July 19, 2012

 

By Thandisizwe Chimurenga

 

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

 

 

Every 36 hours or every one and a half days, a Black woman, man or child is killed by a police officer, security guard, or self-appointed law enforcer.  So says a recent report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), a national Black human rights organization.  The report, entitled “No More Trayvons,” examines the killings of 120 people between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year and paints a disturbing picture of questionable actions by both those who are “sworn to protect and serve,” and private citizens who are allowed to act outside of the law.

 

Originally released on July 9th, the report initially claimed that the killings took place an average of every 40 hours.  The report was updated and re-released however, on July 16 – the 150th birthday of anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells – to reflect an additional 10 confirmed victims who had been killed during the first six months of 2012.

 

“Since the murder of Trayvon Martin and the worldwide attention that’s been focused on it, there’s been a huge public outcry, but few headlines, about more killings.  More grieving family members started coming forward and there were more calls for investigations,” said Kali Akuno, the national organizer of the MXGM and co-author of the report.  According to Akuno, “exposure of the true depth of the problem became more urgent to demonstrate that Trayvon’s murder was not an isolated tragedy, but symptomatic of the larger problem of institutional racism.”

 

 Trayvon Martin was the Florida teen shot and killed while visiting his father on Feb. 26, 2012, in a gated community by George Zimmerman, a self-described Neighborhood Watch captain. Zimmerman claimed his shooting of the unarmed, teenage Martin was in self-defense and thus justified under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.  Florida is one of a handful of states where voters have adopted laws that state an individual, instead of retreating, may exercise deadly force if they believe a threat to their life exists.  The individual may be justified to “stand their ground,” whether in a public or private space. 

 

 

 

Among the findings of the 38-page report are the following:

 

●In 105 of the 120 cases of extrajudicial killings, the legal system has (thus far) only charged nine people and the outcome of these charges is yet to be determined;

 

●Of the 120 killed 13 were children under the age of 18; 22 were just entering adulthood, aged 18-21 years; 48 were aged 22-31 years and 20 were aged 32-41 years;

 

●A significant portion of those killed suffered from mental health problems or were intoxicated and behaved in ways the police allegedly could not control; 28 people might be alive today if community members trained and committed to humane crisis intervention and mental health treatment had been called instead of the police;

 

● 55 people had no weapon at all at the time they were executed and 43 people were alleged to have weapons but the allegations were either disputed by witnesses or further investigation.

 

● Five women were among the 120 executed by police: two who were accused car thieves, two who were by-standers and one woman who was beaten and smothered by police in an inappropriate attempt to “calm” her down.

 

 

 

Akuno says that the 120 people killed by law enforcement and others are described as extrajudicial “because they happen without trial or any due process, against all international law and human rights conventions.  As such, a national plan of action needs to be adopted by the Obama administration to address this.”

 

Local reactions to the report’s findings include anger and calls for federal oversight of the police.

 

“It would be an understatement to just say this report is disturbing,” said Bilal Ali, a founder of the Coalition against Police Abuse along with the late Michael Zinzun. 

 

Ali is now an organizer with Occupy the Hood, an offshoot of the Occupy Movement that swept across the country in the fall of 2011.  “The report validates the assumption that there is no value placed on African-American life here in Amerikkka. Occupy The Hood-LA, through its “Stand Our Ground Campaign,” plans on educating and organizing our people so that we will ‘stand our ground’ against any and all genocidal practices as employed by this racist and parasitic social order.”

 

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, civil rights activist and analyst, called the report both “frightening” and “terrifying,” and stated that it shows how “local police departments have dropped the ball.”  According to Hutchinson, [These incidents of extrajudicial killings] “demand not only a full scale investigation, but the feds are going to have to do what they did before: when Los Angeles, Miami, Pittsburgh and other cities were under consent decrees, there was a decrease in these types of incidents. When L.A. came out from under consent decree, there was an increase.” 

 

Hutchinson noted that the “No More Trayvons” report appeared not long after the Los Angeles Police Commission’s Inspector General released its own report on the LAPD’s use of force incidents for the first quarter of 2012.  That report, published June 27 and available on the web, states that “the total number of categorical use of force incidents, which had been declining since 2007, steeply increased in 2011 to its highest point in 5 years. This growth – encompassing 30 additional incidents – represents a 35 percent increase over 2010 numbers.” 

 

According to the report, the number of shootings for the years 2007 through 2011 is as follows:

 

 

 

2007:               105

 

2008:               102

 

2009:               84

 

2010:               85

 

2011:               115

 

 

 

The LAPD’s Southeast and 77th Street precincts show the highest number of incidents of officer-involved shootings.

 

The Inspector General’s office disputes LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s explanation that the number of officer-involved shootings increased because the number of assaults on officers had increased.  Suggesting that the methodology used to record such incidents may be faulty, the report states that “Aggravated assaults on police officers are measured on a per-crime/per-victim basis, while categorical use of force incidents are counted on a per-incident basis, regardless of the number of officers (or suspects) involved. For example, a single shooting incident in 2011 involved 16 documented assaults. Although 15 officers fired their weapons, this incident is counted as one officer-involved shooting.”

 

Hutchinson believes that “the federal government, Attorney General Eric Holder are going to have to step up to the plate,” and that any consent decree, regardless of where it is implemented nationally, must have at least three common components:  “racial profiling must cease; complaints about police conduct must be taken seriously and investigated fully; and police training must be thoroughly revamped,” he said.

 

Tiah Starr is an organizer with the local chapter of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality.  The group holds an annual march in downtown Los Angeles from Pershing Square to MacArthur Park to protest the victims of police murder.  She says that grassroots action is also necessary. 

 

“It’s not enough to read the report and complain about how bad things are; we need to hold the police accountable when every time another life is taken,” said Starr. “Whether that means organizing a thousand more million hoodie marches, going out at night with video cameras to watch the cops, or standing with the victim’s family – its clear that remaining silent on this will only lead to even more murders.”

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Community

July 12, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

 

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

Loretta and Bobby Love have been happily married for 20 years and proud homeowners of their Los Angeles residence for 12, but for the past few weeks have been fuming because they say Extermination Company Terminix is responsible for a burglary that occurred at the residence on June 27.

 

According to The Love’s, they contracted to have their home exterminated on June 25 and were instructed to not reside in the residence for 72 hours. They complied and stayed at a local hotel, but was informed by a neighbor on June 27 that a red truck arrived at the home at 6:30 am or thereabout and took several items with them.

 

“We feel raped and violated. We trusted Terminix with our home and all of our personal belongings, but instead were totally disrespected. We demand justice,” said a visibly angry Loretta Love.

 

Mrs. Love cited among the missing items that are alleged to have been stolen as four flat screen televisions, desktop and lap top computer, thousands of dollars in jewelry, personal irreplaceable photographs that were stored in a camera and a precious gem given to her by her mother-in-law that was bought in Brazil.

 

The couple provided a police report from the L.A. County Sheriff which was summoned to the home, a contract signed for Terminix and receipts totaling more than $15,000 as evidence.

 

They say that Terminix contracted the work to a sub-contractor named Preferred Fumigation Inc., and they believe that company is responsible for the theft.

 

Terminix issued the following statement through Katie Wassmer:

 

“We take these allegations very seriously and since learning of them have fully cooperated with authorities in their investigation into this matter. We will continue to do everything necessary to support their efforts.

 

While Terminix is committed to professional performance, we cannot always prevent the deliberate wrongful acts of others.  Our customers’ satisfaction is a top priority for us, and we empathize with any loss by the homeowner of personal belongings.”

 

Both the husband and wife work as case managers in the mental health field. Bobby is a case manger for the homeless, responsible for securing housing and find help for substance abuse.

 

“More than 20 years ago I was homeless with a substance abuse problem and was blessed to turn my life around, so for me to be working in this field is a verification of where I came from and also hope for them,” Bobby stated.

 

Loretta is a college graduate from Cal State Long Beach and is a devout Christian and attends church regularly.

 

“This is just a hopeless feeling because deeds to our home, pink slips to our cars and my husband’s wedding band were among the several items that were stolen. When something like this happens it challenges your faith, but I am committed to the God I serve,” she solemnly added.

 

They have reached out to both companies and also have consulted with a lawyer, but have not retained counsel believing that perhaps Terminix will resolve the issue.

 

“We hope that our neighbor who witness the burglary will cooperate with law enforcement and we want to see theses individuals prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It’s just wrong and we wanted it corrected,” concluded Mr. Love.

Parent Category: News
Category: Community

July 12, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sheriff Lee Baca is recalling about 200 official-looking badges that were given to politicians for use during disasters.

The move in Los Angeles County came two weeks after federal authorities arrested three officials of the small suburb of Cudahy on bribery charges.

Prosecutors handling the case released a photo of a woman in a nightclub holding two handguns and wearing a badge given to a councilman.

Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said there’s no connection between the photo and the decision to recall the badges, which he said was made in January but didn’t begin until recently.

“Why it began now, that’s a good question,” he said.

The move was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The six-pointed stars look like badges worn by deputies but are emblazoned with “City Official Los Angeles County.” More than 80 have been returned during the past week, Whitmore said.

The Sheriff’s Department said the badges were provided to public officials so they could easily access a command post during an emergency or disaster.

In 2007, then-Attorney General Jerry Brown said honorary badges given to citizens violates state law if the badges “would deceive an ordinary reasonable person into believing that it is authorized, for use by a peace officer.”

Brown also noted that the badges don’t give recipients the powers of a peace officer.

Other California law enforcement agencies have pulled badges in the past.

Four years ago, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens recalled the badges of more than 400 people in a volunteer program. Hutchens was concerned about claims that former Sheriff Michael Carona had issued the badges to political allies and business associates.

Carona is serving a 5½-year sentence for witness tampering.

Parent Category: News
Category: Community

July 12, 2012

On May 29, 2012, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the motion by Supervisor Don Knabe for the dedication of the Dr. William Arthur “Bill” Burke Marina Walk Promenade at Esprit Marina del Rey, located at 13900 Marquesas Way in Marina del Rey.

 

We unveiled a sign dedicating the Promenade in Dr. Burke’s honor on Friday, June 29, 2012, and pay homage to his many years of dedicated public and community service to the County of Los Angeles.  The event was to honor Dr. Burke in public service by permanently renaming the Marina’s Promenade in his honor.  The Dr. William A. Burke Marina Walk Promenade serves as a landside pedestrian route around the Marina and offers breath-taking views of the scenic recreational harbor. 

 

William Arthur “Bill” Burke is an accomplished business and political leader in Southern California. He is best known as the founder and former long-time president of the City of Los Angeles Marathon. As Chairman of the AQMD Governing Board, he has set in motion a decade-long series of precedent-setting policy initiatives, including: the District's evolving Environmental Justice program; Asthma and Outdoor Air Quality Consortium; Brain & Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation; and in 2009 a 'Helping Hand Initiative' to protect both health and jobs during the current economic downturn. Dr. Burke has a diverse blend of professional experience in several fields.

 

In 1972, Dr. Burke founded and for two years presided over the American Health Care Delivery Corporation. From the health care profession, Dr. Burke’s career interests turned to the gold mining industry. He accepted the Chairman of the Board at Genesis International, a Los Angeles-based real estate and mining development holding company. Then from 1981-84 he supervised the planning and construction of mining concessions in Liberia, West Africa for the World Mining Development.

 

Then in 1984, Dr. Burke was appointed Commissioner of Tennis for the Summer Olympic Games in the City of Los Angeles. It was the spirit of civic pride and unity demonstrated by the host city that first inspired Dr. Burke to think of ways to perpetuate this unique experience. The result was the first City of Los Angeles Marathon held in 1986. The Marathon, now in its twenty-fourth year, is one of the largest organized road races in the world.

 

The success of the Marathon, spurred Dr. Burke to try his hand at another kind of sporting event: car racing. In 1997, the Los Angeles Vintage Grand Prix debuted on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles. It was the largest vintage automobile street race ever held. It included the Ferrari Concours d’Elegance – a display of historical and unique Ferrari vehicles valued at fifty million dollars. However, in 1998 the street race captured the interest of NASCAR and soon evolved into the Ford L.A. Street Race. In its fourth year, the Street Race included multiple types of racing, including an electric truck race, Indy car race, NASCAR race, and Pro-Porsche division race.

 

In the political arena, Dr. Burke served as the Consul General to the Republic of Mali for over fifteen years. He has served two terms as the President of both the State of California Fish and Game Commission and the Wildlife Conservation Board. Since 1993, Dr. Burke has served on the Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) as the representative of the Speaker of the Assembly.  AQMD is the government agency that regulates air quality for the four-county region of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside.  Since his initial appointment to AQMD, Dr. Burke has been elected by his peers to serve as both Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Board.  In April 2000, Governor Gray Davis appointed Dr. Burke to serve as a Board Member for the State of California Air Resources Board.  In October 2000, Mayor Richard J. Riordan appointed Dr. Burke to the Fire Commission of the City of Los Angeles.  In 2002, he was appointed to serve on the California Coastal Commission.

 

Dr. Burke holds multiple degrees: a Bachelor of Science from Miami University, a Doctorate of Education from the University of Massachusetts, and two other Honorary Doctorate Degrees of Law from Lane College and Mount Ida College. Among the numerous other awards and distinctions Dr. Burke has received the Meritorious Service Award from the City of Los Angeles, the First Annual Living Legends Award, the Humanitarian Award from the Mid-City Chamber of Commerce, and the Green Power Foundation’s Man of the Year Award.

 

Dr. Burke is married to retired Los Angeles County Supervisor and former Congresswoman Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. They live in the Los Angeles area and have two daughters, Christine and Autumn.

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Category: Community

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