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Stories, Solutions and Movement Building Were Key Themes at the January 19th Community Townhall

Audio from January 19 StopLAPDSpying Community Townhall 
With almost 150 diverse community members present, several participants commented that the January 19th Townhall was informative, educational, and empowering.

The townhall affirmed the pervasive and rapidly expanding spying and surveillance apparatus:

  • impacts everyone and not just one community or another;
  • continues the national security rhetoric, which needs to be debunked;
  • criminalizes dissent, which must be exposed and challenged;
  • is a waste of precious public resources;
  • increases racial profiling and targeting of undocumented immigrants, youth, LGBTQ communities, and other communities of color.

Community members shared stories about being detained and questioned by LAPD for simply taking photographs, highlighting the insidious nature of Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) policies leading to harassment and disruption of lives and potentially being placed in LAPD’s Special Order 1 data base. One community member shared her story of stalking, surveillance and being followed by Torrance PD in retaliation to her filing a report about sexual assault by a Torrance PD officer.

Several suggestions and solutions were offered including:

  • educate our communities on new surveillance technologies and monitor their use;
  • mainstream conversations on police surveillance and spying as part of LA’s conversation;
  • raise awareness that this is just not a phenomenon of the past, but a constant threat to our human rights, privacy and civil liberties;
  • monitor and watch the watchers – be prepared for infiltration;
  • train to record videos, take pictures and post and share immediately;
  • organize to dismantle injustices and not “reform” them;
  • develop and implement a strategic outreach plan;
  • continue with the intersectional coalition building;
  • demand an elected civilian review board over LAPD.

Upcoming Action: The LAPD Inspector General is expected to release his audit of LAPD SO 1 at the Police Commission meeting on the 1st (5th Feb) or 2nd (12th Feb) Tuesday of February. The coalition will be releasing its “Peoples’ Audit” at the same time. Please mark the days for a potential Call to Action. The LAPD commission meeting agenda is posted on the Friday prior to the meeting.

The townhall set the stage for the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition’s next phase of grass root organizing, community outreach and education, and advocacy. Thanks to efforts of many who’ve been on the frontlines and in the background helping the coalition build the groundswell to fight back.