Steve Lopez: L.A. officials should stop congratulating themselves
Was that a news conference just now by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck or a love-in?
My goodness, I thought I was listening to a football coach and general manager congratulate themselves and the team after a Super Bowl victory, not the aftermath of an eviction from the City Hall park.
The LAPD is the finest police force in the land, said an emotional Villaraigosa, and Beck believes in "constitutional policing" in "the core of his heart."
Being the mayor of a big city isn't easy, Beck said in a nod to Villaraigosa before singling out all of the key lieutenants in the design and execution of the eviction.
OK, things went relatively well last night, no question about it. But this wasn't Patton at the Battle of the Bulge, and the protesters were cooperative and nonviolent for the most part. A pat on the back may be in order here, and sure, that was a clever move to use City Hall as a Trojan horse, with battalions of officers suddenly emerging to overwhelm demonstrators before things could get out of hand.
But do we really need city officials to take bows for doing their jobs?
Do we need to congratulate cops for showing restraint?
Is everyone involved going to get a trophy of a collapsed tent, along with a handshake from Villaraigosa?
Speaking of whom, the potentially dangerous confrontation last night wouldn't have been necessary if Villaraigosa had laid down the law from the beginning instead of rolling out a red carpet for demonstrators two months ago and all but hosting a barbecue to welcome them to the neighborhood. Was it a surprise to him that the grass would die, or that sanitation issues might arise, that the largely unaddressed homeless problem would spill over onto the lawn, or that it's never good policy to enforce some laws and ordinances but not others?
Give me a break.
And get back to work.
-- Steve Lopez
Photo: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck address the media on the ouster of Occupy L.A. protesters from the park surrounding City Hall. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times