The Corner

Rioting Hits a Sanctuary City

The Los Angeles Police Department’s sanctuary policy is officially intended to foster trust between illegal aliens and the LAPD–in particular, to ensure that illegal aliens cooperate with the police in reporting crime. No one has ever shown that sanctuary policies result in more witness cooperation than would occur without such policies, but we can now say with assurance that the more general “trust and good will” rationale for sanctuary policies is bogus.

For the last two days, Hispanics in the Westlake section of Los Angeles, a poor neighborhood of Mexicans and Central Americans close to downtown, have violently clashed with the police following the fatal shooting on Sunday of a drunken Guatemalan “day laborer” — i.e., illegal alien — who had been threatening passersby with a vicious-looking knife. Responding at 9.30 p.m. to a 911 call regarding the knife-wielding assailant, three officers on bikes confronted 37-year-old Manuel Jamines with weapons drawn and repeatedly asked Jamines in Spanish and English to drop the knife. Instead, Jamines, who, as was his weekend wont, had been drinking since 9 a.m., lunged at them with the knife over his head, according to LAPD chief Charles Beck. Officer Frank Hernandez responded with two shots which killed Jamines.

The subsequent protests could well have been organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton. Residents have thrown rocks and bottles at officers, set trashcans on fire, and hurled projectiles at the windows of the local Rampart police station, while calling the police “assassins” and demanding “justice.” A store security guard had to flee in his car after protesters got in a shoving match with him; as he sped away, they threw objects at his car. As usual in such matters, witnesses are claiming that Jamines was unarmed.

The LAPD has worked for years on cleaning up the Westlake-Ramparts section from the gangs and disorder that have characterized it. Illegal aliens and their progeny have been both the perpetrators and victims of that disorder; they are also the beneficiaries of the department’s recent progress in cleaning up the landmark MacArthur Park, which had been infested with the drug trade and prostitution.

Chief Charles Beck, who recently took over the LAPD from William Bratton, is one of the department’s most street-savvy commanders; he took command of the Rampart police division following the greatly overhyped Rampart corruption scandal of the late 1990s and restored the division’s crucial role in aggressively fighting gangs. Beck’s rise to the head of the department was a great boon to Los Angeles. Beck is also an unequivocal defender of Special Order 40, the LAPD’s controversial sanctuary policy. Given the unstoppable power of Latinos in Los Angeles politics, it is unlikely that Special Order 40 will ever be reconsidered. But Beck is having a lesson in the limits of a policy that panders to the illegal alien lobby.

Heather Mac Donald — Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The War on Cops

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