Venice Beach, CA – Critics are blasting the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) over a viral cell phone video showing officers armed with rifles surrounding a homeless encampment on Venice Beach (video below).
Footage of the July 25 incident was originally posted to TikTok and has since been widely shared on various social media platforms.
The video shows a group of people, at least one with his hands in the air, kneeling in the sand in front of a dense grouping of tents and tarps as the armed LAPD officers faced them with their weapons drawn.
Critics claimed police swarmed the encampment to evict homeless people from the beach, but the LAPD said they were actually responding to a report that a man was threatening to shoot people, Insider reported.
According to LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman, the officers were told the suspect was a white male in a blue tent.
When they located him, the unnamed suspect claimed that he pulled out his pellet gun to defend himself after a woman tried to steal his bicycle, Officer Eisenman told Insider.
No injuries were reported during the confrontation.
Police detained the man briefly, but released him because carrying a pellet gun does not violate the law.
“Officers arrived, the witness pointed out the tent with the alleged male with a handgun and tactical deployed,” Officer Eisenman told Insider. “The portion of the video being circulated depicts this. The individuals were ordered out of the tent and complied.”
The homeless crisis on Venice Beach has been a hot topic for local lawmakers, Insider reported.
Last week, all but two Los Angeles city councilmembers voted in favor of an ordinance that would outlaw “sitting, lying, or sleeping” in the vicinity of “sensitive use” areas, such as libraries, parks, schools, sidewalks, streets, bridges, and freeway ramps, according to the news outlet.
Los Angeles has the second-largest homeless population in the United States, according to the Associated Press.
An estimated 1,600 of the city’s 41,000 homeless people are concentrated at Venice Beach.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below.
Cops bring assault rifles to evict the homeless off of Venice Beach pic.twitter.com/19I0veJcbS
— OccuWorld 🏴 (@OccuWorld) August 3, 2021