(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 82)
In her motion to consider withdrawing support for the LAPD’s $100 – 150 million raise last week, L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez stunned both activists as well as the LAPD police union and its supporters with a statement accompanying the motion which can read like a page out of Michelle Alexander’s famous magnum opus from 2010:
We need a vision for our city that says ‘there is going to be justice.’ American society is founded on a racial hierarchy, one that is born out of slavery followed by Jim Crow segregation and corporate abuse of labor. As such, police departments are asked to enforce a system of laws that are designed to reinforce and maintain economic and racial inequality.”– Nury Martinez, L.A. City Council, June 3rd, 2019
One can thank the activists, including Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles, as well as the People’s Budget for Los Angeles, for stirring the L.A. City Council out of slumbering obsequiousness or deference to the police union’s raises amid the threat of COVID-19, even if we forget for a moment that Mayor Garcetti’s added $150 million for LAPD was agreed to before the coronavirus slammed the brakes on the economy.
Coronavirus or not, and the police raises aside, the $1.7 billion of taxpayer dollars that LAPD was set to receive while Housing & Community Investment were to get less than 4.8% of that sum, was all any resident of Los Angeles needed to know to be concerned. But if not for the BLM movement’s years of work in relative silence, or years of activism in what might be said to be a vacuum, L.A. would be in a completely different political environment right now, one far less equipped to deal with our representatives accordingly.
Shortly after Ms. Martinez’s motion, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, or L.A.’s police union, released a blistering statement in retaliation:
“Los Angeles Council President Nury Martinez has failed the true test of leadership; the ability to bring Angelenos together to problem solve and heal after the tragic killing of George Floyd. Rather than creating a space to come together and have the necessary and difficult dialogue on how best to move our city and nation forward, all we got was a Tweet aimed at creating a deeper division between our police officers and the community we serve. To declare that the work police officers perform, that we’ve been directed to do, is designed to harm people of color while Ms. Martinez repeatedly sends us into harm’s way is divisive, disrespectful, and certainly is no profile in courage.”
The police union’s statement is a text-book case of the lengths that powerful interests go to in order to maintain control, even as they lose control. Be honest with yourself: In what fundamental way is the statement different from a press release out of the Trump White House?
The statement attacks personal character, claims the union has been “disrespected,” and implies that police bear all the weight of “the real work” while Ms. Martinez “tweets.” Perhaps most importantly, the statement doesn’t even try explaining its argument that the LAPD losing its raise “creates division” between police and the communities it’s supposed to serve. Newsflash: police violence and incarceration are what create division. Since 2013 alone, the LAPD has shot and killed more than 600 civilians in Los Angeles, overwhelmingly unarmed Black and Latino males.
Moreover, instead of the police union accounting for its role in jailing, fining, and fatally shooting predominantly Black & Latino bodies in Los Angeles, or releasing a statement accepting those extra $150 million going towards other city services right now, or offering to work with activists to end all police violence against citizens, the union simply defends itself. It laments over a salary issue. Never-mind the scores of protesters the LAPD injured during their peaceful protests this past summer, and never-mind 600 fatal shootings since 2013.
Those hundreds of millions of dollars, though.‘
Towards the end of the union’s statement, there’s even a veiled threat to answer the phone “a little late” next time Council Member Martinez calls their number.
This only makes more sense when readers consider that the Los Angeles Police Protective League Political Action Committee (PAC) has donated finances to Nury Martinez’s tenure at L.A. City Hall since at least 2013, according to the L.A. Ethics Commission website, not to mention virtually every other City Council member, too. Remember: the Center for Responsive Politics defines a PAC as “a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates.” Clearly, the “investments” the police union made in Ms. Martinez’s campaigns was not working out according to their plan.
In any case, at the L.A. City Hall Budget & Finance committee this Monday, activists learned that the motion regarding the police raises–which was originally set to be approved or disapproved by the committee this week–would have its meeting postponed to the following week on June 15th, 2020 in order for the council to “hear from more stakeholders,” as in, apart from the tens of thousands of marchers standing outside city hall over the last few weeks.
But what the postponement did make clear was that after two weeks of protest against the police state all across Los Angeles, the council did, in fact, hear the demands far more clearly than it has in some time.
If you’re in East Hollywood, Los Angeles, which is known at L.A. City Hall as the 13th district, here’s the contact information for Mitch O’Farrell’s office, your City Council representative, to facilitate some of that additional feedback from stakeholders:
DISTRICT 13 — MITCH O’FARRELL:
City Hall: (213) 473-7013
District Office: (213) 207-3015
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