Abcarian: Almost no one was spared in that racist conversation among top L.A. Latino officials that has been the subject of an open investigation by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.
According to federal subpoenas, Latino politicians, labor leaders and community leaders met, in the fall of 2007, in a secret meeting at the home of then-LAPD Chief William Bratton to discuss what they might do about the Latino “trespass” problem. The LAPD was facing its busiest year ever at that point, during which the department had had more than 9,000 documented incidents of “suspicious activity” by Latino gang members.
In the months before the meeting, a number of Latino activists became concerned about an “ongoing incident of harassment and vandalism” by LAPD officers, who at that time were pursuing a policy of racial profiling. During that period of anti-immigrant hysteria, the LAPD’s Latino officers were on the streets “conducting sweeps of Latino neighborhoods and knocking on every door with an announcement of the enforcement action.”
The police officer who would ultimately come to be hailed as the “Deputy Chief,” Tony Im, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, “We’ve had to get creative. I mean, it’s going to be a little rough sometimes, but we have to find the tools to deal with this. We’re kind of out of options.”
When police officers began harassing Latinos, some activists, including the activist leaders from the Los Angeles Community Action Network, had to figure out how to work with police in the interests of civil rights and public safety but without alienating the police and the Latino community.
To that end, they asked the LAPD to put in place more non-racist crime-fighting strategies, such as the creation of a comprehensive police gang-intelligence program, the use of undercover officers to address gang activity in Latino and other minority neighborhoods, and the development and testing of an anti-gang