Nationwide demonstrations against the use of deadly force by police offers have been going on for months. Protests erupted again after grand juries decided not to file indictments in both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner shootings. If you haven’t seen them on the streets, you’ve seen them in the news. There’s widespread outrage over the fact that police continue to use deadly force against unarmed men, and that our legal system seems incapable of holding anyone accountable.
It’s not just in Ferguson and New York that unarmed men are dying at the hands of the police. The LAPD has still not offered a concrete reason for stopping Ezell Ford as he was walking down the street near 65th and Broadway. They claim he reached for an officer’s gun before he was fatally shot. In Echo Park, David Martinez went out to buy some tacos for his family, and used his cell phone to call 911 when he heard gunshots. When police arrived on the scene, they shot Martinez himself, and months later he died from his injuries. This article from the Daily News offers details on recent shootings by the LAPD, and the resulting protests by angry citizens.
Protests are good for expressing outrage and drawing attention to an issue, but protests will only go so far. At some point you have to start thinking about concrete measures to bring about change. That’s exactly what the South Central Neighborhood Council has done. On December 16, the SCNC voted to pass the following resolution….
South Central Neighborhood Council resolves to request the Los Angeles City Council District nine, Councilmember Curren Price, to introduce the following resolution before the Los Angeles City Council chamber:
Whereas, accountability for the Los Angeles Police Department has not been achieved through the establishment of the Police Commmission, an appointed review board with no authority to discipline police officers;
And whereas, accountability for the Los Angeles Police Department has not been achieved through the establishment of the Federal Consent Decree;
And whereas, abuses of power by the Los Angeles Police Department continue to violate the Human and Civil Rights of the residents of Los Angeles;
And whereas, democracy and community control is the only way to ensure accountability for public institutions and to promote the general welfare;
Be it therefore resolved that the South Central Neighborhood Council calls upon Councilman Curren Price to introduce a resolution to the Los Angeles City Council to place on the ballot an amendment to the Los Angeles City Charter establishing democratic, community control over the Los Angeles Police Department through an all-elected, all-civilian, police control board with full authority over the department in all aspects at all levels.
They’re absolutely right. The LA Police Commisson has not been effective. They can hold hearings and talk about solutions, but they have no real power to change anything. We need an elected body that has the authority to effect change within the LAPD. This isn’t just a matter of prosecuting officers involved in shootings. We need to change the culture within the Department. We need elected representatives who will insist on accountability.
The SCNC deserves credit for taking this action. I hope Councilmember Price, and the entire City Council, take this up in the near future. And if they don’t, there are other ways to push this forward. I don’t think we’d have any trouble getting enough signatures to put it on the ballot.