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The Whittier Police Killing: Criticizing Reforms as the Cause of Violence

Every time someone loses their life in the ongoing struggle for real public safety it’s a tragedy. Period. After the shooting in Whittier yesterday, it’s really important that we hold that truth while keeping in mind what we know.

At the press conference Whittier Police Chief Piper made an important point. It is true that laws, propositions, and other reforms are being passed at the ballot box overwhelmingly by the people of California, including Black and Brown folks who want something different than laws that have used prisons and jails to tear our families apart for decades. In the case of AB 109, the bill was signed into effect by the governor. It is also true that in moments like these it is very easy to criticize reforms as the cause of the violence. That is also harmful. Reforms like AB 109 have the real potential to reduce harm in our communities by lowering recidivism, however, they are not being implemented with that goal in mind. In fact, just the opposite is happening.

What we know is that the purpose of AB 109 was not only to fix a deplorably overcrowded prison system in California, but to ensure that our loved ones who are coming out of the system never return.

What we know is that if you’re going to stop “the revolving door” of incarceration, you won’t get there by investing in the people who operate the door.

What we know is that Assembly Bill 109 was designed to give hundreds of millions of dollars a year to reentry services including substance abuse, mental health services, and housing to reduce recidivism. However, of the $1.4 billion that Los Angeles County has received in AB 109 funding, 76% of it has gone to the sheriff’s department and to probation. Reentry service providers, community based treatment programs, housing, job training, and many other vital services that have been proven to reduce recidivism have been de-prioritized.

What we know is that our folks who have lived inside the Los Angeles County jail system are experts and leaders in the Reimagine 109 campaign calling for LA County to put at least 50% of AB 109 funds where they belong. This includes in the hands of formerly incarcerated Black and Brown leaders who are running real programs and have concrete proposals for how to reduce harm in our communities. None of those needs include pouring over a billion dollars into law enforcement.

In this moment it easy to criticize reforms that are being set up to fail. What we know though is that if we are going to achieve real public safety for our communities, we’re going to have to fight for every single dollar to make it happen.

Trump Meeting With Sheriffs: Reactions From People That Take Action

On Tuesday, mere weeks after changing the White House website to include “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community,” Trump met with the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Next to dramatically lying about the U.S. murder rate and threatening to destroy a Texas senator in the conversation of almost entirely old white men, he also openly supported asset forfeiture, garnered more publicity for the building of his wall, said that the pipeline protests are unfair to companies, and continued to demonize our immigrant community. Read the meeting transcript here.

Here are our team’s initial reactions:

What’s clear here is that the President’s ‘law and order’ vision is one where sheriffs can abuse asset forfeiture to steal millions of dollars form our communities while ignoring the crisis of using jails to warehouse our loved ones suffering from mental health disabilities. That’s not our vision and we won’t have it.
– Mark-Anthony Johnson

I am sick! This is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets A Clockwork Orange splashed with Trainspotting. These people are sickos!
– Martha Camacho-Rodriguez

I don’t let Donald move me like that. His actions don’t move me in a way I see them moving others. If I let them get to me that’s just further abuse from the state – and I’ve been through enough of that.
– Jayda Rasberry

Portrait of a madman unraveling right before our American eyes. Photograph moments of a diminishing mental capacity, a decent into the white abyss…
– Michele Ynfante

Trump is consistent with proving he do not have leadership abilities, which is an God given talent. No way a good leader would have come into office and picked sides, against the people, whose children have been murdered by police across this land.
– James Nelson

The law and order rhetoric Trump has been spewing throughout his campaign is coming to life and is intended to have dire consequences on the Black and Brown community. The initial reaction from our team is merely a precursor for the actions we will take to resist his alarming incarceration-obsessed administration. If we uplift the voice of every formerly incarcerated person we will surely drown out conversations like these!

TAKE ACTION with us by attending this weekend’s Outreach & Healing Space outside of CRDF in Lynwood or by attending the next Civilian Oversight Commission meeting.

Let Sheriff McDonnell know that the community will not tolerate his alliance with the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Trump administration!

Unplug, Breathe, and Plug-In

Here at DPN we have been busy organizing ourselves to respond to all that is happening in our own families, communities, and world. I’d like to share with you a few things you can to do to dig deeper into your paths as movement makers and creators.

1. Unplug

It is too easy to keep our eyes on bright screens right now. So many of us are worried about our lives, our partners, families, neighbors. Unplug from the screen to make moments for yourself, to connect with your loved ones in person if possible, and reconnect to your higher being and mother nature.

2. Take Deeper Breaths

Breath is your own personal refresh button. Refresh, refresh, refresh, restart. Every moment is an opportunity to connect with yourself and what most matters to you. If breath is hard to find these days, remember that you have tools that can help you. Crystals, sage, incense, flowers, and other plants are all waiting for you to help you breathe deeper into your self and your truth.

3. Plug-in to Meaningful Movement Work!

Listen to your heart, your gut instinct. What is it saying you want to fight for, or fight louder for? Choose your issue, look for organizations and groups doing the frontline work and get involved. Unplugging and breathing can help connect you to the work that has been waiting for you to pick up! Now more than ever we need folks on all the front lines. Front lines are at home, in our neighborhood, our city, county, country, and beyond!

Sending prayers of light, love, and deep joy from the DPN office.
Come by or call if you need support or wish to get involved!

Civilian Oversight Commissioners Announced! (Where’s Patrisse?)

On November 1st the Los Angeles County Supervisors officially announced the nine people who will be serving on the Civilian Oversight Commission.

Appointed individually by Solis, Ridley-Thomas, Kuehl, Knabe, and Antonovich, in that order:

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Hernan Vera

Attorney
Former President and CEO of Public Counsel
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Xavier Thompson

President of Baptist Ministers’ Conference
Senior Pastor of the Southern Saint Paul Church

Patti Giggans

Executive Director of Peace Over Violence

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JP Harris

Former LA Sheriff’s Lieutenant
Board Member and Former President of ALADS

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Robert C. Bonner

Attorney
Former DEA Administrator

Appointed by the Board of Supervisors from the community applications:

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Sean Kennedy

Executive Director of Center for Juvenile Law & Policy at Loyola Law School
Former Federal Public Defender
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Heather Miller

***C2ESV NOMINEE***
Rabbi at Beth Chayim Chadashim

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Priscilla Ocen

***C2ESV NOMINEE***
Loyola Law School Associate Professor

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Lael Rubin

Former Deputy District Attorney
DPN and the C2ESV implemented and shaped much of the commission through our 2014 report “A Civilian Review Board for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department” and our persistent campaigning and organizing efforts that spanned 3 years. Even though the county’s commission on jail violence rejected the idea of civilian oversight, we took on this fight to end state violence in the county jails and in our neighborhoods. After being invited to speak at a press conference held by the county supervisors, we decided to both claim our victory and pose important criticisms of the process. Check out the footage on Patrisse Cullors’ live Facebook video:

 

Patrisse Cullors, DPN’s founder and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, was instrumental in making the commission. She brought the idea to the table and organized local communities to demand it. And although she was nominated by us and made it to the final round of the interview process, the supervisors said her affiliation to BLM was a conflict of interest. However, they did not think that Robert C. Bonner being former administrator of the DEA and commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection was a conflict of interest. And even more shockingly, they didn’t think that JP Harris being a former sheriff’s department lieutenant for the very department this commission is overseeing was a conflict of interest.

Moving forward there is much to be done to ensure that this commission is effective and we are confident in the presence and fortitude of our C2ESV nominees who have been appointed. Stay tuned for more in depth profiles on all of the commissioners. In the meantime we will continue to be vigilant in pushing for subpoena power and to ensure that each commissioner is holding the LASD accountable and serving the people most affected by sheriff violence.