The LACC community must now reclaim its campus from the L.A. County sheriff’s department

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 97)

Andrés Guardado’s and Terron Jammal Boone’s deaths at the hands of L.A. County sheriff officers in Los Angeles this past week cannot go in vain: they serve as crucial reminders that the people of Los Angeles can settle for nothing less than reclaiming their spaces from the police state before police cause more harm.

Even at this time of heightened tensions between communities of color and law enforcement across America, the L.A. County Sheriff’s department has shown no willingness to ban or even begin discussing a ban of its fatal policies against Black & Brown civilians, even after killing two Black & Brown men within just days of each other during the week of June 14th. At a meeting at L.A. City Hall this past Monday, June 22nd, L.A. City Council Member Curren Price said of Andrés Guardado’s death:

“He was shot by a sheriff deputy, but as far as the community’s concerned, he was shot by police, by law enforcement…That tragic death just underscores the conversation that’s happening all over this country.”

In East Hollywood, since March 16th of this year, sheriff deputies have guarded more than 1.5 million square feet of LACC’s campus, making it completely inaccessible for thousands of nearby students, workers, and other community members, the vast majority of whom are people of color and immigrants, but who also count African-American, disabled, elderly folks, and trans people within the community.

Signs posted around the campus state that authorized persons must “check-in” with the L.A. County sheriffs to be allowed on campus, but how can that procedure possibly feel safe for Black & Brown people?

At first, the campus’s closing-off was admittedly in line with the uniform policy across L.A. County, under the notion that it was a precautionary measure against COVID-19 infection. More than three months later, however, when much of the city is “reopening” due to data suggesting we may now be getting ahead of the virus–at least, according to our public officials–the LACC campus continues idling by aimlessly, with sheriff SUVs and other vehicles guarding off the entrance. It does not feel safe for Black & Brown people, but is probably the most dangerous to the scores of unhoused residents who set up their tents around the area.

Only a few weeks ago, I recall passing by the campus while an African-American woman sat on the curb on Heliotrope drive, perhaps resting from a jog or workout, only to have two sheriff officers call out to her from behind the fences separating the campus from the sidewalk, presumably to make sure she wasn’t “posing a threat.” It shouldn’t need to be stated that if not for one or two slight gestures, she could have been moments away from being shot, but time after time we forget this is exactly how it happens across America. Moreover, I’m confident that several more of these types of instances have taken place around the campus grounds, but that they’ve gone mostly unreported since Black, Brown, and other working-class communities have simply come to view such harassment as typical of police officers.

Instead of having armed law enforcement encroaching upon unarmed citizens who actually reside in the community, however, LACC’s 1.5 million square footage should now be making space accessible to these groups.

For one, the campus can be used as a testing site for COVID-19, or as a location for limited exercising, as is the case at Dodger stadium and Elysian Park in Angeleno Heights. For another, LACC’s benches should be made accessible once again for pedestrians looking to take refuge from the exhausting rush of car traffic along Vermont avenue, just as its green spaces should be made accessible again for picnicking or meditation. There is also much that can be done with the campus’s air conditioning in order to help the community cool off with the onset of summer. One way or another, it’s time to innovate. But whatever alternative use for campus instead of clustering large groups of people, this I’m certain of:

The L.A. County Sheriff’s department has no grounds to be left as overseers of the college. It belongs most of all to students, student workers, and the various other community members in the vicinity. They form the community in the “community college.”

If any of this sounds extraordinary, remember that even the Los Angeles Public Library community has taken its own LAPL Board of Commissioners to task, calling for the board to divest in police at our public libraries, since police only serve to intimidate and incarcerate our city’s most vulnerable populations there; they also intimidate Black & Brown library workers into “walking a fine line” for fear that they may be confused as a threat by police officers. Only in America.

It’s therefore time for members of the Los Angeles City College community to call for the reopening of our campus, hand-in-hand with the dismissal of armed law enforcement for the benefit of our community and to prevent any more unnecessary bloodshed and loss of life for our families. If the weeks since the unrest in Minneapolis have shown anything, it’s that after marching, there is organizing, making our voices heard, and standing resolutely in our pursuit of a safer world for our being. We deserve it.

J.T.

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JIMBO TIMES Salutes LACCD Students Going Back To School This Week

Notwithstanding this most difficult time in our country and around the world, I’ve been fortunate to not only be able to continue with the favorite pastime of my blog, but to do more with it than ever before. When I think about others like myself who are also finding their way through these times, I am grateful for one pillar of support nearby: the community college.

This week, community college students in L.A. were called back to classes–through distance learning–by their chancellors, presidents and counselors. JIMBO TIMES salutes this return to learning, and wants to encourage all students to give this Spring 2020 semester more than a shot, but every effort they’ve got in their queue.

For me personally, it was at community college where, more than anything, I gave myself an opportunity to pursue my skills and interests in writing and storytelling at precisely the time when a world of professionals were ready to support me in that pursuit. They were the professionals daily present at my CC.

Over ten years since I enrolled in my first ever college class at ‘CC’, I now use the voice I learned to harness there daily as a young professional for people in my community all across Los Angeles.

Now, I know this: going to community college is about more than educating yourself. It’s about preparing to serve the needs of your community for the next ten years. And if there’s one thing this public health crisis makes certain, it’s that the next ten years in L.A. will absolutely need professionals from its communities to step up.

To every student (and professor and counselor and president and staff) this week and in the weeks ahead who choose to continue their work for our communities’ education despite these most recent challenges for our communities: you are taking more than one step for yourselves, you are taking a great leap for learners everywhere for generations to come.

It’s an investment of leaps and bounds. Let’s make every second count!

J.T.

Picking Life Back up in East Hollywood, Rising Once Again

KL for Who Is Your Neighborhood, LACC; October 12, 2019

Arriving to the Los Angeles City College campus this past weekend was no simple task after a range of emotions in the wake of another tragic loss for the Virgil Village community, this one even closer to home.

But as our communities have done for generations atop the barren concrete of Los Angeles, we pulled our spirits up from within to will one foot in front of the other, and to travail through just enough distance to reach the college’s brilliant quad.

What we saw then was nothing less than reaffirming of this mission. Underneath a quilt of loving daylight the quad bustled with life, filled by people from all over Los Angeles and throughout the world who like us, were also seeking to make the most of their time in the environment around them as they made their way to our table, and to the next, and on, it all rushed back into clarity again:

Despite a world that will continue turning with or without our efforts, we’ve got to continue pushing for stronger communities in our neighborhood, for better youth and education programs here, for holistic support of the most vulnerable among us instead of their out-casting, and more. Because the future yearns for it. Because we want that future. And because we know we deserve the opportunity to create it for ourselves as much as anyone else.

J.T.

EPISODE 6 – LIVE FROM LACC RESOURCE FAIR, OCTOBER 12

In this special broadcast rich with sounds from LACC’s Resource Fair, Kevin Lopez joins us for a brief reflection on the day’s turnout, our takeaways, and what our organization may just be on the precipice of with our continued ‘stand’ as community advocates in the neighborhood.

J.T.

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