This week the City of Los Angeles, really LA taxpayers, paid Officer Earl Wright S1.2 million after a jury (after 4 hours) found that fried chicken and watermelon birthday cakes were indeed RACIST! http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/03/26/36562/black-lapd-officer-wins-1-2-million-discrimination/ and http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-lapd-verdict-20130326,0,617450.story
LA CAN has witnessed Officer Wright and other officers named in this suit during the course of their duties for years. There are relatively few Black officers in Central, a division that sits squarely in the middle of one of LA’s last African American/Black strongholds. What is clear from the details and outcome of this case is that Central Division is as racist and brutal toward African Americans internally as they are externally.
Based in Downtown LA’s Skid Row community, Central Division sits as if it’s a gun tower on a prison yard. Skid Row is definitely treated as a carceral community, day in and day out, and bearing witness to human and civil rights violations is a daily occurrence. The issues of race and racism are not new in the community and regardless of what the “new and improved” LAPD might tell you. Black folks are catching hell in Central Division, inside and outside of the station.
LA CAN has been on the front-lines fighting against the banishment of poor, mostly Black people in Downtown Los Angeles for more than a decade. Our nationally recognized Community Watch program educates residents on their civil rights, documents police activities in our neighborhood, and intervenes in cases of rights violations by the LAPD and Business Improvement District security guards. Videos taken over the years shows racist and insensitive behavior that is hauntingly, though probably not surprisingly, similar to the issues faced by Officer Wright.
Officer Wright was harassed with photos depicting him as a character in the 70s TV show Sanford and Son. In the news clips below Central Division Officers are caught illegally taking property from skid row residents and dumping it under the 6th Street bridge. Once there, Central Division officers sing the Sanford and Son theme song to summon homeless residents to unload their vehicles and take whatever they want.
Clearly the behavior alleged by Wright is not new and from LAPD’s response to this video — not frowned upon. When we released the footage LAPD’s response was nonchalant and questioned if it was indeed racially charged. Racism inside…racism out side – that pretty much sums it up.
Take a look for yourself.
LA CAN will continue to fight against LAPD’s oppression and racism in Skid Row, South LA, and across the City. LAPD now has $1.2 MORE reasons why they should finally get serious about confronting, preventing and erasing racism. Charlie Beck’s “new and improved” mantra, with the support of people like Connie Rice, simply means a better public relations department – not real change.