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Mayoral Candidates Vowing to Renew War on Our People


by Los Angeles Community Action Network and Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

Mayoral candidates are starting to trot out their “public safety” proposals. While some of the rhetoric and outward dressing varies, the substance across the board all appears to be the same: vows to increase police hiring and spending at the expense of the investments that actually address the roots of harm and keep our communities safe. 

This is the political playbook that produced the 1994 Crime Bill, mass incarceration, and the War on Drugs. At the same time our communities are fighting to rebuild from those catastrophes, mayoral frontrunners ranging from Joe Buscaino to Kevin de Leon to Mike Feuer to Karen Bass appear united in a commitment to resurrecting those harms. It’s unclear who they’re catering to other than the white landowners and real estate developers who are funding recall campaigns, gentrifying our communities, and promoting war on our unhoused neighbors. 

Each of the proposals recycle the “tough on crime” playbook that politicians have used to crush our fight for liberation over the years. As we saw with the disastrous 1994 Crime Bill, politicians keep using rhetoric about “community policing” to flood our neighborhoods with surveillance and punishment. The 1994 bill funded the hiring of tens of thousands of local police, including several hundred million for LAPD to expand hiring over the years. 

When we see this rhetoric, we know from history that our communities are in danger. The nitty gritty of the plans only confirms this. For example Bass’s plan calls for expanding LAPD’s Community Safety Partnerships program, referencing a sham study that Joe Buscaino was on the advisory board of and that Rick Caruso along with other real estate developers funded. Buscaino responded to the George Floyd protests by also calling to expand the CSP program. Bass doubles down on that demand. Feuer is speaking the same language too, paying lip service to the need for social services within loud calls to increase LAPD’s budget and expand the police force.

While some Black politicians and civil rights nonprofits previously supported the fear-mongering that expanded criminalization of our people, this time our communities are committed to resisting this violence. We will not stand silent as politicians hijack our people’s demands for genuine public safety to once again militarize our neighborhoods, assault our families, and steal our lives. Some candidates have acknowledged the need for investment in housing, supportive services for those piecing their lives back together after criminalization, and treatment services for people with mental health conditions. Policing cannot deliver any of that, yet it’s what politicians keep promoting. Every dollar spent on LAPD is money diverted from housing, health care, reentry support, and other investments that actually keep our communities safe and strong. 

None of the mayoral frontrunners have demonstrated meaningful commitment to ending police violence and the criminalization of poverty. LAPD killings more than doubled from 2020 to 2021, an astonishing increase from the most murderous police force in the country. At best these “public safety” proposals gesture toward “police accountability” as an afterthought, and at worst these politicians are offering a rehash of the same shams and failures that police reformers have peddled for decades as cover to secure more resources for police. 

These plans commit the city to economic disaster. Mayor Garcetti gave half the city’s discretionary spending to LAPD, whose operational budget will have increased 52% over the past decade if their current budget proposal goes through. The candidates to replace Garcetti seem to be in lock step with his approach. We can’t invest in the city’s future by committing to more unsustainable hiring sprees, whether that’s Bass’s call for 9,700 cops, Feuer’s call for 10,000, or Buscaino’s 11,000.

Contrary to what these politicians want us to think, demands to divert LAPD funding are extremely popular. A Loyola Marymount study in 2020 showed that over 62.4% of Angelenos support proposals to “redirect some money currently going to the police budget to local programs,” and 36.7% support proposals to “completely dismantle police departments.” These demands are even more popular in the communities that suffer the most from police draining all of the city’s resources: 73.9% of Black adults in Los Angeles support calls to redirect police funding. 

Without a commitment to diverting police funding, none of what these politicians are peddling are plans for improving public safety. They’re plans for pandering to the police.