Multiple police departments mishandled George Floyd protests last year: report

Police departments in Dallas, Los Angeles and other big cities are being criticized for tactics used to respond to demonstrations over Floyd's death

When George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police last May, people all over the nation took to the streets to declare Black lives matter.

In what started out as peaceful demonstrations in many cities, law enforcement and protesters found themselves entangled in chaos and at times violence. Months later, new information reveals that many of the violent moments stem from undertrained and over militarized police forces.

As reported by the New York Times, numerous cities reported that their respective police departments were insufficiently prepared for Black Lives Matter and other protests that followed Floyd’s death.

Police fire tear gas at protestors on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, during the second day of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Photo by Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Police Department, for example, was harshly criticized for its handling of demonstrations in Los Angeles last year. In an inter-departmental report, LAPD cited that officers were not prepared for a May 29 rally, writing that assigned personnel “did not have the experience or training to execute what needed to be done to successfully run a command post.”

In addition, the report said officers improperly detained people for municipal code infractions, rather than having an offender show ID and sign an order to appear. Individuals would not be arrested during such encounters.

“It does not authorize the transportation of the person to another site or prolonged detention of the person, both of which occurred during the May-June protests,” the report said.

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter receives Nobel Peace Prize nomination

Another city where police mishandled protesters was Dallas. According to the Dallas Morning News, officers had shot protesters with pepper balls during a May 30 protest. One woman was hit in the breast and a man was left with a concussion after he was shot in the head.

“To me, it seems to tell the story of a poorly trained officer who is not properly supervised and engaging in possibly unconstitutional behavior,” stated Ed Maguire, a criminal justice professor at Arizona State University.

The following month, a federal judge put a temporary ban on Dallas police from using pepper ball guns, tear gas and other less-than-lethal weapons for crowd control purposes.

People visit a memorial at the site where George Floyd was killed
People on June 3, 2020 visit a memorial at the site where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

During a June 1 Black Lives Matter protest on a Philadelphia highway, the city’s special weapons and tactics, or SWAT, force descended on the rally, sending the crowd into a panic and prompting them to run in the other direction. As reported by a video account in a New York Times report, a second wave of SWAT officers came from the opposite direction, trapping many of the demonstrators and using pepper-spray on the marchers in the face without provocation.

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When attempting to leave the highway, protesters climbed onto an adjacent hill, where they were struck. After this, law enforcement continued to deploy tear gas at the crowd of trapped demonstrators.

One of the protesters, Drew Underwood, was apparently hit in the face by a police projectile while filming the chaos with his phone, scarring him in his face.

“I did nothing to deserve this done to my face,” Underwood said. “The other people that were shot, that were tear gassed, they didn’t do nothing to deserving of that trauma, but we have to live with it.”

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