LOS ANGELES (CNS) - With today's planned release of graphic video depicting the fatal beating of a 29-year-old Black man by five Memphis, Tennessee, police officers, Southern California law enforcement agencies will be keeping a close watch to respond to possible local protests that might emerge.
A Los Angeles Police Department representative told City News Service the agency is monitoring the situation, but it has not moved into an official state of heightened alert. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department also said it is monitoring, but there was no other official statement.
Some city of Los Angeles neighborhood councils received messages from the LAPD this week saying police are aware of the pending release of video and the possibility of protests, and noting that the department is prepared to respond and facilitate peaceful demonstrations. The messages noted that there were no known "threats or protests" in the city in advance of the video release, which is expected at 4 p.m. Pacific time.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, in a statement on social media, said the agency is on standby.
"We understand there may be strong reactions to the incident described by the Memphis police chief as `reckless and inhumane,"' Barnes said. "At this time, we do not have information that any significant events will occur locally related to the release of this video. Our department will protect the First Amendment rights of those who peacefully demonstrate. We are also appropriately prepared and ready to respond if anyone attempts to act criminally."
The video is expected to depict a Jan. 7 traffic stop in Memphis that led to the death in a hospital three days later of Tyre Nichols. Five police officers allegedly involved in the confrontation and beating of Nichols were fired last week, and all were charged this week with second-degree murder and other offenses.
Police and others familiar with the case have warned that the video is graphic, rivaling that of the 1991 LAPD beating of Rodney King.
A group of community activists gathered in Leimert Park on Friday morning ahead of the video's release, calling for peaceful protests, and urging residents to gather to watch the video "collectively as one."
Activist Najee Ali noted that after the 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Los Angeles "exploded with different protests ... all over L.A. County."
Nichols' family has spoken out in advance of the video release, calling for peace.
"More than anything we want peace," Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, said Thursday. "We do not want any type of uproar. We do not want any type of disturbance."
Famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Nichols' family and also represented Floyd's family, also called for peace and hailed Memphis officials for acting swiftly to fire the officers involved and charge them with murder.
Rodney King's daughter, Lora Dene King, issued a statement through Ali Thursday decrying the police assault of Nichols as "extremely sickening."
"We should not have to witness such things in this world over and over with a different name behind the hashtags," she said.
"Watching these type of videos has become very disturbing. It triggers past beatings often in comparison to my father's brutal 1991 beating with the LAPD. This is something I will never understand. I wish to send the family God's Grace and mercy and strength to keep his legacy and good deeds alive as well. I am happy to know he (Nichols) loved skateboarding like my father. I hope his family find strength the most; in the days to come."
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