(ANTIMEDIA) Los Angleles, CA — Last Wednesday, the city decided to hold another meaningless meeting. It was intended to allow community members upset with police violence against minorities a chance to vent,once again, to deaf ears. The Human Relations Commission hosted the first of two special board meetings regarding the impact of community policing.
This first board meeting explored the issues of racial profiling and uses of force. After an hour and a half of venting to the reluctant panel, a young man named Evan went up to the podium to speak. He was upset at the division the podium created in the room and the physical separation between those speaking and those who were supposedly there to listen. He told the crowd to move the podium that separated the two groups.
The commissioners, who were supposedly there to hear the people, became upset. Most of them left the room, unwilling to hear the people in the manner they wanted to be heard. The meeting continued without most of them. Two members of the commission stayed as the community formed a circle, creating a horizontal space where no person was elevated or in a physical position of authority. The dialogue continued productively and without authoritarian control. Someone said they overheard one of the commission members in the hallway say, “They ruined a good thing.” From the perspective of the people speaking in front of the commission, what they actually did was make a useless thing constructive by taking back their power and demanding that they be heard in the way they wanted to be heard.
The Youth Justice Coalition and the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition are both groups that have played an active and vocal role in holding the LAPD accountable for its violent and invasive actions. On their event invitation page, Stop LAPD Spying had the following to say about the meeting last night:
“Starting in April of 2013 the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition led the effort demanding that the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission (HRC) hold special public hearings on Los Angeles Police Department’s Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) program. On October 10, 2013 the HRC passed a motion stating “public forum(s) or hearing(s) be hosted solely by the HRC in the community on the issue of profiling to be inclusive of gang injunctions, SAR and other related public safety issues….
Sixteen months after the passage of the original motion and persistent advocacy by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition to move forward with official community hearings on LAPD’s policies and practices, in February 2015 the HRC Board decided to act on these critical issues by hosting a series of events, including 3 Special Board Meetings and 7-8 focus groups on the issues of Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative, Racial Profiling, Gang Injunctions, and Excessive use of force.
Since the passage of the original motion in October 2013, racial profiling and the murder of people of color, especially Black individuals, by law enforcement continue to fester in our communities and nationwide. Tragically, the world witnessed the murders of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Ezell Ford, further highlighting the need for public hearings and other formal spaces for critical examination of public safety issues.
“The forthcoming HRC hearings will shed light on some of the LAPD policies that promote racial profiling yet remain invisible in the larger public domain. This is the community’s chance to provide valuable input about the dangers and impact of policing policies and practices, and the dire need for transparency and deep institutional and structural changes in how LAPD operates. It is important for our communities to engage in these processes and ensure full transparency in policies that affect their health and well being.”
Here, you can see how community members organized the meeting in a way that made them feel more comfortable. It’s hard to see why those in supposed “authority” were afraid of this:
The mother of Ezell Ford, who was killed by the LAPD two days before Mike Brown was killed last August, spoke about her frustration with the LAPD’s lack of transparency.