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Self-styled communists helped fuel Westlake clash with police [Updated]

September 8, 2010 | 11:00 am


When the Los Angeles Police Department faced hundreds of protesters on the streets of the Westlake District, some were people drawn to the event from other parts of the city for political reasons.

Twenty-two people were arrested Tuesday night after protesters clashed with police near a vigil for Manuel Jamines, a Guatamalan-born day laborer fatally shot Sunday by an officer who said Jamines refused to drop a knife.

Among those arrested was Jubilee Shine, 40, a South Los Angeles activist who heads the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police. Shine said he was arrested on 6th Street near Bonnie Brae Street just before 10 p.m.

He said he arrived in the area about 9:30 p.m. and was walking toward a crowd of demonstrators at the corner of 6th Street and Burlington Avenue when the crowd bolted toward him.

“People just started to split,” Shine said.

He said he turned to run but was ordered to the ground and handcuffed. Police have not released the names of those arrested, but Shine said the protesters with whom he shared a jail cell Tuesday night were all Central American or Mexican immigrants who live in and around Westlake.

“From what I could tell, everyone there was local from that neighborhood,” he said.

Some of the earlier unrest appeared to have been fueled by political activists from other parts of the city. About a dozen people who appeared to be affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist Party handed out literature about its beliefs and other cases of officer-involved shootings, and chanted messages over bullhorns about a communist revolution.

[Corrected at 9:30 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to the Revolutionary Community Party.]


Meanwhile, demonstrators from the neighborhood chanted, “Police are racists and killers!”

As the night wore on, protesters clashed with police. Some, including a boy who appeared no older than 13, hurled rocks, bottles and eggs at officers and at the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart station building.

Some debris was thrown at officers from apartment house roofs. Other people burned trash bins in the street. Several said they planned to continue their demonstrations in coming days.

"We're not going to stop," said a man who on Tuesday night was standing in a crowd of about 200 chanting protesters near the corner of Union Avenue and 6th Street.

Police are hoping a community meeting near MacArthur Park, planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, will help defuse tension after a second consecutive night of violence in the neighborhood. The meeting is tol be held at John Leichty Middle School at 650 S. Union Ave.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck will attend, along with Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes and the consul generals of Guatemala, Nicaragua and Mexico. Top LAPD and city officials have urged calm and vowed a full investigation into the Jamines shooting.

Beck said the three bicycle patrol officers who confronted Jamines had about 40 seconds to act and did as good a job as could be done in such a quick-moving emergency situation.

"There was very, very little opportunity to do much more than what was done," he said.

Beck identified the three officers involved as Frank Hernandez, a 13-year veteran; Steven Rodriguez and Paris Pineda, both five-year veterans. Hernandez fired the shots, Beck said.

Police showed photographs of the bloodied knife, with blade that is about 6 inches long when opened, that they say Jamines, 37, was holding at the time of the shooting. Investigators are testing the blood to see whose it is, the LAPD said.

Beck said the area where the incident occurred "is not an easy place to police," in part because of its large immigrant population and widespread illegal vending.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged residents not to resort to violence.

"We need to calm the waters," he said.

-- Kate Linthicum in Westlake

Photo: Early Wednesday morning, Karen Zaldana lights candles that were extinguished overnight at a makeshift memorial at 6th Street and Union Avenue, where a 37-year-old Guatemalan-born day laborer was shot and killed by an LAPD officer Sunday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

More photos: Protesters clash with LAPD officers in Westlake