What in the World Was LAPD Thinking

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On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Department dropped a plan to map the city’s Muslim population after a week of protests from a number of Muslim and other civil libertarian groups who claimed that the plan was religious profiling.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

“The department’s counter-terrorism bureau proposed using U.S. census data and other demographic information to pinpoint Muslim communities and then reach out to them through social service agencies.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement:

“While I believe the department’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim communities were well intentioned, the mapping proposal has created a level of fear and apprehension that made it counterproductive.”

The Mayor of Los Angeles might be right in terms of the intentions. However, and this is my general problem with such things, I do not understand why people’s reaction to such proposals always seems to catch public officials by surprise.

The Muslim community in the US, which is quite different from its counterpart in Europe in terms of the level of integration into mainstream society and the general lack of extremism, is nevertheless very wary the possibility that they could be singled out for targets by hate groups and law enforcement.

Any plan that was well-intentioned would attempt to partner with mainstream Muslim groups and work with them if their goal is to “mitigate radicalization” as Police Chief Downing put it.

However, the Los Angeles Times suggested that this approach might not fit United States populations anyway.

“Some critics said the LAPD plan seemed based on the European experience of isolated and often-distressed Muslim enclaves, a model they said doesn’t apply to the United States, where the Muslim population is far more dispersed.”

When law enforcement attempts to introduce such programs without such partnerships, groups such as Muslims, but not limited to the Muslims, begin to fear the less than honorable intentions. They become suspicious, they stop trying to work with law enforcement.

“Downing and other LAPD officials have stressed for days that the mapping program was not a form of profiling or targeting but rather a way to better understand the Muslim community.

But until Wednesday, the department had stood by the effort and insisted that critics would accept the idea once officials could provide details.”

Again I have to ask they they were thinking here? If you want to get groups to cooperate–why do officials not communicate? These type of situations repeat themselves because public officials do not learn the lessons. These are not difficult lessons to learn. Unless of course your goal is not cooperation but rather surveillance.

What many civil liberty groups and other critics fear was that this was the first step to initiating some sort of surveillance on the Muslim population in Los Angeles. Such a fear would have sounded paranoid and delusional ten years ago, but now it does not seem so far-fetched given the realities of our world.

As an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times from a Long Beach State professor states:

“As a Los Angeles County resident, a scholar and a Jew with a good memory, I was shocked and horrified to read of the Los Angeles Police Department’s antiterrorism bureau program to map Muslim communities. The debate over security versus individual rights that was popularized in the wake of the USA Patriot Act and invoked in this case is, in my view, the wrong debate. Targeting identity communities to protect society from those minority subgroups that seek to do harm — as opposed to creating strategies to address criminal behavior — is both
morally repugnant and strategically misinformed.

Historically, mapping communities has been a precursor to actions against those communities. Why map if you aren’t going to try to act on the data collected?”

The strong outrage from the Muslim community and civil liberties groups forced a pullback of the policy. That is also a lesson to many that we do not have to sit back idly and merely accept injustice in our community. While for the most part this blog focuses on Davis, this is an issue that had to potential to have far-reaching impacts that could have affected our community as well. We need to be ever-vigilant that we do not sacrifice essential liberty for temporary security.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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32 thoughts on “What in the World Was LAPD Thinking”

  1. davisite

    Excellent piece DPD…. very powerful “food for thought”… 20th century history reveals that in times of fear and economic dislocation, Western societies have flirted with authoritarianism/fascism. Unlike Germany,Italy,Spain, England and France…yes, and the USA, our values and our Constitution have always pulled us back from the brink of this abyss.

  2. davisite

    Excellent piece DPD…. very powerful “food for thought”… 20th century history reveals that in times of fear and economic dislocation, Western societies have flirted with authoritarianism/fascism. Unlike Germany,Italy,Spain, England and France…yes, and the USA, our values and our Constitution have always pulled us back from the brink of this abyss.

  3. davisite

    Excellent piece DPD…. very powerful “food for thought”… 20th century history reveals that in times of fear and economic dislocation, Western societies have flirted with authoritarianism/fascism. Unlike Germany,Italy,Spain, England and France…yes, and the USA, our values and our Constitution have always pulled us back from the brink of this abyss.

  4. davisite

    Excellent piece DPD…. very powerful “food for thought”… 20th century history reveals that in times of fear and economic dislocation, Western societies have flirted with authoritarianism/fascism. Unlike Germany,Italy,Spain, England and France…yes, and the USA, our values and our Constitution have always pulled us back from the brink of this abyss.

  5. Anonymous

    “….. better understand the Muslim community.”

    The LA muslim community is being mapped so that law enforcement strategic plans and resources can be put in place for a future muslim “uprising”. This is what LAPD officials mean when they say… “better understand”.

  6. Anonymous

    “….. better understand the Muslim community.”

    The LA muslim community is being mapped so that law enforcement strategic plans and resources can be put in place for a future muslim “uprising”. This is what LAPD officials mean when they say… “better understand”.

  7. Anonymous

    “….. better understand the Muslim community.”

    The LA muslim community is being mapped so that law enforcement strategic plans and resources can be put in place for a future muslim “uprising”. This is what LAPD officials mean when they say… “better understand”.

  8. Anonymous

    “….. better understand the Muslim community.”

    The LA muslim community is being mapped so that law enforcement strategic plans and resources can be put in place for a future muslim “uprising”. This is what LAPD officials mean when they say… “better understand”.

  9. Erik

    I caught a bit of the NPR interview with the LAPD officer in charge of the operation; he’s a position or two below Bratton.

    The officer was talking about how people in the LA Muslim community should contact police when they hear others in the community discussing subversive ideas, even if they weren’t acting on them.

    The host asked the lieutenant if he thought this went against our legal tradition requiring a bad act, more than just subversive thoughts or talk before someone can be arrested. The lieutenant didn’t think much of this concept, and just said that he felt it would be better if the police could be “involved” when somoene was talking or thinking about these subversive things.

  10. Erik

    I caught a bit of the NPR interview with the LAPD officer in charge of the operation; he’s a position or two below Bratton.

    The officer was talking about how people in the LA Muslim community should contact police when they hear others in the community discussing subversive ideas, even if they weren’t acting on them.

    The host asked the lieutenant if he thought this went against our legal tradition requiring a bad act, more than just subversive thoughts or talk before someone can be arrested. The lieutenant didn’t think much of this concept, and just said that he felt it would be better if the police could be “involved” when somoene was talking or thinking about these subversive things.

  11. Erik

    I caught a bit of the NPR interview with the LAPD officer in charge of the operation; he’s a position or two below Bratton.

    The officer was talking about how people in the LA Muslim community should contact police when they hear others in the community discussing subversive ideas, even if they weren’t acting on them.

    The host asked the lieutenant if he thought this went against our legal tradition requiring a bad act, more than just subversive thoughts or talk before someone can be arrested. The lieutenant didn’t think much of this concept, and just said that he felt it would be better if the police could be “involved” when somoene was talking or thinking about these subversive things.

  12. Erik

    I caught a bit of the NPR interview with the LAPD officer in charge of the operation; he’s a position or two below Bratton.

    The officer was talking about how people in the LA Muslim community should contact police when they hear others in the community discussing subversive ideas, even if they weren’t acting on them.

    The host asked the lieutenant if he thought this went against our legal tradition requiring a bad act, more than just subversive thoughts or talk before someone can be arrested. The lieutenant didn’t think much of this concept, and just said that he felt it would be better if the police could be “involved” when somoene was talking or thinking about these subversive things.

  13. Anonymous

    Fascism? LOL.

    There’s nothing wrong with racial profiling as long as it’s smart and within the law. It’s debatable whether this is within the law, and it’s most definitely NOT smart.

  14. Anonymous

    Fascism? LOL.

    There’s nothing wrong with racial profiling as long as it’s smart and within the law. It’s debatable whether this is within the law, and it’s most definitely NOT smart.

  15. Anonymous

    Fascism? LOL.

    There’s nothing wrong with racial profiling as long as it’s smart and within the law. It’s debatable whether this is within the law, and it’s most definitely NOT smart.

  16. Anonymous

    Fascism? LOL.

    There’s nothing wrong with racial profiling as long as it’s smart and within the law. It’s debatable whether this is within the law, and it’s most definitely NOT smart.

  17. Anonymous

    Scenerio that is being planned for by the LAPD: Bush bombs Iran. Iran retaliates along with Arab allies. US and Israel bomb the hell out of them and there is mass indiscriminate killing of civilians, women and children. The LAPD plans would include where and how to cordon off and control the rage that would be exploding in the LA-muslim community.

  18. Anonymous

    Scenerio that is being planned for by the LAPD: Bush bombs Iran. Iran retaliates along with Arab allies. US and Israel bomb the hell out of them and there is mass indiscriminate killing of civilians, women and children. The LAPD plans would include where and how to cordon off and control the rage that would be exploding in the LA-muslim community.

  19. Anonymous

    Scenerio that is being planned for by the LAPD: Bush bombs Iran. Iran retaliates along with Arab allies. US and Israel bomb the hell out of them and there is mass indiscriminate killing of civilians, women and children. The LAPD plans would include where and how to cordon off and control the rage that would be exploding in the LA-muslim community.

  20. Anonymous

    Scenerio that is being planned for by the LAPD: Bush bombs Iran. Iran retaliates along with Arab allies. US and Israel bomb the hell out of them and there is mass indiscriminate killing of civilians, women and children. The LAPD plans would include where and how to cordon off and control the rage that would be exploding in the LA-muslim community.

  21. Rich Rifkin

    “There’s nothing wrong with racial profiling as long as… “

    I disagree. There is something wrong with racial profiling. No race (or ethnicity or religious group I know of) is so narrow that a profile of certain criminal characteristics applies to the group as a whole. The characteristics may (or may not) apply to a substantial number of people from certain groups; but often, those same criminal characteristics apply to large numbers of other people who are outside of the race or ethnic group or religious group you are targetting.

    In some specific narrow circumstances, profiling makes good sense. For example, if a neighborhood has had a problem with 16-30 year old Asian males wearing red pants, green shirts and yellow hats breaking into parked cars and stealing radios, then it would make sense for the police to profile people who fit that description, especially when they are seen near parked cars in the affected neighborhood.

    However, profiling Asians as a racial group casts far too wide a net. And that, in essence, is what is wrong with racial profiling. To me, it is racism and ought to be illegal for law enforcement to engage in it.

  22. Rich Rifkin

    “There’s nothing wrong with racial profiling as long as… “

    I disagree. There is something wrong with racial profiling. No race (or ethnicity or religious group I know of) is so narrow that a profile of certain criminal characteristics applies to the group as a whole. The characteristics may (or may not) apply to a substantial number of people from certain groups; but often, those same criminal characteristics apply to large numbers of other people who are outside of the race or ethnic group or religious group you are targetting.

    In some specific narrow circumstances, profiling makes good sense. For example, if a neighborhood has had a problem with 16-30 year old Asian males wearing red pants, green shirts and yellow hats breaking into parked cars and stealing radios, then it would make sense for the police to profile people who fit that description, especially when they are seen near parked cars in the affected neighborhood.

    However, profiling Asians as a racial group casts far too wide a net. And that, in essence, is what is wrong with racial profiling. To me, it is racism and ought to be illegal for law enforcement to engage in it.

  23. Rich Rifkin

    “There’s nothing wrong with racial profiling as long as… “

    I disagree. There is something wrong with racial profiling. No race (or ethnicity or religious group I know of) is so narrow that a profile of certain criminal characteristics applies to the group as a whole. The characteristics may (or may not) apply to a substantial number of people from certain groups; but often, those same criminal characteristics apply to large numbers of other people who are outside of the race or ethnic group or religious group you are targetting.

    In some specific narrow circumstances, profiling makes good sense. For example, if a neighborhood has had a problem with 16-30 year old Asian males wearing red pants, green shirts and yellow hats breaking into parked cars and stealing radios, then it would make sense for the police to profile people who fit that description, especially when they are seen near parked cars in the affected neighborhood.

    However, profiling Asians as a racial group casts far too wide a net. And that, in essence, is what is wrong with racial profiling. To me, it is racism and ought to be illegal for law enforcement to engage in it.

  24. Rich Rifkin

    “There’s nothing wrong with racial profiling as long as… “

    I disagree. There is something wrong with racial profiling. No race (or ethnicity or religious group I know of) is so narrow that a profile of certain criminal characteristics applies to the group as a whole. The characteristics may (or may not) apply to a substantial number of people from certain groups; but often, those same criminal characteristics apply to large numbers of other people who are outside of the race or ethnic group or religious group you are targetting.

    In some specific narrow circumstances, profiling makes good sense. For example, if a neighborhood has had a problem with 16-30 year old Asian males wearing red pants, green shirts and yellow hats breaking into parked cars and stealing radios, then it would make sense for the police to profile people who fit that description, especially when they are seen near parked cars in the affected neighborhood.

    However, profiling Asians as a racial group casts far too wide a net. And that, in essence, is what is wrong with racial profiling. To me, it is racism and ought to be illegal for law enforcement to engage in it.

  25. 無名 - wu ming

    it seems pretty obvious that they’re treating the muslim community as potential enemies of the state, as the black community has been treated for decades and decades.

    combine that with the LAPD treating legal protest as riots, attacking peaceful marchers, cameramen and bystanders alike with indiscriminate violence, it doesn’t take too many dots to suspect that they’re preparing for LA’s sizeable iranian population protesting a war with iran.

    this ties into the thread above this one. if someone breaks the law, and you have evidence that they have committed a crime, then arrest them. but premptively assuming that whole classes of people are pre-criminals is deeply illegal behavior, and makes for ineffective and abusive policing to boot, because the process of determining who will be criminals is guided more by bias than any precognition.

  26. 無名 - wu ming

    it seems pretty obvious that they’re treating the muslim community as potential enemies of the state, as the black community has been treated for decades and decades.

    combine that with the LAPD treating legal protest as riots, attacking peaceful marchers, cameramen and bystanders alike with indiscriminate violence, it doesn’t take too many dots to suspect that they’re preparing for LA’s sizeable iranian population protesting a war with iran.

    this ties into the thread above this one. if someone breaks the law, and you have evidence that they have committed a crime, then arrest them. but premptively assuming that whole classes of people are pre-criminals is deeply illegal behavior, and makes for ineffective and abusive policing to boot, because the process of determining who will be criminals is guided more by bias than any precognition.

  27. 無名 - wu ming

    it seems pretty obvious that they’re treating the muslim community as potential enemies of the state, as the black community has been treated for decades and decades.

    combine that with the LAPD treating legal protest as riots, attacking peaceful marchers, cameramen and bystanders alike with indiscriminate violence, it doesn’t take too many dots to suspect that they’re preparing for LA’s sizeable iranian population protesting a war with iran.

    this ties into the thread above this one. if someone breaks the law, and you have evidence that they have committed a crime, then arrest them. but premptively assuming that whole classes of people are pre-criminals is deeply illegal behavior, and makes for ineffective and abusive policing to boot, because the process of determining who will be criminals is guided more by bias than any precognition.

  28. 無名 - wu ming

    it seems pretty obvious that they’re treating the muslim community as potential enemies of the state, as the black community has been treated for decades and decades.

    combine that with the LAPD treating legal protest as riots, attacking peaceful marchers, cameramen and bystanders alike with indiscriminate violence, it doesn’t take too many dots to suspect that they’re preparing for LA’s sizeable iranian population protesting a war with iran.

    this ties into the thread above this one. if someone breaks the law, and you have evidence that they have committed a crime, then arrest them. but premptively assuming that whole classes of people are pre-criminals is deeply illegal behavior, and makes for ineffective and abusive policing to boot, because the process of determining who will be criminals is guided more by bias than any precognition.

  29. Anonymous

    I would have to agree with rich rifkin. I rarely agree with rich because he is usually full of crap but this time I agree. As for wu ming he/she should change his/her name to Chicken Little because the sky seems always to be falling. Wrong again wu ming.

  30. Anonymous

    I would have to agree with rich rifkin. I rarely agree with rich because he is usually full of crap but this time I agree. As for wu ming he/she should change his/her name to Chicken Little because the sky seems always to be falling. Wrong again wu ming.

  31. Anonymous

    I would have to agree with rich rifkin. I rarely agree with rich because he is usually full of crap but this time I agree. As for wu ming he/she should change his/her name to Chicken Little because the sky seems always to be falling. Wrong again wu ming.

  32. Anonymous

    I would have to agree with rich rifkin. I rarely agree with rich because he is usually full of crap but this time I agree. As for wu ming he/she should change his/her name to Chicken Little because the sky seems always to be falling. Wrong again wu ming.

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