White People 4 Black Lives is in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles’ call to #FireBeck. Los Angeles Police Chief, Charlie Beck, has reigned over LAPD since 2009. In that time, he continued the oversight of policies and practices that led to police killing Angelenos with impunity. In addition to overseeing the most murderous police force in the country, under the watchful eye of Charlie Beck, a recent scandal came to light within the LAPD cadet program that included several police officers, stolen police vehicles, and statutory rape. Not surprisingly, the Chief stood in front of cameras for the photo op, condemning the unlawful actions of his police officers. In that moment, Chief Beck had the opportunity to do right by Angelenos to hold himself personally responsible for the practices of the LAPD. In light of the latest fiasco, Los Angeles residents must consider the following question: Are corrupt and violent officers ‘bad apples’ or a product of a police culture where cop frequently violate our civil rights while receiving protection from their superiors?
Looking at the LAPD’s recent record, it is clear that Chief Beck has perpetuated the culture of impunity that Los Angeles law enforcement has been notorious for since its inception. Chief Beck went on the record saying he will “protect” police officers like the “vests that they wear.” This protection almost always extends to cops who trample on our civil rights, abuse and kill Black and Brown Angelenos, and purjor themselves to cover up their tracks. LAPD officer are so well protected that from 2012-2014, not a single racial profiling complaint out of 1,356 led to disciplinary action for the officers involved. These send a clear and powerful message to officers and the community at large: criminal behavior is condoned and perpetuated by this Police Chief.
Chief Beck’s culture of impunity and police overreach extend to all facets of community engagement. Countless examples exist to support his failure to conduct an accountable and transparent department. In the past, the Police Protective League, the union representing the majority of LAPD, took Chief Beck to court, claiming he had a "corrupting influence" on the disciplinary process. Before the Police Commission investigates instances of potential misconduct that includes excessive use of force, Beck makes his own ruling on the force used. This puts pressure on the Commission to find the officers in policy regardless of the information they receive that could otherwise discipline the officer. This undermines the authority of the Board. Beck permits his department to withhold footage, edit videos, and turn off the recording equipment before interactions without any punishment. He has said he has "no plans to release video footage" from dash cams and body cams to the public. Additionally, twenty-two minutes of the surveillance tapes of Wakiesha Wilson’s death (while in police custody) are missing and Chief Beck has done nothing to address this. He has expressed openly and publicly that “the vast majority of the time” he sides with police, “regardless of public opinion.” It is clear through his actions and his words, he protects police officers from accountability in all possible ways at the expense of Angelenos most targeted by his police force. Meanwhile, community members continue to attend Police Commission meetings and are subject to arrest, including an 81 year old man--who spoke for 10 seconds during public comment and was arrested in front of Chief Beck.
Not only does Charlie Beck's irresponsibility lead to the murder of Black and Brown Angelenos, but those murders also cost the city of Los Angeles millions of dollars to settle the many civil lawsuits against the LAPD. The LA City Council projects the city will have to pay out $135 million in 2017 to settle litigation brought by grieving families, disability-rights groups and people wrongfully convicted of crimes. In order to do so, the City will have to borrow $70 million to avoid dipping into its emergency fund.
This toxic culture must end, starting with accountability. Los Angeles must turn the page on Charlie Beck’s failed leadership. Mayor Eric Garcetti must #FireBeck and demonstrate that he will not tolerate an LAPD ranked as the most murderous law enforcement agency in the country. Together, the people of Los Angeles must shatter the blue shield that protects police corruption and violence and undermines our collective pursuit of safety and justice.
Take Action! Call Mayor Garcetti's Office (213-978-0600) and demand he #FireBeck because of Chief Charlie Beck's failure to hold violent, corrupt, and killer cops accountable. Call daily, it only takes a few seconds.
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 night - a time when working people can attend.
Appoint real community advocates to key commission seats.
Adhere to the agreed upon Town Hall meeting structure with Black community negotiated in July 2015.