LAPD Kettles Ferguson Demonstrators: A Participant’s Account

Robert Gabrielsky

Account by a longtime socialist and labor activist of the arrest by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) of over 100 Ferguson support demonstrators who took to the streets on November 26, and of their inhuman treatment in jail – Editors


I was arrested on Wednesday before Thanksgiving at about 8:30 pm at 6th and Hope with about 100 or so other people while participating in a demonstration in solidarity with Ferguson/Michael Brown.  We were charged with failure to disperse.  The police had ordered us to disperse at 7th and Flower and though they had us surrounded at that point they gave us a small opening through which to exit.  We moved to 6th and Hope where there was virtually no pedestrian traffic where the police again surrounded us an announced that we were all under arrest.  Had I been given the opportunity, I would have left, but I wasn’t.  Several other people would have taken the same course of action.  That is, many people would have taken the opportunity to leave the area had they been given the opportunity.  From what I could see the demonstration was entirely peaceful.  People did jay walk, but so did many pedestrians not affiliated with the demo.  People also did march in the street, but they always let traffic through and returned to the sidewalk when ordered to do so by the police.  The object of the demo was the Staples Center where a Laker game was underway.  I think the police were concerned with an interaction between Laker fans and the demonstrators.

Upon arrest my backpack, containing many items that I use regularly such as my phone, my transit pass, my ATM card, my house key, my blood pressure cuff, some of my heart meds, my ID, my Medicare card, etc., along with all the contents of all my pockets were confiscated by the police.  I was assured that all this would travel with me to wherever I was being taken.  As it turns out, that was not the case.  About 60 of us (cis-males) were taken the 77th Street jail.  I was ultimately released around 2 pm on Thanksgiving.  By 4 pm everyone who had been arrested was released.  I had to spend the night in a 10 x 10 holding cell with 17 others.  It was an interesting evening. We had long discussions of religion, evolution, politics, etc.  There was an RCPer in the cell.  While I do not at all share the world view of the RCP it was an interesting experience to be in the same position vis a vis authority as was this person and really get down to the essentials of a shared humanity.  In such circumstances, in terms of our relationship to authority, a person’s beliefs or the nature of their crime doesn’t really matter much.  It is hard to describe how much your freedom of action is circumscribed in such circumstances, but essentially, in that context, we were all in the same boat.

Upon release we were told that our possessions were being held in central booking and would not be available until Monday, as the property department would be closed for the long Thanksgiving weekend.  This was either cosmically stupid or a conscious act and while not a conspiracy theorist, I had seen some tweets from the day before indicating that this was planned in an effort to discourage demonstrations over the long weekend with the hopes that after several days the enthusiasm of the demonstrators would wane.  They gave us a bus token home, but basically, without my transportation pass (TAP card) I can’t really go anywhere until Monday morning.  Also, I do not have phone access until Monday, so if you want to reach me please e-mail me.

Also, my court date is February 4 and I would appreciate it if anyone is available for support on that date if they could show up.

One of the funniest things that happened were the official police inquires about my sexual orientation.  They weren’t singling me out.  They asked everyone.  It was how they asked that was funny, as well as how I answered, but I don’t have the energy for that anecdote right now.

If anyone has the time and energy to go to a Ferguson solidarity demo, you should.


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  1. Matt Owen

    Greetings, Gabe! Sucks that you and your fellow demonstrators were so shabbily treated in LA: no such problems in Riverside (or in San Bernardino at the previous demo outside the Mexican Consulate) “por ahora”…but we weren’t threatening the profits of the 1%! We at Mission Solidarity were among those who were urging those who attended Black Friday demos against Wal-Mart to likewise attend Ferguson solidarity actions, and vice-versa: this may have had something to do with why Occupy Riverside cancelled the Ferguson solidarity demo which fell on Black Friday…maybe not, but one can hope!

    On Thursday, there will be a Fight for $15 action in San Diego (please see ) followed by a Marxism Conference that Saturday, put on by the ISO (please see ): we at MS are urging those going to the ISO conference to also attend the $15/hr. action, and drawing attention of those going to it to the Marxism Conference. We’re also thinking about a demo on the border bridge the Friday between these two events to tie the struggles against impunity in the US and Mexico together: will let know how that goes. That’s what Mission Solidarity is: a social mission to facilitate solidarity between socialists and workers. We hope you find these events of interest, and please post your court date as a FB event. Hasta mas pronto como posible, MKO.

  2. Dan Beltaigne

    Hi Gabe,
    Sorry, can’t show up for your court date, but maybe I can find out about something that is legally useful. My instructor, whom I will meet tomorrow, was once the assistant DA here in Brown County, so I could ask her questions if you like.

    As always,



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