Los Angeles Residents Voice Their Frustrations With LAPD
“We’re afraid. We’re scared. A lot of [police officers] do harass people for no reason,” said Guadalupe Lopez, who has lived around the area for 15 years.
Lopez and about 300 other community members from Westlake, where Jamines was shot, and throughout Los Angeles attended an open forum Wednesday night to hear from LAPD and to voice their concerns about the circumstances surrounding Jamines' death.
In Westlake, a predominantly Hispanic area, frustration toward the police is not new. Now, however, it has reached a tipping point, and has spurred several protests.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the crowd booed Chief of Police Charlie Beck and many chanted, “Asesinos!” (the Spanish word for “murderers”) as he walked onstage.
“The anger is palpable. People are pissed off,” said community relations advocate Francisco Ortega, who helped mediate the tense meeting.
Lopez said officers often arrest Latinos without cause and said she thinks the department is guilty of racial profiling in Westlake. Rosa Chavez, another resident, said she hoped Wednesday's meeting would lead to harder laws on the “corrupt” police instead of on the community.
“The people are tired, and I’m really scared that one day something bad is gonna happen,” she said.
The meeting drew people from all over Los Angeles, indicating that the controversy over Jamines’ death has extended beyond the boundaries of Westlake.
Brian Delas Armas came from the Valley to see how LAPD would treat what he called “the systematic devaluation of a person of color’s life.”
“Police might be more quick to pull the trigger on a Latino than a white person,” he said.
Dominic Elefante, who lives in Koreatown, came to the meeting hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
“What I’d like to see is an apology. What I will see is justification and rationalization,” he said before the meeting.
Even more people came from other parts of L.A., including minority-heavy communities of east and south L.A.
Several members of the Guatemalan community also attended. Some who spoke at the meeting said they do not support the violence taking place in the name of Jamines, who was Guatemalan.
“Our Guatemalan community is tired of the violence,” said Pablo Garcia Saenz, Los Angeles' Guatemalan consular general. “Violence will bring only more violence. This community is a community of dignity and respect.”
But not all of them could agree.
“It's about peace, but we learned in school that when there is no justice, there can be no peace,” another member of the Guatemalan community said.
Reach staff reporter Taylor Freitas here.