Black Lives Matter activists and their allies are denouncing Mayor Karen Bass’ support for the reappointment of Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore and are calling on the mayor to meet with them next week to discuss her position.
Expressing “outrage” and saying they feel “betrayed” by Bass, who was a community leader in South L.A. before she entered politics, those who spoke at a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, said they expected something different from L.A.’s first Black female mayor.
“This is not what we expected from somebody who stood on these streets like many of us have and challenged, some time ago, the authority of LAPD,” said Baba Akili, an organizer with Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles.
To the mayor, Akili said: “Sit with us. Talk with us. We understand you just got there. But don’t give away your power.” He claimed, “Don’t give away your responsibility to a person that by any measure and all standards has failed.”
The group is calling on Bass to rescind her support for Moore’s reappointment and to overhaul the police commission. They’re asking the mayor to meet with them next Wednesday at the American Civil Liberties Union’s office near downtown L.A.
Additionally, the activists are urging the City Council to override Bass’ appointment, if it comes to that.
Chief Moore, whose first term has not been without controversy, was reappointed by the L.A. Police Commission in a unanimous vote on Tuesday, a day after Bass sent the commission a letter expressing support for the police chief.
In January, about a month into her role as mayor, Bass asked the commission to delay its vote as she considered whether she wanted Moore to stay on.
“For decades, I’ve heard directly from neighbors, community members, and the people of Los Angeles about their views on public safety, and since taking office, I have had detailed discussions with Chief Moore and stakeholders,” Bass wrote in her letter to the commission this week.
Bass also noted that she and Moore have agreed that there’s a need for police reform, including how officers respond to an individual having a mental health crisis, increasing community policing, expanding alternative response measures and increasing recruitment of reform-minded officers.
Moore’s tenure as police chief has seen controversy. Moore was chief in 2020 when tens of thousands of residents marched in the city’s streets following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
He came under intense criticism during those protests for equating looters to the officers who killed Floyd. For those comments, and for numerous incidents in which officers used violence to quell demonstrations, activists have called for his firing.
But he also shepherded reforms in the department following the uprising: He required department-wide retraining in crowd control tactics and saw the department analyze its own failures during the protests through multiple after-action reports.
More recently, he’s been under fire from critics after three men of color – Takar Smith, Oscar Sanchez and Keenan Anderson – died after being shot or Tased by LAPD officers during the first few days of 2023.
During Wednesday’s press conference, held outside the ACLU office, those who criticized the mayor’s support for Moore said they felt conflicted, as some have known Bass for years and even consider her a friend.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, whose cousin was Keenan Anderson, said Bass – who she has considered a “comrade” – reached out to her after Anderson’s death.
“I want so badly to believe in the first Black woman mayor,” Cullors said. “But actions like these give me and the community deep pause. Right now, we need elected officials to be courageous and challenge the ongoing killings of Black people by the police.”
BLM-LA co-founder Melina Abdullah said she received a call from Bass on Tuesday, moments before the mayor’s office publicly shared her letter expressing her support for Moore’s reappointment, and was told that Bass is focused on solving the city’s homeless crisis and did not have time to conduct a search for a new police chief.
Abdullah also said she’s been friends with Bass for years but felt “duty bound” to hold the mayor accountable if she choose not to hold the police chief accountable.
“I personally love Karen Bass as a human being, as a friend, as another Black mother,” Abdullah said. “I personally love her, which is why this pains me. But just like when your family members do wrong, when they betray your family, they have to be held to account.”
Bass’ spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.