A local community activist was arrested for a misdemeanor violation following a parole sweep of a down town hotel as the metamorphosis of downtown and the area known as Central City East continues.
On Friday, February 1, the office of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) was notified that the LAPD, in tandem with the state parole department, were conducting a raid on the St. Marks Hotel near 5th and Towne Streets, involving an estimated 30 police officers and ten parole agents. LA CAN Director Pete White and a colleague grabbed a camera and immediately went down to document the proceedings.
Within minutes of their arrival, White was arrested for failing to move out of a pedestrian walk way while filming. After he was handcuffed and secured against a brick wall, LA CAN organizer General Dogon turned up with another camera, began taking photos and was summarily arrested, this time for a felony parole violation which was later retracted. White was then transported, initially to Central Division, then on to 77th Division where he continued to refuse to sign the ticket, and was detained for eight hours until he was released on his own recognizance.
Since the inauguration of its CommunityWatch Initiative in November of 2005, LA CAN has taken a pro-active approach in monitoring police interactions with the traditionally indigent inhabitants downtown, occasionally clashing with the departments own Safer Cities Initiative, launched in September of 2006.
Reached by phone, Central Division Captain Jodi Wakefield told Our Weekly that White was citied after being admonished to get out of the roadway, and was taken into custody after he refused to sign the citation.
Wakefield emphasized that the police have no problem with community activists documenting them in the performance of their duties. Her superior, Commander Andrew Smith told Our Weekly that White was booked under his given name of Darren Ray White for being outside the cross walk and seven to ten feet from the curb. Police claimed that White attempted to incite the crowd that gathered, and they responded by voicing racial epithets at the arresting officer whom they believed to be Hispanic, although he is of Indian ancestry (from the Indian subcontinent as opposed to American Indian). White’s original violation is technically an infraction, but was bumped up to a misdemeanor when he refused to sign the citation.