The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has said it is “troubled” by reports that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) used its baseball venue as a “field jail” for people arrested while staging Black Lives Matter protests.
In an open letter on Tuesday, a group of UCLA professors voiced their outrage after receiving “chilling testimony” from demonstrators who said their arrests were processed at the Jackie Robinson Stadium, which is named after “an icon of the long and unfinished struggle for Black freedom”.
Protesters in Los Angeles and other American cities took to the streets last week after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Jackie Robinson attended UCLA and later broke baseball’s colour barrier by becoming the first black man to play in the major leagues. He grew famous for overcoming racial hatred in a widely segregated society, and after retiring from baseball he became active in the US civil rights movement.
“UCLA did not receive or authorize a request to use that space for processing arrestees,” the school said in a statement provided to Reuters.
“LAPD has vacated the property and we informed them that future use as an arrest processing center will not be granted by UCLA.”
The stadium, which is owned by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and leased by the school, is occasionally used as a staging area during fires or other emergencies, a UCLA spokesman said.
The LAPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.