Sunday, May 24, 2009

Harambee Movement Agreement of Partnership

Harambee Movement - Agreement of Partnership
Harambee is a Kiswahili word that means "Lets All Pull Together"
We, as member of the world Afrikan community, have come together to carry out the Harambee Movement.
As part of the Harambee Movement, I promise to carry out the following with all of my heart, mind, and soul:
· I agree to Love Afrikan people under ALL circumstances and conditions -- no matter their location, status, deeds, or what they may call themselves.
· I agree to Support Afrikan people under ALL circumstances and conditions -- no matter their location, status, deeds, or what they may call themselves.
· I agree to Protect Afrikan people under ALL circumstances and conditions -- no matter their location, status, deeds, or what they may call themselves.
· I agree to work towards bringing political and cultural independence and land to our people wherever we are found.
By signing below, I promise to carry out the Harambee Movement with all of my heart, mind, and soul.
Print Name:____________________________________________
You Represent:_________________________________________

Beyond the Speeches and Tears in Inglewood

The Inglewood Police shooting of Marcus Smith was indeed a tragic event. Our condolences go out to his family who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Whatever the circumstances behind the incident, we all must admit that the law enforcement agencies throughout Los Angeles County have a long history of shooting, beating, and killing Black and Latino people who are often unarmed, vulnerable, and defenseless. In this respect, Inglewood Police Department is not unique or an isolated example of racist policing.
However, we must also acknowledge that the masses of our community – for better or worse – still depend on the Police for protection. In fact, many of our folks want more police patrols, timely responses by the police when called, and increased police presence at community meetings. Some of our activists even get funding from police departments or law enforcement-related agencies. In short, getting the community’s support around substantive plans to reform policing is a daunting, yet essential tasks.
However, as organizers, we must put clear tangible ideas out before the people. Even if people don’t agree. Not just speeches and empty rhetoric. This is not to disrespect anyone's work, but our people deserve more!
For instance, the Police Chief in Inglewood has the final authority to fire an officer. As organizers we must ask the people, “Should this be so?” In order for a police officer to be tried and sentenced for murdering an unarmed person the District Attorney office must file charges and put together a good case. Unfortunately, the DA office share a comrade relationship with local law enforcement. As organizers, we must expose this contradiction and ask the people “Should this be so?” All law enforcement officers in the state of California receive tremendous protections from the California Police Bill of Rights. These set of rights make it difficult to fire or otherwise discipline an officer who has a track record of abuse and misconduct. As organizers, we must ask the people “Should this be so?”
Instead of generic calls for JUSTICE, we must demand that:
· The DA Office must be more aggressive in prosecuting police officers who commit murder and abuse. If not, we should create a special prosecutor office that will.
· Community boards must be created that gives taxpayers power to hold officers who are paid by their tax dollars accountable to the fullest extent. In Inglewood, they have a Citizens Oversight Commission that has no real power or authority to effect change in policy, procedure, or personnel.
· The Police Bill of Rights must be eliminated. Police officers should be equal under the law – not above it.
I recognize that Black and Latino are not just killed by law enforcement. However, nothing is more tragic that having a loved one murdered by someone who is shielded by the law, keeps their job, and never goes to jail. This is what happens basically everytime someone is killed by law enforcement officers.

The Politics of LAPD Crime Stats

Since becoming LAPD Chief in 2002, William Bratton has tried to convince Angelinos that the Police Department is significantly reformed and more humane.
While many people – especially Black and Latino residents – are not yet ready to nominate the LAPD for a Nobel Peace Prize for racial justice, even some of its most ardent critics are becoming increasingly friendly with Chief Bratton and the work of his nearly 10,000 officers.
One huge reason for this shift in opinion is the reported decline in violent crimes throughout the City.
When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa campaigned for re-election, he flooded the airwaves and television spots with claims that crime had dropped by historic amounts under his watch. Even Jack Weiss, City Councilman and candidate for City Attorney, attempted to claim partial credit. As chair of the Public Safety Committee, Weiss put forth that he worked closely with law enforcement to drastically decrease the amount of shootings and robberies.
However, it was Chief Bratton, a very skilled communicator, who took things a step further by stating that crime in Los Angeles is the lowest its been since the 1950s.
For residents in areas like South Los Angeles, which has suffered through decades of violence from gangs and the LAPD, even a modest drop in crime is greeted with guarded optimism. Currently, the news of crime at 1950s levels is received with glimpses of hope and exuberance. This has provoked a noticeable shift in attitudes towards a department once led by polarizing figures like William Parker and Darryl Gates. Neighborhoods that have long been victimized by racial profiling, Rodney King-style beatings, and police shootings of unarmed human beings, now eagerly want to believe Chief Bratton’s assertion that the LAPD is reformed and more humane.
Unfortunately, there is a strong possibility that the people’s increased trust in the LAPD is based upon lies and deception. As a recent LA Weekly article reports, Chief Bratton’s comparison of crime from 1950s to the present day was extremely flawed. If he had done so correctly, we all would see that the current murder rate is double that of 50 years ago. Using the same method, today’s robbery rate is more than double that of 1956. This same pattern continues for rapes and other serious crimes.
Instead of giving praise to the LAPD or City politicians, much credit should be given to the heroic work of regular people like those in the Hyde Park section of South Los Angeles. With very little to no assistance from the LAPD, residents work together to improve the quality of life in their community through organizations like block clubs and neighborhood councils. While crime rates are still much higher in South Los Angeles than other parts of the city, the efforts of its residents represent genuine attempts at taking control of their communities and day-to-day lives.
So what is the motivation for Chief Bratton to manipulate crime stats?
One, it gets political allies like Mayor Antonio Villaragoisa and Jack Weiss elected to higher offices. Two, LAPD gets rewarded with a larger budget, more officers, and greater political power. Lastly, it encourages Black and Latino voters – who make up a large portion of the electorate – to forget about the LAPD shooting of unarmed people of color like Dontaze Storey Jr. and Susie Peña, the $30 million in LAPD-related lawsuits paid out in February, or the fact that it is still practically impossible for a LAPD officer to go to jail or get fired because murder or misconduct.
Residents and taxpayers of Los Angeles need to look beyond the commercials and press conference sound bites. William Bratton – chief of the Los Angeles Police Department - is first and foremost a politician. In light of this, we must continue to organize residents and engage them on solutions such as eliminating the undemocratic LAPD Board of Rights, developing a special prosecutors office that will work to bring justice to those victimized by police misconduct, brutality or worse, and creating an elected citizen control board that will provide community-based accountability in regards to discipline, hiring, and training.