Two weeks ago tomorrow, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition launched watchthewatchers.net, a community resource that indexes LAPD’s official records of its officers, all of which LAPD made public through California Public Records Act requests.
In the days after we launched this resource, LAPD and the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the private association that lobbies on behalf of police officers, the Board of Police Commissioners, District Attorney George Gascon, and Mayor Karen Bass have united in deliberately spreading false information about the website’s origins and purpose.
The fabrication of this “scandal” originated from Chief Moore, who immediately went on television to misrepresent the process of obtaining and publishing these records. The Board of Police Commissioners followed suit, with Commission President William Briggs – an entertainment lawyer appointed by Eric Garcetti – characterizing the official records indexed on Watch the Watchers as “private data,” calling on LAPD to violate public records laws, and making veiled threats against the community members who created it.
What is the real core of this “scandal”? It’s disagreement between LAPPL and city officials about what the term “undercover” means. That’s basically it. But public officials are exploiting that dispute to demonize and silence the communities who criticize them. This is a deliberate attempt to gin up a scandal in order to repress dissent about the expansion of the police state.
Let’s be clear about the stakes here: graver police secrecy and graver police violence.
Police and their political lapdogs are eager to weaken the minimal transparency provided by the California Public Records Act, a law enacted in 1968 during the heyday of the civil rights movement. LAPD is attempting to end public access to information about their department, and city leaders are aiding them in this effort. They want policing to be shrouded in secrecy.
Also at stake here is our lives. The more police hear political leaders like Mayor Bass proclaim that their lives are endangered by something as simple as transparency of government, they are giving police even more of a green light to treat every person around them as a threat. Black and Brown communities consistently bear the brunt of police violence. Political leaders are putting a target on our back.
That’s what Watch the Watchers is revealing, in addition to public records: the desperation to crush our resistance. Police know that we threaten their political power and their grip on public resources. We are resisting their ability to continue doling out violence with reckless abandon. Join the fight!