‘Black Lives Matter’ Petitions Demand LAPD Chief’s Ouster

August 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Black Lives Matter activists who have been camped outside Los Angeles City Hall since early last month delivered a petition with more than 8,000 signatures to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office Monday to demand that he fire police Chief Charlie Beck.

The activists were joined by the mother of a woman who died in a detention cell earlier this year, actor Matt McGorry and representatives of the Asian American, Latino and faith communities.

The delegation handed over two boxes of signatures, gathered through an online petition at Color of Change, to Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell, Garcetti’s adviser on public safety issues.

Gorell said he will pass the signatures on to Garcetti, who has been out of town for most of the 28 days that Black Lives Matter activists have staged a sit-in outside City Hall. The sit-in began after the Police Commission upheld the actions of officers involved in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Redel Jones, a black woman.

Over the past several weeks, Garcetti has attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, taken a four-day vacation and is now observing the Olympics in Rio as part of a delegation seeking to host the 2024 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Before leaving on his trips, Garcetti expressed strong support for Beck. He said he offered to meet inside City Hall with a small delegation from Black Lives Matter, while suggesting that he does not want to be met with shouting. The activists have responded by calling for a public meeting with the entire group.

Black Lives Matter member Jasmine Abdullah Monday characterized Garcetti’s absence as part of a pattern that began when he appeared to “run away from us” at other protests and encounters with the group.

Abdullah warned there will be “political consequences” if Garcetti continues to ignore them.

“We are not sitting out here just to sit out here,” but are taking actions such as circulating the online petition and amassing more support from the community, she said.

“If you really care about this city like you say you do, and you want to win in this next election, you better come home,” Abdullah said, directly addressing Garcetti in what she jokingly described as a “love letter.”

She acknowledged that Garcetti has offered to meet with five of the Black Lives Matter members in his office, but she such an arrangement puts their group at a disadvantage.

“They are doing what they do best, which is divide and conquer, and try to pick their leaders,” she said. “We decided he needs to come downstairs.

“It’s all right, he can come downstairs, these are his stairs, and ours, he can come talk to everybody as a whole.”

After being pursued from public event to public event by Black Lives Matter members, and since being shouted down at a South Los Angeles town hall by the group’s members, Garcetti has had minimal engagement with Black Lives Matter members.

He has instead increased his interactions with other faith leaders, nonprofit organizations, activists and even hip hop artists like The Game and Snoop Dogg, often referring to these relationships as evidence black leaders are working with his office and the Los Angeles Police Department to improve policing and public safety.

Despite LAPD’s roll-out of community policing and other programs to enhance relations with black and minority communities, Black Lives Matter activists contend LAPD still has the highest number of police shootings of any department in the country. They also allege Beck has been too lenient on officers who have fatally shot residents, and is unresponsive to families regarding the deaths of people in police custody.

Lisa Hines, the mother of Wakiesha Wilson, a 36-year-old black woman who was found dead in her cell on Easter Sunday, spoke during the news conference Monday about her experience trying to find her daughter after she failed to show up for a court hearing.

Hines said the police department unnecessarily delayed telling her of her daughter’s death, and that she had to make several phone calls to the LAPD before she was given a phone number – without any further explanation – to the coroner’s office.

“If this was your child and you were looking for her, and somebody gave you a number to call … and when you do call the number, the coroner’s office answers, what would be going on in your body mind and soul?” she said.

Hines said she is “still devastated” and has so far not gotten any more information about how her daughter died, which she blames on Beck.

“He’s the leader of the police station, and all he can do at the Police Commission meetings is sit there with a blank stare on his face when I’m talking,” she said.

The Black Lives Matter activists’ demand for Beck to be fired was echoed by representatives of other groups who also expressed dissatisfaction with the chief.

McGorry, who stars in the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” and the ABC drama “How to Get Away With Murder,” said he was there “in solidarity with White People 4 Black Lives,” a group of white people who support the Black Lives Matter movement.

McGorry, noting that Black Lives Matter activists “have been camped out here for nearly a month now and have been requesting a meeting,” said Garcetti’s absence comes off as “incredibly disrespectful.”

He added he was recently “disgusted” by an encounter with an officer who casually assured him that he shouldn’t “worry,” because “we beat him up,” apparently referring to a person involved in a police incident in his neighborhood.

“A police chief that has an environment that allows that to be OK, a police community where that can thrive … is not okay,” McGorry said.

Audrey Kuo, from API for Black Lives, said, “We are rising in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and we are demanding that Eric Garcetti fire Chief Beck.”

LAPD Misclassified Crimes

December 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The rate of aggravated assaults in Los Angeles would have been 36 percent higher per year, from 2008 and 2014, had the crimes been properly classified, according to an inspector general report presented Wednesday to the Police Commission.

Crimes that should have been classified as aggravated assaults, considered violent crimes, were instead reported to the federal government as simple assaults or put in other, less severe categories, during the seven-year period reviewed by his office, Inspector General Alexander Bustamante told commissioners.

Bustamante said the estimated number of misclassified aggravated assaults was based on a random sampling of 3,895 crime reports, as his office could not do a review of every instance of crimes likely to have been misclassified.

The misclassifications appeared to be largely due to a “lack of education” and “inconsistencies” in guidance from the FBI — to which the department submits crime statistics — rather than from intentional efforts by members of the department to mislead the public and the federal government, Bustamante said.

When he began the investigation, “the first thing we were looking for was evidence that people were gaming this, to manipulate the system either on a division level or individual station or all the way up to the department heads,” Bustamante said.
He said his office ran across “some examples of individuals that made decisions that we … could not really rationalize why those decisions were made.”

But it became clear early in the investigation that “an overwhelming majority” of those in the department tasked with classifying the crimes “didn’t really understand the process at all,” he said.
Some of the confusion came from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, or UCR, system not always lining up with the penal codes that police officers use to decide what charges to submit for the district attorney’s consideration, Bustamante said.

And when the department sought help from the FBI, it “got further inconsistencies from the FBI itself,” Bustamante said.
The inspector general’s report follows a Los Angeles Times investigation in 2014 that found the LAPD was under-reporting aggravated assaults due to misclassification.

Bustamante said the police department has since established a Data Integrity Unit that regularly inspects crime statistics and trains personnel to more accurately classify crimes.

He said the department appeared to be “on point with the issues they identified and the remedies (that) … were designed specifically to fix those issues and try to reduce the errors.”

LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore told the commission that while he feels most of the misclassifications stem from the “idiosyncrasies” of the UCR, lack of training and staffing cutbacks, there have been a few cases in which the department has had to take disciplinary action.

“The department is not suggesting that individuals have not wrongly classified and wrongly, we believe, done so for the improper reasons,” Moore said. “And in each instance of that occurrence, we have taken swift and certain actions — there’s been demotions.

“There is no tolerance for people managing crime with an eraser or downplaying an incidence because of an upcoming Compstat inspection” or to give an impression that safety was improving, he said.

Moore added that the department depends on the same data to determine how to deploy its resources, so “we’re all committed as an organization to make sure this is accurate.”

Officer’s Acts ‘Criminal,’ Says L.A.’s Police Chief

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday he believes an officer charged with using excessive force during an October arrest committed a “criminal act,” and he personally urged the district attorney to file charges.

“I was shocked by the content of the video,” Beck said of the surveillance footage of the Oct. 16 arrest of 22-year-old Clinton Alford Jr. near 55th Street and South Avalon Boulevard.

On Monday, Officer Richard Garcia, 34, was charged with assault under color of authority. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to return to court June 1, when a date is expected to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

Officers arrested Alford because he matched the description of a robbery suspect. After running from police, Alford surrendered but Garcia allegedly assaulted him while the suspect was on the ground. Alford’s attorney, Caree Harper, contends that Alford was on the ground being restrained by other officers when an officer kicked and stomped on him, then repeatedly struck him in the head and body.

Beck said that after he saw the video of the arrest, he “immediately ensured that the officers were sent home.”

The chief said he “contacted personally the district attorney and expressed my desire for her folks to not only look at this case but to file criminal charges.”

Garcia has not been fired by the department, which is allowing the criminal case to move forward.

“We have to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is justice here,” Beck said. “And we want the justice system to be able to address this use of force, which I believe is a criminal act.”

All of the officers involved in the arrest were placed on paid administrative leave.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, issued a statement saying, “While we certainly share Chief Beck’s concern about the incident, we owe it to all parties involved to let the judicial system run its course so that all facts can be considered before judgment is made.”

Alford has already filed a lawsuit against the city over the arrest, and recently accused police of harassing him ever since he filed the case.

According to Harper, prosecutors dropped all charges against Alford. She has been pushing Beck to release the video of the arrest in the name of transparency.

Garcia faces up to three years in jail if convicted, prosecutors said.

Multitud Arremete Contra Jefe de LAPD Durante Reunión Comunitaria

July 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Charlie Beck, el jefe de policía de Los Ángeles, permaneció estático mientras orador tras orador criticaba su trabajo como principal encargado de LAPD durante una reunión de la comisión de la policía de la ciudad la semana pasada.

La comisión civil está en el proceso de decidir si el contrato de Beck como jefe de policía debe prorrogarse por cinco años más. La reunión en el Centro de Personas Mayores en Lincoln Heights fue una de dos que se realizaron para obtener retroalimentación de la comunidad. La primera fue el 11 de junio en Westchester. La segunda el 8 de julio en Lincoln Heights.

La reunión del martes atrajo a residentes de toda la ciudad, incluyendo el Valle de San Fernando y el sur de Los Ángeles

Read this article in English: Crowd Lambasts Beck to LAPD Commission

Sólo unos cuantos de los cerca de 100 asistentes a la reunión se pronunciaron a favor de extender el contrato de Beck, mientras que decenas de oradores usaron sus dos minutos de tiempo para exponer ante el público a Beck, y pidiendo una y otra vez a la comisión que no lo nombren a un segundo mandato.

Desde el inicio de la reunión, los fuertes abucheos dejaron en claro que no se trataba de un público amigable con el jefe de la policía.

El presidente de la comisión, Steve Soboroff, pidió al público fuera respetuoso con el panel de comisionados y policías que estaban presentes. “Los comentarios no se pueden discutir hoy, estamos aquí sólo para escuchar”, explicó Soboroff.

“Esta es una oportunidad para que escuchemos y podamos saber como estamos haciendo nuestro trabajo”, añadió Beck, desconociendo los bombardeos de los comentarios negativos que pronto enfrentaría y que no podría responder.

“Nosotros le damos un F”, dijo uno de los oradores.

“En vez de su nuevo nombramiento debería ser investigado”, dijeron varios oradores.

Durante dos horas, un tras otro acusaba a Beck entre otras cosas, de permitir que los agentes bajo su mando  participaban en detenciones de perfil racial y el uso excesivo de la fuerza. Acusaron al jefe de la policía de no controlar ni disciplinar a los oficiales que causan problemas bajo su mando.

Más de cien personas se reunieron en el centro para ancianos de Lincoln Heights para hablar sobre la reelección del jefe de policía de Los Ángeles, Charlie Beck. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Más de cien personas se reunieron en el centro para ancianos de Lincoln Heights para hablar sobre la reelección del jefe de policía de Los Ángeles, Charlie Beck. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Varios oradores acusaron a Beck de invadir la privacidad de las personas y alimentar el odio entre las diversas comunidades de la ciudad.

El residente de Highland Park Luís Navarro cuestionó al departamento por un caso que se remonta a hace 21 años. El martes, él quería saber quién tiene derecho a la justicia.

“¿Solo los ricos tienen la justicia porque tienen dinero y tienen el poder?”, preguntó agregando que él ha estado esperando 21 años para que el departamento de policía resuelva los asesinatos por estrangulamiento de su hija y nieta.

Él le dijo a EGP que Beck está siguiendo los pasos de sus predecesores, y señaló que el caso del asesinato de su hija esta asignado a dos detectives de tiempo parcial, mientras que otros casos, como el de Brian Stowe en el Dodger Stadium, tuvieron varios detectives de tiempo completo trabajando ese caso.

“¿Por qué? ¿Porque somos pobres? ¿Porque no tenemos dinero?”, exasperado preguntó Navarro.

A él se le unió un oficial de policía retirado, de tercera generación, Steve Brackett de LA, quien dijo que se opone a la reelección de Beck por su tratamiento de los oficiales desde que asumió la posición.

Acusó a Beck de degradar a una empleada de subjefe de la policía por “dos rangos” porque “carecía de ‘Pedigree de LAPD’”, dijo Brackett, contribuyentes tienen que lidiar con los millones de dólares en acuerdos de demandas que involucran a oficiales bajo el mando de Beck.

“[Beck muestra] favoritismo a los oficiales relacionados con él y los oficiales con los que trabaja,” Brackett dijo a EGP.

Un grupo de la comunidad Skid Row del centro de Los Ángeles llegó también para demostrar su descontento. Sylvia Hernández dijo que estaba decepcionada de hace dos semanas cuando agentes del LAPD se presentaron 25 minutos tarde a una reunión programada en Skid Row, luego “solo se sentaron allí en silencio”.

“¿Cuáles son sus planes para la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas?” para la vigilancia en esta comunidad, Hernández le dijo a Beck mientras caminaba de regreso a su asiento para unirse a los miembros de la Red de Acción Comunitaria de Los Ángeles.

“Beck ni siquiera llegaría a Skid Row”, dijo otro miembro.

Zandra Solís dijo que ella no sabe lo que Beck o la comisión tienen previsto hacer para detener la violencia en Skid Row, y acusó a los oficiales de policía de Los Ángeles de “matar a personas inocentes que no tienen armas”, en referencia a la muerte de un enfermo mental.

“No me siento protegida porque no sé si al salir afuera voy a ser asesinada por uno de sus policías”, dijo la residente de Skid Row.

Sin embargo, Xiomara Flores-Olguín, veterana de 20 años con el Departamento de Niños y Familias (DCFS por sus siglas en inglés), fue de las pocas que habló en defensa de Beck. “Quiero que sepan quien es Charlie Beck”, dijo a la comisión.

“Lo conocí en el 2003, cuando el Departamento de Servicios para Niños y familias estableció una unidad especializada denominada MART, el Equipo de Respuesta de Multi-Agencia”. Explicó que MART se ocupa de los problemas relacionados con los niños de la ciudad y el condado de Los Ángeles, miembros de pandillas, y niños en pandillas.

“Yo sabía que él era el ex capitán de la división de menores y de inmediato se comprometió a trabajar con nosotros”, dijo Flores-Olguín. Como resultado, desde el 2004 DCFS y LAPD han sido aliados.

“Sé que tiene problemas, pero quien no tiene problemas, he visto el crimen disminuir [bajo su mando]”, la residente de El Sereno Lupe Ramírez le dijo a EGP. “Cuando tenemos problemas su respuesta hacia nosotros ha sido rápida, son amables, respetuosos y regresan a hacer un seguimiento”, dijo Ramírez, explicando que se trata de un reflejo de la norma establecida por el jefe.

La sesión fue dada por concluida después de dos horas, pero eso no impidió que los disidentes del jefe continuaran impulsando su oposición. “¡Esperamos que te despidan!”, “¡Nosotros no te queremos aquí!”, gritaban unos mientras Beck se detenía para tomarse fotos con sus partidarios.

Se espera que la Junta de Comisionados de la Policía voten el 19 de agosto para un nuevo mandato de Beck, según su página web.

Si usted no pudo asistir a estas reuniones, aún puede enviar sus comentarios sobre el nuevo nombramiento de Beck por correo electrónico a: reappointment@lapd.lacity.org.

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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