Meeting Report-Back: Community Addresses ACLU/LAPD Relationship
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition General Meeting on Tuesday May 19, hosted at the UCLA Labor Center, was filled with deep emotions and concerns, questions, wisdom, and demands shared by over 50 coalition members and community representation from a variety of interconnected causes throughout Los Angeles. The publicly facilitated dialogue was prompted by the coalition’s exposure of documents acquired through a California Public Records Act Request that demonstrate a clear collaboration and collusion between ACLU senior Attorney Peter Bibring and LAPD Chief of Counter-Terrorism Mike Downing on a “Model Surveillance Ordinance” that further impacts and sells out communities across LA and beyond.
In show of utter disregard and failure to acknowledge community concerns, ACLU Executive Director Hector Villagra not only failed to attend the meeting but failed to even acknowledge and respond to the coalition’s invitation directly sent to him. ACLU staffs’ response during the community meeting was to deny, dismiss, and to mock public concern declaring the entire meeting unproductive. ACLU did not offer any genuine responses to the community concerns which ranged from: ACLU’s process in representing the community; issues surrounding white privilege; issues surrounding collusion, collaboration, communication; and many more questions and comments directly related to movement building and actions that have deep and long term impact upon the health and well being of our communities, including: Who is ACLU accountable to? What is the role of elitist organizations? How does ACLU define community? Instead, ACLU lectured the community as to how dare the community question ACLU’s motive–calling the Coalition’s release of these emails disingenuous, calling this process of public dialogue waste of time, and denying that they sought LAPD’s help in crafting their Model Surveillance Ordinance–a fact clearly stated in the emails the Coalition became aware of and made public.
Despite this, community members denounced ACLU’s Model Ordinance as tainted and corrupt. After so much negative feedback, ACLU Policy and Advocacy Counsel – Jessica Farris, publicly made it clear that ACLU’s Model Surveillance Ordinance is stopped and not moving forward in Los Angeles. This is what the community will hold the ACLU accountable to! That said, ACLU senior Attorney Peter Bibring went to a Stop LAPD Spying Coordinating team member after the meeting to “clarify” that the ordinance was only “on hold” for now. ACLU is clearly speaking for both ends of its mouth publicly deceiving and misleading the community.
The goal of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition is to create spaces for public dialogue, and collective examination and scrutiny when issues such as ACLU’s collusion with the very agencies we are fighting to dismantle are exposed. For too long people and organizations have colluded with individuals in power resulting in dire consequences on our communities. Its up to us, the people and those most impacted in our communities to expose such actions and hold these influential, “powerful” and elitist organizations accountable publicly. Now the onus is upon the ACLU leadership including the Executive Director Hector Villagra to make amends publicly.
Human Relations Commission to Hold Special Board Meeting on Racial Profiling and Use of Force
Join the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition on Wednesday, June 3rd from 5:30pm to 7:45pm at the Constituent Service Center at 8475 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles 90044. The LA City Human Relations Commission (HRC) will be hosting the first of two Special Board Meetings regarding the impact of Community Policing. This first Board Meeting will explore the issues of racial profiling and use of force. Check out the FB Event Page!
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.
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, which led the effort in advocating for these public hearings, looks forward to ensuring these meetings create space for substantive and meaningful community participation. It is important for our communities to engage in these processes and ensure full transparency in policies that affect their health and well being.
Use the following on Twitter to generate conversation:
#CityHRCTalks and Tweet @LACityHRC