White People 4 Black Lives is in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter activists and allies who have been participating in the #DecolonizeLACityHall encampment in Los Angeles since July 12, 2016. On this date, the Los Angeles Police Commission--the alleged “community oversight” board to the Los Angeles Police Department--found the murder of #RedelJones to be “in policy.” We believe that this and other inactions by the police commission illustrate that the police commission is ineffective at holding officers accountable for excessive use of force and murder, and perpetuates the abusive and murderous tactics of the LAPD.
According to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles: Redel Jones, who stood 4'10" tall, was accused of stealing $80 with a kitchen knife from a local pharmacy on August 12, 2015. By witness accounts, she was running away from police when she was spotted in an alley and shot as she fled; her body laid on the pavement for hours and her family was not notified of her death for more than a week. Redel was the mother of a 7 year-old girl and a 13 year-old boy; her husband, Marcus Vaughn, travelled to Los Angeles by bus to be present for the ruling. Her family is still reeling from her death and outraged by the ruling.*
The day after the Redel Jones verdict was read, the mayor and police chief were on “official” business at the White House to engage in dialogue about policing in the United States, yet they refuse to engage in dialogue about policing in their backyard. The strategic absence of the mayor and police chief at a time when there would be anticipated community backlash is not new and only further demonstrates their unwillingness to engage with community members who critique policing practices. Instead of firing Beck or meeting with activists at the encampment, which have been demanded by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti chooses to meet with who he deems so-called voices of Black communities in Los Angeles who will not call into question or demand scrutiny of policing practices in the city.
While at this forum on policing at the White House, Chief Beck espoused that the community needs more “dialogue” in Los Angeles about policing. Yet he fails to create such opportunities for meaningful dialogue. The only space for alleged “dialogue” is at the inaccessible LA Police Commission meetings that are held at 9:30a.m. on Tuesday mornings, when most people have to work. It is held at the epicenter of policing, the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters, rather than at a community-based site. The optics alone in this “community meeting” are unsettling to witness: armed police officers in the room surrounding the public, the first two rows closest to the Board of Police Commissioners closed to the public--reserved for police officers only, Commissioners and Charlie Beck on their cell phones during public comment, and members of the public being arrested for speaking during public comment or speaking past their 2 minute public comment time. Still, Black Lives Matter activists and allies attend weekly to have their voices heard. Dialogue can only go so far though, when the community demands action.
When Beck provided his weekly report to the Commission just one week after the Redel Jones verdict, he focused solely on “Black on Black” crime. This is a direct insult to Black Lives Matter activists, who continue to push back against this common tactic of focusing on “Black on Black crime” as a way to divert attention from police excessive use of force. This is a false narrative because it is a phenomenon that simply doesn’t exist. Crime almost always occurs intra-racially and it is not unique to Black people, and in fact is a direct result of racial segregation that exists in the city. Therefore, when crimes are committed, they are overwhelmingly likely to be committed between people of the same racial or ethnic background. Beck didn’t include this information in his report.
The policies and practices of killing Angelenos with impunity must end, and in order for it to end, accountability needs to start with Charlie Beck and his failed leadership. Mayor Eric Garcetti must #FireBeck and demonstrate that he does not enjoy and will not tolerate having the LAPD rank as the most murderous law enforcement agency in the country. This should be considered a disgrace and a mark on his record as mayor. A Black life was taken by Los Angeles Police, and once again, it was found in policy. With 21 people murdered in 2015 and 11 murdered this year, many with a known history of mental health issues, one must begin to question the policies of LAPD. One must assume the lack of accountability, lack of de-escalation training, and policies that allow for Black and Brown people running away from police to be killed, all synergistically create the conditions for LAPD to be the most murderous law enforcement agency in the country. No doubt, protection is provided to the police-turned-vigilantes under Chief Beck, who is on record stating that he will “protect” police officers like the “vests that they wear.” Furthermore, although over 1,000 complaints were filed against officers in the past year, NONE of them led to admonishment or punishment for any of the officers involved--even the LA Police Commission President Matt Johnson, who is no friend of Black Lives Matter, had to call this into question. White People 4 Black Lives supports Black Lives Matter Los Angeles’ call to #FireBeck for these reasons. We do not want this occupying force in the city. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, who demands of all of us to reimagine what public safety should look like.
Black Lives Matter Los Angeles local demands:
Fire Chief Beck for his refusal to hold LAPD officers accountable.
Work in partnership with the Los Angeles City Council to develop a reparations strategy.
Hold Police Commission meetings that are open, accessible, and at a time when working people can attend.
Appoint real community advocates to key commission seats.
Adhere to the agreed Town Hall meeting structure with Black community negotiated in July 2015.
*This excerpt is taken from a petition Black Lives Matter Los Angeles is asking for community support in signing, please visit: https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/fire-police-chief-charlie-beck-for-leading-the-most-murderous-police-force-in-the-united-states