LAPD Postpones Encampment Sweep After 'Hush Hush' Email Leaked

A homeless encampment forms on Venice Beach in Los Angeles on June 8, 2021.
A homeless encampment forms on Venice Beach in Los Angeles on June 8, 2021.

A homeless encampment forms on Venice Beach in Los Angeles on June 8, 2021.

The Los Angeles Police Department has postponed a sweep of an encampment of unhoused people after a controversial email from a high-ranking officer was leaked on the internet.

In the email sent June 14, Senior Lead Officer Brittney Gutierrez alerted multiple people that there would be a mass arrest Thursday during a cleanup of an encampment in the West Hills neighborhood and that people’s belongings would be confiscated by the Los Angeles Sanitation Department. 

“Everyone will be arrested and all their belongings will be taken away by sanitation,” the LAPD officer wrote.

She suggested that the operation would be executed covertly, calling the effort a “hush hush task force” so police could arrest everyone there.

“As always, do not approach these individuals experiencing homelessness. I want to make sure all are there at the encampment on the 29th so I can arrest them,” her email said. “This is a hush hush task force.”

Encampment sweeps forcibly push unhoused people out of their makeshift shelters in an effort to clean up the city. Community organizers have pushed back against the sweeps and the ordinances that permit them, policies that many refer to as a citywide effort to criminalize being unhoused rather than addressing core issues such as the city’s affordable housing crisis. 

William Gude, who runs a popular Twitter account that tracks reports of police misconduct, @FilmThePoliceLA, posted a screenshot of the email from Gutierrez on Twitter on Tuesday. 

Community activist Katherine Tattersfield told HuffPost that she obtained a copy of the email through a network of sources who remain anonymous, then sent the screenshot to Gude.

“The LAPD frequently harasses and arrests people experiencing homelessness,” Tattersfield, a frequent critic of the LAPD, said.

“It’s disheartening, but I am very glad that this came to light because the LAPD statement says that this is out of protocol, and we know that that’s not true,” Tattersfield added. “We know that this is protocol.”

The LAPD called the email “highly inappropriate” and announced that it would be postponing the sweep in a statement

“When enforcement becomes necessary it is in response to a criminal action. Enforcement will not be used as a means of creating a quick fix to a complicated situation, nor will it be based solely on the person’s homeless status,” the statement continued.

LAPD also said that the officer “who authored the email” will undergo “extensive training” by the department’s Homeless Coordinator’s Office.

An officer by the name of Brittney Gutierrez, along with another officer, Jaime Mejia, shot and killed 34-year-old Michael Cano on Nov. 9, 2015, according to a document from the Los Angeles district attorney. The officers, responding to a report of a man acting strangely in the middle of a street, said that Cano got a hold of an officer’s beanbag weapon amid the confrontation and that they then shot him with their service weapons. The district attorney concluded in a 2018 report that both officers had acted in “lawful self-defense.” 

The badge number in Gutierrez’s email aligns with the one listed in the district attorney’s document. 

The LAPD declined HuffPost’s request for comment on the possible connection and the email.