In December of 2015, I attended my first Los Angeles Police Commissioners Meeting. A friend had suggested that I come up with a solution rather than complaining about the amount of Black people being killed on video. I’ll abstain from the discourse on whether they deserved it, whether they should have been more respectful and kept their mouth shut, and my personal favorite “All Lives Matter not just Black Lives.” I actually had a former boss/friend tell me this dumb shit. Please read the mission statement before you take the phrase at face value.
The meetings I attended were typically held on a Tuesday morning at the LAPD headquarters near downtown Los Angeles. As I made the 2 hour voyage, due to lovely Los Angeles traffic, I remember feeling excited as I approached the strangely heavily barricaded building.
I approached one of the officers manning a barricade and he told me I would have to walk around to the back. Yes, you read that right. My Black ass was sent to the BACK walkway entrance, no, I did not see any water fountains labeled “Colored,” but they might as well have been. Press and Personnel only are afforded the shorter walk through the court yard directly to the door. To jump ahead, I will tell you that the barricades are ONLY placed out on Tuesday mornings in anticipation of the open to the public meeting. They are not out every day nor are they a permanent fixture, also when it rains the poor babies can’t stand in the rain apparently, so the barricade does not go out. I went to meeting during El Nino, walked right up to the door and they still tried to make me walk around and back up through the ramp that lead to the same door we all go through.
So, I walked to the next block, the building is huge and take up its own street, and proceeded to head “around back” in compliance. As you’ve seen, they love it when you don’t comply. I entered the building, saw some LEO’s, an x-ray machine, a metal detector, and a uniform working the desk. The building is grandiose. I think the walls are lined with marble or some shit. The security machines (metal detectors, x-ray) are off the right and not near an entrance to anything. I headed to the desk and asked, “Is this where I go for the Police Commissioner’s meeting?” Officer Joe Law then looked me up and down, rolled his eyes, and simply pointed to the machines on his left. I saw the line and I stood in it not really sure what to do.
All of a sudden I heard shouting. I look to my left and I see Dr. Melina Abdullah and a few other people were being removed from the building with a fleet of cops behind them. Emotions at that point we pure fear. I thought for sure someone was going to be beaten or shot right in front of me. In less than 5 minutes of being inside the building I went from feeling like a proud member of the community to public enemy #1. Dr. Abdullah, however, seemed unbothered. She was laughing and said “that was fast.” From that moment on, the energy I felt continued to get heavy. I finally made my way through the detectors, got fussed at for not walking back through them after I went through them. I was waiting to be told like a good Negro. I retrieved my personal belongings and thought I was good to go, again, they tell you NOTHING. Apparently, you also need a visitors pass. Smacked my pass on my chest and headed to this gateway that seems to open automatically when you attempt to walk through it, however I didn’t know this so I stood at it and looked back at the desk asking them to open it. They told me to just walk through, and surprise it did not have articulating arms that would entrap my precious legs.
I made my way down a hall and was meet by a row of officers, I’d say about 5 who were just standing there talking and laughing. I asked them where the meeting was and one of them pointed toward the door to the right. I can honestly say they lacked in community relations. I walked into the meeting already in progress, the room wasn’t completely full and the walls are lined with officers with body language that is best described as menacing.
I attempted to sit down in an empty row, only to be told by a female officer with pink hair that I couldn’t sit there, so I immediately moved to the row next to Anti-Media’s PM Beers. She was taping the meeting on her phone. I kept staring at the pink haired officer wondering how the fuck her hair was in regulations. Later, thanks to the jem of a blog that is Jasmyne Cannick’s I learned that she was the daughter or step-daughter of the chief of police, and in addition to her having lead officer rank on her shoulder as a freaking brand new cop, she also didn’t have to fix her hair and has the vocal capacity of Officer Hooks. No bullshit. She might as well be a member of the Ying Yang Twins while performing the whisper song.
The agenda for the meeting included an audit of the LAPD with respect to rookies not being properly trained. Big shock, right? In short, trainees are supposed to rotate training officers about every 3-4 months and the audit found that quite simply, they didn’t. Highlight of the audit was when the auditor mentioned that one trainee literally worked a desk half the year he was supposed to be out in the streets learning. Brass simply blamed it on a training officer being on leave and the 3/12 work schedule. Having been in the military this excuse was unacceptable, and would have resulted in a reprimand and most likely punishment. I was shocked when the President Police Commissioner didn’t rip a new hole in his ass. So then I learned more about him, he’s an entertainment lawyer. Here in Los Angeles, no law enforcement makes up the Commission panel, maybe 2 people who with there are actual employees, the Inspector General and the Secretary, perhaps the General Counsel as a third. They are appointed by the mayor and a majority of them are already attorneys.
After an agenda item, comments are allowed but you have to turn in a comment card prior to the item being discussed. The comment cards are in the back of the room and you have to turn in your card to one of the gaggle of menacing cops lining the walls. I’ll skip ahead to some of the comments made throughout the meeting; they weren’t specifically related to the audit. FYI, most of these meetings are just about approving donations received and paying 500 bucks for a dinner for police cadets it actually has NOTHING to do with policing this city. Administrative issues related to police discipline are done behind closed doors and then occasionally the public is told the findings. Other than legal money laundering, I really don’t know why they even have a Police Commissioners Board, let alone these public meetings. To give you an idea of the bullshit gifts they receive. A precinct asked for an ipad so they could use twitter and don’t even get me started on this fucking horse Beck and his daughter “donated.”
Someone came up to comment and that’s when I was shocked by the first amendment for the first time. A guy wearing a KKK hood said “nigger” (fight or flight was engaged on my end) and mentioned that the current President of the PC (Matt Johnson) was bit too light and that’s why he was appointed. He’s the standard issued yellow with a white wife, so Klan-head had receipts. Another commenter called members of the police commissioners “cock suckers.” I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. Why were these people being so rude?! Then I heard a letter read by the guy who heads Stop LAPD spying. In short, Steve Soboroff -his self-professed claim to fame is a love of collecting typewriters and finding the spot to build the Staple’s Center while in a luxurious helicopter ride over Los Angeles -said to the effect that the members of the community aren’t smart enough to write a letter to ask for a private sit down the with the Commission and that shouting at a meeting wasn’t going to open a dialogue. Well Hamid Kahn, who heads up Stop LAPD Spying read the letter he wrote to them requesting a meeting and to date, they never acknowledged it and further more insulted the people of the community of which they are supposed to serve by implying they were illiterate. Stop LAPD Spying is dope as fuck; I went to another event with them, check out what they are saying if you’re into the right to privacy.
I’m going to pause here for a moment to explain why I now agree that Steve Soboroff is a jerk. A woman was speaking during the public comments and she broke down in tears as she recounted the day she was forcefully removed from her home. This fucker started laughing. He fucking laughed at this woman’s tragedy of losing her home. She had papers in her hand that she claimed showed that her home was not in foreclosure or whatever eviction issue she had, and she was looking for help from the police in getting these papers processed. This asshole laughed. And when he’s not laughing, he’s often not paying attention to the commenters, he gets up and leaves for no reason, and he talks to other commissioners while the public is speaking. He used to be the President of the PC as well.
As the meeting came to an end it was time for open comments. There is a rule about if there are more about 5 people who want to comment, all commenters are given 1 minute to speak. The highlight of this was the clergy. One passively threatened that if the cops don’t get their shit together, they will assemble all the churches and march. The other brought in evidence left behind from a church burglary that she called in and somehow NO ONE from the LAPD ever showed up to gather said evidence, nor take a report. It was like a hood episode of Law and Order. She told her story about how the same person keeps breaking in and displayed the evidence like it was OJ’s bloody glove. This was the ONLY time the PC responded to a comment by asking a Detective in the room to follow up with her. I guess you don’t need 911 after-all. Just get robbed, gather the evidence, and bring it to a fucking PC meeting. The final comment of the meeting was by the President of the Police Protective League, aka Union President. Just by simply attending this meeting as a free citizen, he passively threatened me via his speech. Fuck that guy. If you ever wondered why there is an “us vs. them” mentality within the police department this is the guy responsible.
The meeting ends with an abrupt ushering of the public out of the room. I can best describe it as being surrounded by police that are way too close to you, so that you get a bullshit battery charge while trying to leave. In another meeting I attended they actually tried to do this with a guy who was getting kicked out. A cop stood in front of the ONLY exit door while 2 cops were behind him, he had to literally tell the cop to move so he could be in compliance to leave. I expected better of people who make 120K a year.
Post meeting, I was able to meet 2 good cops. One let me back in the meeting room to look at the agenda because I needed to know where everything was. However, this was after another one blocked me and said the meeting was over. After attending a few meetings I now know him as my “favorite” Officer, Officer Russell. He and I had a little moment at another meeting where he told me I didn’t have to go home but I had to get the heck outta here. To which I then asked for his badge number. LAPD is so professional. Of course he didn’t give it to me. The other cop was the detective they asked to speak to the clergy; she actually gave me a copy of the audit report. Good Lord the data, the numbers are fucking bad ya’ll.
On the way home I had a fucking FIRE lit in me, I couldn’t understand how a cop can treat you like a criminal at a meeting open to the public. And I couldn’t understand why the activists were being such assholes. To me both sides were in a state of war and by being Black I wasn’t in the middle I was already being dismissed as “one of them.” I hit up Dr. Abdullah via twitter; I don’t know her so that’s all I had to go by. I asked her if I could have a meeting, I had some questions after attending my first meeting. She basically baited me and told me to show up to the next meeting and we could talk after it. Well, I specifically remember her getting kicked out in record time at the last meeting and her unwillingness to even engage in dialogue with me didn’t sit well. In her defense, a good friend of mine knows her and says she gets death threats every day so she is very careful when it comes to strangers. In hind sight, it’s understandable. At the time, I didn’t like it.
I did go to a few more police meetings, however my last meeting lead to the incident with Officer Russell, and I never went back. I’m a Black Veteran, so I can’t stand up to the cops without repercussions.
I do recommend that everyone go to at least 1 meeting so they can experience it for themselves. Even typing this out, it seems so surreal. I now have a better understanding of why activists fight so hard with LAPD. I don’t agree with HOW they do it, but at least someone IS doing it.