Los Angeles Police obstructs democratic right to protest

The LAPD has refused has refused to grant a permit for a march on the 9th annual Summit of the Americas, organized by the People’s Summit

May 31, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
The People’s Summit held a press conference on May 31, featuring speakers from Union de Vecinos, the ANSWER Coalition, International People’s Assembly and more

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has refused to grant a permit for a march on the 9th annual Summit of the Americas, denying the organizers and supporters of the People’s Summit their democratic right to protest, organizers announced in a press statement. The People’s Summit organizers applied for a permit as early as February 25 for their march on June 10. They say that the LAPD has stalled for months and claimed that the Secret Service and Federal Government were contributing to the delay.

The right to free speech and protest is protected under the US constitution. People’s Summit organizers are still fighting for a permit, but plan to march regardless of the outcome. 

“We view this as an undemocratic violation of our constitutionally protected free speech activity.” said Estevan Hernández of the Answer Coalition during a May 31 press conference hosted by the People’s Summit. “Regardless of what happens with the permit…we will march next week.”

The People’s Summit is being organized to counter the US-dominated Summit of the Americas. The Summit of the Americas claims to convene leadership across the Americas to discuss “building a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future”. This is the second time that this summit will be hosted in the US since its founding Summit held in Miami in 1994. The stakes are high for US President Biden to ensure that it is a success, but Biden has already encountered enormous difficulties. 

The Summit of the Americas is heavily US-influenced and has already decided to exclude two countries the US is hostile towards: Venezuela and Nicaragua and has yet to decide about the participation of Cuba. Leaders across the hemisphere have responded to these exclusions with threats to boycott the summit altogether. “How can a summit be ‘of America’ without all the countries of America?” said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who has opted to boycott if the US does not reverse its decision to exclude the countries.

During the People’s Summit press conference, Manolo De Los Santos of the International Peoples’ Assembly stated, “Biden’s summit has already failed because they refused to practice actual democracy…We are not voiceless, we have voices and we are going to raise them in our People’s Summit.”

The Peoples Summit will counter the pre-existing agenda of US domination in the Americas.  As Angelica Salas, Executive Director of CHIRLA, stated, 

“The People’s Summit will lift up all those issues important to our people but left out of that other presidential summit across town: the rights of immigrants, women and workers, the rebuilding and protection of democratic norms, the security of families. We will present a different vision of the Western Hemisphere as a place of peace, freedom and prosperity for all that excludes no country, no faith, no race, and no gender.”

The US has also denied visas to a 23-person Cuban civil society delegation slated to participate in the People’s Summit. Of this exclusion, Manolo de los Santos stated, “The US government’s policy towards is cruel towards the Cuban people, but also towards the people of the United States who are being denied the right to not only relate with the people on the Island, but also to be able to speak and dialogue directly with them.”