Las Vegas, NV (STL.News) Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo addressed the controversy surrounding recent arrests of demonstrators who attended a protest on Saturday, June 13, which began in front of the Bellagio fountains, during a press conference on Tuesday.
Lombardo talked about the arrests of several legal observers, the controversy surrounding it and the agency’s transparency and its history of reform, which includes a recent update of the LVMPD’s Use of Force policy on May 15, that other agencies are looking at as an industry standard. He stated that despite officers working 87 protests over the past few weeks, resulting in the injury of at least 42 officers, the protests have been largely peaceful.
Lombardo said that as the demonstration progressed, concerns over protester’s safety and welfare arose. Protesters were seen walking into oncoming traffic, impeding people’s access to newly opened businesses and trying to access a freeway to block traffic. When it became apparent that protesters were a danger to themselves, and others police issued dispersal orders signifying the end of the protest.
The protests were attended by several legal observers who identified themselves with red shirts. The role of legal observers is to be neutral and impartial observers and witness the protest, according to a document generated by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Video released at Tuesday’s press conference showed some legal observers being confrontational, ignoring dispersal orders and walking into the middle of the street despite earlier warnings by officers to stay on the sidewalk. Several were seen leaning into police vehicles and impeding officers’ ability to move their vehicles.
Lombardo ended by stating that the LVMPD is open to change but pointed out changes that have been LVMPD one of the most progressive police departments in the country.
“This department has always asked of the public to work with us and not against us,” Lombardo said. “Let’s be the city that models behavior we want the rest of the country to follow.”