LA Police Commission – An Affront to the Principles of Democracy

Click HERE to download a PDF of the letter.

October 12, 2016

Dear Mr. Tefank and Mr. Johnson,

On Tuesday, October 11, 2016, an overflow crowd of nearly 100 members of the public attempted to participate in the public meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission.  Approximately 50 civically-engaged residents were allowed admission into the meeting.  In an affront to the principles of democracy, Board President Matthew Johnson chose to adjourn the meeting to closed session as a response to community dissent.  Once the meeting reconvened following closed session, members of the public were not allowed to return to the meeting.  A single member of the public, Mr. Tut Hayes, remained in the Board room and refused to leave, even under threat of arrest.  Because the public was not allowed to return to the meeting, there was almost no public comment offered on the agenda items, including:

2A – COMMISSION PRESIDENT’S REPORT, dated October 4, 2016, relative to Commission Liaison and Assignments, as set forth.

2B – INSPECTOR GENERAL’S VERBAL REPORT AND DISCUSSION relative to the investigative oversight of the Department’s Non-Categorical Use of Force Investigations and possible Board action.

2C – INSPECTOR GENERAL’S REPORT dated October 6, 2016, relative to the Comparative Review of Selected Agency Policies, Investigations, and Training on the Use of Force: OIG Final Report.

2E – DEPARTMENT’S VERBAL REPORT AND DISCUSSION relative to the interaction with Los Angeles Unified School District in gang prevention education.

3 – REPORT OF THE CHIEF OF POLICE

This letter should serve as a formal complaint as well as a request for regular agenda items 2A, 2B, 2C and 2E to be added to the agenda of the next meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners so that public comments can be recorded on those items.

Each week the Board of Police Commissioners meetings continues to limit and/or silence the voice of the people who it is supposed to represent.  If the public is not being arrested or ejected for speaking off topic or past their allotted time, they are not being allowed to speak at all (as was the case with this week’s meeting).  Open and accountable government is a hallmark of democracy. Retreating to closed session and then barring the public (especially those who are viewed as having dissenting opinions) from returning to the “public” portion of the meeting is unacceptable, violates the Brown Act and is quite possibly against the law.  In the strongest possible terms, we urge the Board to abide by open meeting guidelines that encourage, rather than repress, public participation.

Sincerely,

Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles
Los Angeles Community Action Network
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition
White People for Black Lives
Youth Justice Coalition

Cc: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles Council President Herb Wesson
Board of Police Commissioners