Black Lives Matter activist sues Police Commission, LAPD
Akili was arrested in 2016 after speaking out during a meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission
Attorney Dermot Givens and client civil rights activist Greg Akili stand in front of Los Angeles Police Department headquarters Tues., May 9 to announce a federal civil rights lawsuit. Akili was arrested in 2016 after speaking out during a meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Also pictured are law professor Dr. Angela James and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles organizer Dr. Melina Abdullah. Photo: Jasmyne Cannick/Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter organizer Greg Akili seeks legal redress for arrest at Police Commission Meeting; suit seeks $4 million for lies told during trial
LOS ANGELES (MNS) — Civil rights activist and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles organizer Greg Akili held a press conference with his attorney Dermot Givens to announce a federal lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Commission and Los Angeles Police Department for Akili’s Feb. 9, 2016, arrest during a meeting of the police commission.
Akili was arrested after verbally challenging commission president Matt Johnson for giving warnings to audience members. In January, a jury deadlocked on charges of battery on a peace officer that was followed by a motion from the City Attorney’s office to dismiss the charge altogether.
According to the lawsuit, Richard Tefank, executive director of the Los Angeles Police Commission, orchestrated the violation of Akili’s civil rights that included Tefank and multiple officers lying under oath during the trial that Akili battered an officer. On a video of the incident Tefank and can be heard telling Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck that he [Akili] needs to go to jail.
At the trial, Tefank testified that he saw Akili “bear hug” an LAPD officer. That same officer then testified that Akili grabbed toward her breast, then grabbed at her gun causing a red bruise on her rib cage. During the trial, the prosecutor did not call the arresting officers to testify.
Even though the battery charge was dropped, no charges for perjury have been brought against Tefank or the officers who lied under oath that they saw Akili batter the officer.
The lawsuit alleges false arrest and multiple constitutional violations and seeks $4 million in damages for, according to Akili’s attorney Dermot Givens, “every lie told under oath during the trial.”
About a dozen people have been arrested during commission meetings in the past year, either on suspicion of resisting an officer, battery on an officer or refusing to disperse, according to a review of LAPD records by a local daily newspaper.
Akili, a nationally known community organizer, worked in that capacity for the United Farm Workers (UFW) under the leadership of the late Cesar Chavez. With the encouragement and support of Chavez, Akili helped form the United Domestic Workers (UDW) union in a historic effort to improve the working conditions and safety for thousands of African-American and Latino female home care workers throughout California.
He served as the national organizer for the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign, and Western Regional field director for the NAACP.