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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.

Through and To the Criminal Judicial System

My personal experience brought me through and to the criminal judicial system. I was found guilty at trial for something that I did not do and was sentenced to one year in county jail. While incarcerated for 6 months in 2011 at the Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF), I was sexually abused by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies and by medical staff.

When I filed complaints in my first month at CRDF they all fell on deaf ears.

This experience brought me to my role as a Dignity and Power Now campaign lead for support of a Civilian Oversight Commission over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

As campaign lead I researched for one year civilian oversight commissions and review boards all across the US, Canada, and Europe. My research included budgets, size of police and sheriff’s departments, salaries, staffing, litigation costs, subpoena power, how many commission members, policy, and protocol. I consistently brought forth pertinent information to share with the working group members like what was working for oversight/review boards across the US and what is necessary for future effective civilian oversight commissions.

My research was to sharpen our knowledge of our 5 non-negotiable demands. Subpoena power, no former or current law enforcement, direct the work of the Office of Inspector General, a nine seat panel, and independent counsel. After one year here is what we won: 1. no current law enforcement, 2. nine seat member commission. Now we are in a fight for the Civilian Oversight Commission to obtain subpoena power by changing County Charter.

The purpose of subpoena power is to have access to police personnel files for more transparency and accountability within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during investigations regarding police misconduct and excessive use of force. Without subpoena power we simply have an incomplete investigation.

This type of thorough investigation would have helped my personal experience at Century Regional Detention Facility. A civilian oversight commission with subpoena power increases transparency and accountability within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during police misconduct investigations.

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My personal experience with advocacy is hands-on education and learning with the American Civil Liberties Union in April 2016. I went to the capital in Sacramento and learned how to lobby senators, assemblymen, and assemblywomen with an ACLU constitutional attorney in support of SB-1286. SB-1286 (or the Police Officer Misconduct Bill) is a bill that would grant subpoena power to all civilian oversight/review boards in the state of California. Although currently waiting to be brought up again in the next bill cycle, SB-1286 is another viable route to make sure Los Angeles County’s Civilian Oversight Commission has the power it needs to be effective.

Stay tuned to our blog or subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with my work as civilian oversight campaign lead and the fight to change County Charter and pass SB-1286!

Civilian Oversight Nominees

For over three years our Coalition to End Sheriff Violence has fought for civilian oversight of the sheriff’s department. While we won civilian oversight, the fight for it to be effective and have power is not over. Across Los Angeles Black and Brown communities have voiced strong opposition to the supervisors’ decision to allow former law enforcement to sit on the commission. The Coalition to End Sheriff Violence stands with incarcerated people and their loved ones as we launch our slate of highly qualified nominees who have been active participants in the movement to end civil and human rights violations inside the county jail system. Check them out below!

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AKILI

45 years experience as a community and labor organizer, Akili has dedicated his work to building a just and equitable society for marginalized people, including the successful campaign to change the Los Angeles Police Department’s use of force practices in the wake the 2005 shooting of Devon Brown.

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Patrisse Cullors

Founder of Dignity and Power Now and Co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter National Network, Patrisse has long history of building mass movements and leading successful campaigns that prioritize the leadership of communities directly impacted by law enforcement violence and mass incarceration.

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Rabbi Heather Miller

Part of the world’s first LGBT founded Jewish congregation, Beth Chayim Chadashim, Heather is committed to justice at the intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and economic status.

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Priscilla Ocen

Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School where she teaches criminal law, family law, and a seminar on race, gender and the law, her work examines the relationship between race, gender identities and punishment.

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Samuel Paz

Vice President of the National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) providing broad support for grassroots and victims’ organizations combating police misconduct.

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Steve Rogers

Civilian Oversight Campaign Lead with Dignity and Power Now, Steve Rogers uses his experience as a formerly incarcerated person to end law enforcement violence by advocating on the local and state level.

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Lloyd Wilkey

25 years of community work to prevent violence and improve community and police relations, Lloyd directs a youth leadership program, trains law enforcement at the Museum of Tolerance, and engages in activism to push for accountability, transparency, and constitutional policing.

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Dayvon Williams

A young organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition, Dayvon directs his experience as a formerly incarcerated person into campaigns that counter the criminalization and incarceration of young people.

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Michele Ynfante

Co-Lead of the Dignity and Power Now Civilian Oversight Campaign, she has used her experience being incarcerated in the women’s jail to advocate for an end to medical negligence and abuse.

Although all nine civilian oversight commissioners will ultimately be chosen by the Los Angeles County Supervisors, there is an open application process for four of the positions. If you want dignity and power for all incarcerated people, their families, and communities we encourage you to support our nominees!

TAKE ACTION! Call on your county supervisor and demand that these nominees be appointed.


TAKE ACTION HERE!

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We Made History, Now Let’s Secure the Victory

Three years ago the idea of civilian oversight was farfetched, not possible, and according to the sheriff’s department unnecessary given what they already had in place. On Tuesday the county supervisors voted to approve several key features of this commission. We watched as the board of supervisors voted in favor of a motion that justified the presence of former law enforcement on the commission and gave the district attorney a formal channel to weigh in on the selection process. The language of the motion warns that restricting law enforcement from sitting on the commission would be “overtly discriminatory.”
 
Those of us who have been in this fight are disappointed that the board would blur the civil rights history of the term “discrimination” in a moment where #BlackLivesMatter actions over the last three years have exposed the targeting of Black people by law enforcement. We are deeply troubled with the board’s decision to entertain the idea of former law enforcement sitting on this commission in the same year that former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka will be on trial for corruption charges and while former Sheriff Baca has been denied immunity in that trial. Both of them have had their reigns on the department for at least a decade.

While Dignity and Power Now and the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence are in this work for the long haul and while many civilian oversight bodies have increased their powers and refined their structures over time, we are not interested in repeating those histories. It took the New York Civilian Review Board over twenty years to get where it is now with more effective leadership, subpoena and disciplinary power, and an average rate of substantiating complaints of 70 days. It’s not uncommon for complaints to take a over a year to process in other cities. We don’t have that kind of time. This historical moment requires us to fight for the totality of our vision and for that vision to be realized at the outset. The Coalition to End Sheriff Violence has been pushing five non-negotiable demands that are the foundation of that vision.

As we move forward, we are clear that creating independent civilian oversight over the largest sheriff’s department in the country – running the largest jail system in the world – is a historic accomplishment. We also know that the victory for Black and Brown people who bear the brunt of incarceration and excessive force in Los Angeles must be secured and protected. For us victory is ensuring that formerly incarcerated people are on this commission. Victory is ensuring that the input of the district attorney does not in practice undermine the input of the community during the selection process. Victory is securing subpoena power for the commission. Victory is ensuring that former law enforcement are not appointed to a commission that community members across L.A. County have demanded be reserved for civilians.