Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Black Lives Matter-L.A. criticizes reappoinment of LAPD Chief Michel Moore

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Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles leaders lambasted Mayor Karen Bass’ decision to greenlight a second term for Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore, describing the move as a betrayal at a news conference Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Police Commission unanimously approved a second term for Moore on Tuesday, a day after Bass expressed support for the move in a letter to the board. As mayor, Bass wields considerable power over the Police Department and its chief.

The five-member commission, whose members are selected by the mayor, is currently made up of appointees of former Mayor Eric Garcetti, who left office in December. Bass has not yet announced a timetable for replacing any of the members with her own appointees.

Her letter Monday to the commission said she and Moore had discussed and agreed upon the need for expanded police reform, increased community policing and more alternative response measures. She also said that the deaths of three people in police custody at the start of the year underscored “the need for continued and significant reform of how the City approaches public safety.”

At Wednesday’s news conference outside the ACLU of Southern California’s headquarters, community activists denounced Moore’s tenure as the city’s top cop, citing a botched detonation of a fireworks cache by the department’s bomb squad that injured 17 people in 2021 and the police killings of Takar Smith, Keenan Anderson and Oscar Sanchez last month, among other things.

In a written statement read aloud from Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and cousin of Keenan Anderson, Cullors described Bass as “a friend and a comrade for many years” who had reached out to offer support after Anderson’s death.

“For Bass to reappoint Michel Moore after my family and thousands of community voices asked her not to is both disappointing and disrespectful. I want so badly to believe in the first Black woman mayor, but actions like these give me and the community deep pause,” Cullors said in the statement, which was read by Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles organizer Tabatha Jones Jolivet.

Bass’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Black Lives Matter-L.A. co-founder Melina Abdullah also underscored her deep ties to the mayor — a former community organizer who campaigned on the promise of bringing more police accountability and transparency.

“We used to sit in my backyard, on my couch, sometimes on her couch. We held each other’s children. We laughed, we organized, we strategized together,” Abdullah said of Bass, going on to say she felt “betrayed” by the mayor’s decision to affirm a second term for Moore. Abdullah previously publicly critiqued Bass’ public safety plans during the mayoral campaign.

Abdullah also took issue with Bass’ laser focus on homelessness since taking office, saying that it shouldn’t come at the expense of police reform.

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“You’ve heard her on camera say, ‘Well, I’m dealing with the homelessness crisis,’” Abdullah said. “Well, look, you are mayor of the second-largest city in this country. You have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

As a member of Congress, Bass led a highly visible police reform effort in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, introducing and championing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which ran aground in the Senate.

Representatives from the ACLU of Southern California and Stop LAPD Spying Coalition also spoke at the news conference, as did Sheila Hines, the aunt of Wakiesha Wilson, who died while in LAPD custody in 2016.

Abdullah laid out a number of demands for Bass on Wednesday, including rescinding her approval of Moore’s reappointment and meeting with activists about the matter next week.

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