What are the police for? Are they to protect us by enforcing the law or is their purpose to be everybody’s best friend? According to Civil Rights lawyer Connie Rice, when they encounter the Michael Browns of the world they should say to themselves, “I’m here to protect this child, not to arrest this child”. The “child” in this case being 6’4’, nearly 300 pounds.
Congresswoman Karen Bass’s Townhall this Saturday was devoted to discussing what is wrong with the police. (Congresswoman Bass is always so happy to see me, we are becoming BFF’s). This Townhall was held in the Ward AME Church. I notice unlike Townhalls I’ve attended, given by other members of Congress, Rep. Bass never starts hers with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Rep. Bass began her Townhall by telling us she spent Martin Luther King day in Ferguson, Missouri. She said it didn’t look like the Department of Justice was going to bring any charges against Officer Wilson (to which there was a very negative reaction from the audience) but she is still certain there is “institutional racism” through out this country, especially in police departments. She said she went to the location where Michael Brown was killed. She said it was just a small neighborhood street where you might expect to see a baseball game being played. Really? I don’t recall seeing kids play baseball in the streets. Actually, these days, someone will call Child Protective Services if you let your child walk home from a park…..but I digress. She couldn’t understand what the police were doing there in the first place or what was wrong with Michael Brown walking down the middle of the street. She conveniently neglected to mention he had just robbed a store.
Rep. Bass then introduced State Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, President of the Black Caucus. He is a member of the “Justice Reinvestment Committee”, whatever that means. I’m not sure how you “reinvest” justice. He bragged that the Chair of the Budget Committee and three of the five members were Black and because of that he could guarantee there would be a “Poverty Budget” this year (to enthusiastic applause). “Poverty Budget”? Jones-Sawyer said his district, AD 59, was the poorest in the state. It is also Congresswoman Bass’s district. I think that begs the question, if they represent this district, who is responsible for it being the poorest? This district has been represented by Liberals for decades. When do they accept their policies don’t work?
Jones-Sawyer mentioned that it costs California $57,000 per prisoner per year (Note: Texas spends about $14,000). He says we need to invest that money in people not jails. He said they decide how many jails to build based on how many people can’t read above a 3rd grade level. There is never any discussion about why so many can’t read above 3rd grade level. The only solution they seem to come up with is more money spent on more programs that never need to show results.
Next Rep. Bass introduced Civil Rights Attorney, Connie Rice. She was supposed to speak ten or fifteen minutes, however, Ms. Rice spoke nearly an hour about herself, how wonderful she was and how much everyone loves her. Karen Bass nearly had to wrestle the microphone from her to get her to stop.
Ms. Rice began by telling us she sued the LAPD nine times (to enthusiastic applause) and just loved doing it. She said the first time she met Chief Bratton she told him she was happy to meet him……and that she was going to sue him the next day. He replied (quite brilliantly, I believe) that she should join him to reform the department, not sue him. She was so honored he gave her an office at the police department (keep your enemies close). She then went on and on about how police should not arrest people for crimes she considered minor, that police should think in terms of helping people not arresting them. She talked about parents not being afraid their children will be killed on the way home. She said one weekend three of the people she represented lost a child. Two by gang shootings and one by the police. She didn’t say if the “children” were gang members or what the circumstances were. Did these “children” have pants on the ground and tattoos all over their bodies? Were they shooting at each other or the police?
She talked about a task force she trained that gave computers to all the children in the neighborhood. When did that become a function of the police? And why is every solution spending money and “giving” people things? She didn’t mention if this actually lowered the rate of crime in the area…..but they did like the police better.
As Ms. Rice continued to speak, Rep. Bass stood up and indicated they needed to move on but Rice would wave her away saying, “I’ll end with this story….”, ten minutes later, “I’ll wrap up by saying….”, another ten minutes later, “I want to tell you this story before I finish……”.
FINALLY, Rep. Bass opened the floor for questions. The first to speak was “Pastor Q”, a 40ish, nicely dressed Black man, who began by quoting Fredrick Douglass. “Power concedes nothing without demand”. He suggested the formation of a “Citizens Review Board” to oversee and control the police.
Michael Davis, a local high school student, wanted to reduce the number of police and “invest” in the community. I though it was admirable a high school student would attend such an event and express his opinion.
Pete White, a 30ish Black activist, said, “This is what we DO know, every 28 hours a Black man is killed by the police”. We do? I found conflicting numbers. USA Today reported the FBI says about two Blacks a week are killed by police. I couldn’t find an exact number but a little over 1000 people were killed in 2014. Which would mean more than twice that number of Whites are killed every 28 hours. Were they shooting at police? Were they threatening anyone? Why were they killed? He said there needs to be something done about “tribalism” in the police force.
I don’t know what you could do about “tribalism” or if you would want to. Men who put themselves in danger need to trust that their fellow officers have their backs. Without that trust the system falls apart. The bond men form in the police and military is necessary for their survival.
This Townhall was about justifying and ignoring breaking the law, bashing the police and promoting the idea that “institutional racism” exists.
Following the Townhall, there was a workshop organized “for people interested in learning about eligibility for sentencing appeals and early release under Proposition 47”.
What I find interesting, is that nothing is ever said about the civic responsibility of citizens. With freedom comes responsibility. There was nothing said about being responsible, obeying the law or respecting authority.