning to protest outside a LA Unified school board meeting in January where it plans to deliver another 2,000 signatures it has already gathered.

In response to growing criticism of the 1033 program after protestors clashed with heavily-armed local police in Ferguson, Missouri this past summer, 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.

But Criollo said that Zipperman’s moves don’t go far enough. He and his group are also asking the department to 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 to establish a Black and Latino-led community-control board of the LASPD.

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