As LAPD Killings Soar, Police Commission Trying to Remove Last Shred of Accountability

PM Beers
September 14, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Los Angeles, CA — On Tuesday, September 15th, the Los Angeles Police Commission will be voting on new rules for public attendance and participation at the commission meeting to “establish an appropriate level of safety, decorum, and efficiency.” The new rules were originally on the agenda for September 1st but were postponed after the ACLU voiced concerns. The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition also harbored apprehensions, which they addressed in an open letter to the ACLU.

The proposal the commission will vote on would call for the removal of any person disrupting the meeting. According to the proposed regulations, if order cannot be restored by removing disruptive persons, the commission will be free to walk out of the meeting. The room would then be cleared — except for credentialed members of the press — and the meeting would then continue without the presence of members of the public. Public comments would not be allowed, which is a violation of the Brown Act. Further, the proposed new rules do not give guidelines for how people on the panel at the police commission meetings should conduct themselves.

A man wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt spoke during public comments at a recent police commission meeting, expressing concern about the stifling of dissent: “We come here every day on behalf of people who have died, on behalf of the families of people who have died in Los Angeles, by the police department, and you laugh in our faces. You won’t listen to us.” A woman in the audience interjected, “You fall asleep.” The man continued, “You won’t look us in our eyes. (Chief Beck) goes on vacation while this is all going on and it’s just disrespectful. We don’t need people on this commission who are not going to take the public comments seriously. This is a public time to tell you that you’re doing something wrong. I know at my job when my boss comes to me and says ‘You’re doing this wrong, you need to fix it,’ I better fix it. I know if I don’t, I get fired. That’s why I’m looking at you,” he said, gesturing to Chief Beck. Another woman in the audience asked, “Why are you still here?” He continued, “Because you (Chief Beck)  need to be fired. I’m also looking at you (Steve Soberoff) because you need to be fired.”

Pete White of LACAN spoke out, as well: “You know it’s clear that your government is working against you when it works harder to silence your voice than it does to stop the murder and the use of force against black people in our community,” he said.

Dr. Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter called the commission proposal “one of the most blatant efforts to silence an engaged public in recent memory.” She addressed the commission: “I want to talk about these rules of decorum that you’re trying to push through and you’re playing games by trying to move it around on the agenda. We know what you’re trying to do. You’re calling it rules of decorum. You know who has no decorum? You.” She gestured in the direction of the panel, saying “You all have no decorum. If you want to talk about respect, you all are constantly disrespectful. I’m looking at Sandra Figueroa right now, who never even bothers to look the people who took time out of their day in the eye. That’s so disrespectful. You’re so condescending. You’re so oppressive and repressive in your approach. How dare you try to silence us. If we were another community you would applaud us for being an engaged citizenry. We’re black and brown folks in here so you act like you’re under attack. We’re the ones surrounded by armed guards, by people with guns who have a history of assassinating our folks. So I’m going to say you’re not going to… You wanna smirk? If they come over on your side and killed your son you wouldn’t be smirking. Let me say this…” At this point, a buzzer sounded indicating the speaker’s time was up. She continued anyway: “You can move it on the agenda as much as you—” Soberoff, who had just been called out for smirking, callously said, “Next.” Abdullah pressed further, saying, “We’re gonna be here as much, as long as it takes for us to get justice.” Before she finished speaking, a woman’s voice could be heard saying, “The next five speakers are…

Hamid Khan of Stop LAPD Spying also addressed the commission: “You want to police our speech. You want to police our manners. You want to police our expressions. You have been disdainful towards the community. You have dismissed our concerns. As of yesterday, 778 people have been murdered by law enforcement in the country. Do you know which city leads the country?” Several people in the audience said, “L.A.” Khan continued: “When you do the math, every 7 hours and 31 minutes someone is being murdered by law enforcement in the United States. L.A. leads the pack. North Dakota just passed a law that their police drones will have non-lethal weapons, including rubber bullets and tear gas. Here we are, one of the most highly militarized law enforcement agencies, which operates like a counterinsurgency force, backed up by a massive architecture of surveillance, and your response to an eight page letter is ‘come and speak for two minutes in public comments.’”

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition has published the following statement:

“As the police commission seeks ways to further silence our speech and police our manners, our emotions, our expressions, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has already committed the highest number of murders this year compared to all police agencies in the country. As the commission re-defines “disruption” during its meetings, LAPD continues to build itself as one of the most militarized counter-insurgency agency driven by a massive architecture of surveillance. And as the commission reviews new rules of enforcement during meetings that include warnings, removal, and barring people from further participation in the meetings, the LAPD is free to sabotage the consent decree, racially profile, manipulate reports, and conspire and fabricate false evidence against human rights defenders like LA CAN’s Deborah Burton, where the jury found LAPD to have blatantly lied and falsely accused Debbie.  None of these and many more instances of LAPD corruption, violence, and intentional violation of people’s’ rights brought to the commission’s attention over the years backed by facts and clear evidence have gotten any meaningful response, investigations, and hearings from this civilian oversight body.   

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition will continue to publicly expose the commissioners of their failure. The commission has shamefully shown total disregard, disdain, and dismissiveness of community concerns and demands to end programs that promote racial profiling such as Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Program, continued militarization of LAPD with the acquisition of drones, sham hearings regarding body cameras, and the violation of the consent decree by sabotaging of the digital in car video systems. Click here for our original letter to the commission that highlights these points.”

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles are asking people to come to the police commission meeting Tuesday morning — and they are encouraging people to speak at public comments to let the police commission know how they feel about the issue. Community members are allowed to submit a comment card to speak for two minutes on each agenda item and for general public comments on any topic. The Los Angeles Police Commission meets every Tuesday at 9:30 AM at LAPD Headquarters, located at 100 W. 1st street in downtown Los Angeles.

Follow the social media hashtag #‎LAPCFAILS‬ to keep up to date on this story.

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