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Council Finally Selects Community Organization Police Oversight Commissioners

Serrano, Annang, Abernethy unanimously selected

Published on Monday, April 26, 2021 | 7:43 pm
The council unanimously selected Juliana Serrano, Florence Annang and Dr. Alexis Abernethy on Monday to be seated on the Police Oversight Commission.

[UPDATED] The City Council on Monday finally appointed three police oversight commissioners from community-based organizations.

The council unanimously selected Juliana Serrano, Florence Annang and Dr. Alexis Abernethy on Monday after five applicants made presentations to the council on Monday.

“We must be invested and make sure that members of our community are given dignity and respect. We recognize that does not happen for all members of our community and that must change,” said Serrano during her presentation.

Abernethy, who represents the Altadena/Pasadena chapter of The Links said the organization wanted to push for change.

“We want to contribute to transparency, accountability and contribute to a change in policing here in Pasadena,” Abernethy said.

All told, the commission will consist of 11 members, including one selected by each City Councilmember and Mayor Victor Gordo.

Those choices are expected to be made at next week’s meeting.

Annang and Serrano were unanimously recommended by the Public Safety Committee two weeks ago, but when the matter came to the City Council last week, four councilmembers said they wanted to hear from all of the applicants including those recommended by the PSC.

“Many people are wondering why the unanimous recommendations of the Public Safety Committee were not received immediately and instead opened up again,” said Erica Romero.

The council chose from five applicants, including Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Patrice Marshall McKenzie, Mikala Rhan of Learning Works.

Rahn, the only white applicant, did not shy away from her race, and pushed her credentials. The former Pasadena Unified School District board member runs Learning Works Charter School and works with students impacted by police encounters.

“This position will allow me to give back to the community I live in and work in,” said Mikala Rahn. “I am white but I have only worked for people of color for 15 years at Learning Works. When I go to court with my students I watch judges and lawyers look directly at me and overlook Black and Brown parents. It is embarrassing.”

The council’s vote comes as the nation continues to reel from officer involved incidents.

Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man shot and killed in Minneapolis when a police officer reportedly mistakenly grabbed her gun instead of her Taser and shot him.

Officer Kim Potter, who shot Wright, resigned on Tuesday. The Police Chief also resigned, Potter has been arrested and charged with second degree murder.

Last week, Pasadena residents joined the nation as they commended prosecutors for the murder conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin killed George Floyd during a traffic stop last year when he put his knee in Floyd’s neck for nine minutes.

That incident renewed the calls for oversight in Pasadena and moved the City Council to pass a local police oversight ordinance.

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