Yesterday after a day long process of dozens of public comments and an almost 4 hour “closed door” session, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners (LAPC) announced that of the 2 LAPD officers – Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas involved in the murder of Ezell Ford, one officer acted out of policy for initially making contact all the way to use of deadly force. The second officer’s conduct was declared out of policy only in pulling the gun on Ezell Ford but was declared justified in using the gun – whatever that means. The LA Police Commission sent their decision back to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck who would decide what actions to take against the officers based on the Commission’s decision.
While being hailed as a “victory” for the people by some, the LA Police Commission has been complicit in approving policies and programs that ultimately lead to state sanctioned murders by LAPD. Programs such as Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative give LAPD cops and hundreds of thousands of cops around the country the extra judicial powers to stop and question people without any criminal predicate or cause but merely on speculation and hunch based on the cop’s “observation” that someone’s perfectly legal and constitutionally protected behavior could “reasonably indicate” that the person is engaging in “pre-operational planning of criminal and/or terrorist activity.” SAR is one of the many programs since 9/11 initiated for national security and counter-terrorism purposes but have now been fully incorporated into everyday policing. In January 2015, LAPD’s Inspector General released an audit of the SAR program. The audit revealed intense racial profiling of LA’s Black Community showing that over 30% of Suspicious Activity Reports were opened on African-Americans. This in a city with less than 10% of the population is African-American – that is a 3 to 1 impact. Additionally, within the gender section 50% of SARs were on Black women.
LAPD operates as a hyper-militarized surveillance driven counter-insurgency force. A department with a huge PR campaign spreading the propaganda of “Community Policing” which in reality hides LAPD’s tactics and operations for policing the Community. How many more Ezells have to die before we realize that LAPD has the power to create artificial contact based on pure speculation and hunch with the potential of lethal use of force that is then considered justifiable homicide? We hold the LA Police Commission equally complicit and responsible for Ezell Ford’s murder.
Don’t let them get away with it. Join the Fight!