Los Angeles Police Department has postponed a search of a homeless encampment after a controversial email from a senior official was leaked online.
In the June 14 email, Senior Lead Officer Brittney Gutierrez alerted several people that mass arrests would be made Thursday while a camp in the West Hills neighborhood was being cleaned up and that the people’s belongings were being confiscated by the Los Angeles Sanitation Department would be confiscated.
“Everyone will be arrested and all of their belongings will be taken through the plumbing,” the LAPD official wrote.
She suggested the operation be done in secret and called the operation a “hush-hush task force” so police could arrest anyone there.
“As always, don’t approach these people who are experiencing homelessness. I want to make sure everyone is in camp on the 29th so I can arrest them,” her email said. “This is an intelligence task force.”
To clean up the city, storekeepers violently evict homeless people from their makeshift shelters. Community organizers have resisted the searches and the ordinances they allow, actions that many describe as a citywide effort criminalize not being accommodated rather than addressing core issues such as the city’s affordable housing crisis.
William Gude, who runs a popular Twitter account that tracks reports of police misconduct, @FilmThePoliceLA, posted a screenshot of Gutierrez’s email Twitter on Tuesday.
Community activist Katherine Tattersfield told HuffPost that she received a copy of the email through a network of anonymous sources and then sent the screenshot to Gude.
“The LAPD frequently harasses and arrests people affected by homelessness,” said Tattersfield, a frequent critic of the LAPD.
“It’s disheartening, but I’m very glad this came out because the LAPD statement says it’s against protocol and we know that’s not true,” Tattersfield added. “We know this is a protocol.”
The LAPD called the email “highly inappropriate” and said it would postpone the search in one go opinion.
“When enforcement becomes necessary, it is in response to a criminal act. Enforcement will not be designed to provide a quick fix to a complicated situation, nor will it rely solely on the person’s homeless status,” the statement said.
The LAPD also said the officer “who authored the email” will be undergoing “extensive training” through the department’s homelessness coordinator’s office.
An officer named Brittney Gutierrez, along with another officer, Jaime Mejia, shot dead 34-year-old Michael Cano on November 9, 2015. according to a document from the Los Angeles District Attorney. Officers responded to the report of a man acting strangely in the middle of the street, saying that during the confrontation Cano got their hands on an officer’s beanbag gun and that they then shot him with their service weapons. The District Attorney concluded in a 2018 report that both officers acted in “lawful self-defense.”
The badge The number in Gutierrez’s email matches the number on the DA’s document.
The LAPD declined HuffPost’s request for comment on the possible connection and the email.