ACLU Says Videotapes Demonstrate Police "Overreaction" in Venice Beach

March 17, 1999 12:00 am

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Wednesday, March 17, 1999

LOS ANGELES — The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California today said it will represent Asia Yu, the organizer of the 1999 B-Boy Summit, who was charged by the police department here with inciting a riot.

Even though Yu and her organization, Eternal Two Creations, held the appropriate permits for the February 28 dance performance and exhibition held at Venice Beach, the Los Angeles Police Department is charging her with inciting a riot. The ACLU contends that it was the actions of the LAPD, and not those of the B-Boy Summit organizers, which caused the confusion along Venice Beach and the Boardwalk.

The events of February 28, including the disproportionate tactics taken by the LAPD, were captured on videotape by a number of participants and clearly support the B-Boy Summit organizers contention that the crowd was law abiding and orderly.

“One look at these tapes and it is clear that the LAPD reacted with fear and force to what was obviously a minor problem,”” said John Duran, an ACLU cooperating attorney representing Yu. “While hundreds of hip-hop fans enjoyed a legally permitted dance performance on the beach, the LAPD launched a tactical force to deal with a perceived threat that was, in fact, a figment of their imagination.”

The events of that Sunday were in marked contrast to those of the two previous days of the Summit, which was held on the UCLA campus. More than 2,000 people from across the United States and from around the globe attended the 5th annual B-Boy Summit.

Seminars on a wide range of topics from ‘Women in Hip-Hop’ to ‘Y2K: Urban Survival’ drew record attendance and no reports of violence or vandalism.

“The hip-hop culture allows youth freedom to express themselves through dance, music and art and promotes a code of respect and understanding of all peoples and cultures,” Yu said. “What the LAPD did that day, was directly contrary to the non-violent values that hip-hop advocates.”

Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California, said that what happened on Venice Beach was a sweeping violation of free speech and basic civil liberties.

“There is no justification for LAPD officers training their rifles on innocent people, gathered at a peacable assembly,” Ripston said. “We are calling on the LAPD to meet with us to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

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