An activist that was paid by George Soros’ foundation to “challenge Los Angeles Police Department surveillance” has vowed to shut down the LAPD’s drone program before it gets off the ground. After the LAPD presented police commissioners with plans to move forward with an “unmanned aerial system” earlier this week, Hamid Khan ignited a disruption of shouts and chants that quickly turned the boardroom into an unlawful assembly, as declared by an officer on the scene. One protester warned, “civil war is coming.”
“The LA Police Commission rubber stamped building the program that will give LAPD much more firepower and surveillance capacity to brutalize and stalk our communities,” Khan said. “We have the power to stop it and we will.”
Khan has been studying the LAPD’s surveillance, infiltration, and wiretapping techniques for at least six years. In 2011, he created the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition after receiving a paid fellowship from Soros’ Open Society Foundations to work on so-called “criminal justice reform” issues. Since then, it has become part of an interwoven conglomerate of anti-police activist groups that coalesce to dismantle law enforcement in Southern California. Allies include Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several Soros-affiliated community-based organizations that are familiar faces to the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), which represents rank-and-file LAPD officers.
“It’s time for the conspiracy theorists and professional protesters to stop obstructing every effort we make to keep Angelenos safe,” the union recently said in a statement.
Khan’s Stop LAPD Spying Coalition shares an address with the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) — a non-profit with direct ties to Soros, operating on money that trickles down from his foundation. Dr. Melina Abdullah, the lead organizer for the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, sits on LACAN’s board of directors.
“We must disrupt systems of oppression that continue to surveil and oppress communities of color,” said Pete White, LACAN’s executive director, who is also a member of Black Lives Matter-LA. “We say disrupt, divest, and abolish values that suggest public safety rests in the hands of police.”
Now Khan leads a resistance whose mission includes “the dismantling of government-sanctioned spying and intelligence gathering.” He insists there are “no circumstances” under which law enforcement should use drones.
As the Los Angeles Times reports:
The LAPD’s vision, if approved by the Police Commission, is to fly a small drone – measuring about a foot long and 7 ½ inches tall – during incidents such as standoffs with hostage-takers or barricaded suspects, bomb scares, or shootings where a gunman is still targeting people. The devices could help gather crucial information as such situations unfold, without putting officers at risk, Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala said.
The LAPD would draw up strict criteria before flying drones, she said. Each use would require the approval of a high-ranking department official and would be documented in a written report to ensure that the rules were followed, she said.
The LAPD plans to hold public meetings and draft guidelines that must be approved by the Police Commission before the drones can be flown.
Khan’s coalition has been described as “working to build a grassroots movement.” However, drone opposition might not be as widespread as some media reports have conveyed. Stop LAPD Spying Coalition launched the “Drone-Free LAPD/No Drones LA!” campaign in 2014 to mobilize the community by “holding rallies, demonstrations, and press conferences,” but some outlets identify the coalition and campaign as two separate groups when, in fact, they are one in the same. The No Drones LA! Twitter account has not tweeted since 2014.
“We’re going to fight this; we’re going to fight it until the very end,” Jamie Garcia, a member of Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, cautioned police commissioners. “These drones will be destroyed, and they’ll be grounded. You won’t even purchase them. So just drop the idea. It’s not going to happen.”
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter @Near_Chaos.