Mayor Eric Garcetti recently envisioned a scenario where Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are aggressively confronted by “swarming” teenagers while making an arrest on a Los Angeles sidewalk. The faceoff would be captured on video - sparking a “tinderbox” that results in days of looting, arson, and several lives lost.
“We just commemorated 25 years since the urban unrest, and we know how quickly things can explode,” Garcetti told host Maria Hinojosa during a recent episode of NPR’s “Latino USA.”
“If something goes wrong I fear a tinderbox out there, where people will suddenly say ‘no,’ and try to defend, keep that person from being taken,” Garcetti said. “That’s a very dangerous situation.”
The “urban unrest” to which Garcetti refers were the 1992 riots, suggesting the chain of events he foreshadowed could escalate beyond his control – just like in ‘92 - when Mayor Tom Bradley was forced to rely on assistance from the California National Guard and President George H. W. Bush. More than 1,100 Marines and 600 Army soldiers were deployed to the streets of Los Angeles.
Partial transcript as follows:
HINOJOSA: “As the Mayor of L.A., it has crossed your mind, like, ‘Oh my God. The next tinderbox might not be black-white relations, but might end up being immigrant-police-ICE confrontations?’ And then that could lead to an ugly, ugly chapter in L.A.’s life?”
GARCETTI: “Imagine a parent who’s dropping off their child. As we’ve seen, ICE officers, ICE agents take that parent away, and it’s videotaped. Imagine if that’s on the sidewalk and students start swarming, and they’re teenagers. It’s dangerous for those agents. It’s dangerous for our city.
The hot button in 1992 was not immigration enforcement. It was police brutality.
Four white officers from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) had been acquitted of beating Rodney King, a black motorist who tried to evade law enforcement during a high-speed pursuit. As the Los Angeles Times reported, amateur video “showed officers delivering repeated baton blows and kicks as King rolled on the ground. Its images have been seared into the minds of viewers the world over who have watched the tape broadcast repeatedly.”
Garcetti’s criticism of ICE comes after the agency recently announced more than 41,000 arrests during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office – a 37.6% increase from that same period last year. According to ICE, nearly 75 percent of those detained “are convicted criminals, with offenses ranging from homicide and assault to sexual abuse and drug-related charges.” ICE agents were also part of a recent operation in Los Angeles targeting MS-13 gang members – some of whom have links to the Mexican Mafia. 50 predawn raids on May 17 resulted in 44 arrests. More than half of those detained were in the country illegally.
In February, Garcetti wrote a letter to a District Director at ICE urging that “agents operating in Los Angeles immediately stop representing they are ‘police’ officers.” The request cited a two-day-old article published by the Los Angeles Times claiming that ICE agents “pretend to be police officers” to trick people. The story went on to mention documentation collected by a George Soros-funded advocacy group which alleges to show ICE agents using “deceit while targeting people for deportation.”
Five days after Garcetti’s letter, ICE agents with the word “POLICE” prominently displayed across their backs detained an unlawfully present immigrant with multiple criminal convictions as he as he dropped off his daughters at school in Los Angeles. Video of the incident went viral, prompting LAPD Commissioner Steve Soboroff – a Garcetti appointee – to react by tweeting, “SHAME ON YOU POTUS.” Nearly two weeks earlier, Soboroff had asked whoever mans the official ICE Twitter account to define “criminal.”
However, the Garcetti administration’s defiance of ICE did not begin with the inauguration of Donald J. Trump.
In the summer of 2014, Garcetti announced that LAPD would no longer comply with ICE requests to detain unlawfully present immigrants for possible deportation without judicial review.
A month later, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck attended the “ICE Out of L.A. Workers’ Rights Town Hall,” sponsored by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) – a group considered to be part of the ‘open-borders lobby’ that has received funding from Soros’ Open Society Foundations. Beck promoted several LAPD policy changes implemented to accommodate the region’s unlawfully present population.
“When we stopped honoring ICE detention requests in every instance, it was not about doing what was popular or easy,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck a told a church sanctuary filled with mostly organizers and day laborers. “It was about doing what was right.”
The ICE Out of L.A. Coalition is an alliance of 23 social justice groups, including NDLON, which “aim to create an open source campaign where people push for ICE out of L.A. and full civil and human rights through diverse and innovative tactics.”
Staff attorneys from the NDLON – which sued ICE last year – make themselves readily available for media interviews to shape ICE detainment narratives for various outlets from New York to L.A. Meanwhile, activists affiliated with NDLON pressure California politicians to advocate on its behalf. One such NDLON-led drive references Garcetti, stating “the L.A. Mayor” supports the cause.
As Garcetti’s 15-minute segment with Hinojosa came to an end, he addressed whether Los Angeles should be categorized as a “sanctuary city.” The mayor deemed the phrase to be a broad term that evokes an inaccurate caricature from “fifty percent of the country” as “places that invite dangerous criminals” who are “given bonus points if they’re undocumented.”
“If a ‘sanctuary city’ means that your police force will not be deputized or take it upon themselves to enforce immigration law, then absolutely we are and proudly so,” Garcetti prevaricated.
“We’re not doing these things because we’re a bunch of lefties,” the mayor continued. “We’re proud of our politics being progressive out here. We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”
NPR’s Latino USA is a weekly show created by the Futuro Media Group, a nonprofit founded by Hinojosa “committed to producing ethical journalism from a POC (people of color) perspective and representing the new American mainstream.”
Coincidentally, the company is financed by part of the same global conglomerate of foundations that have bankrolled the NDLON, including Unbound Philanthropy and the Ford Foundation. From 2010-2015, Hinojosa’s Futuro Media Group received $9,764,142 in grants and contributions to produce programming like last week’s interview with Mayor Garcetti.
You can listen to Garcetti's interview with NPR here.