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Opinion | Did You Know? Baltimore, South Carolina, Ferguson, Pasadena: Are We at War?

Published on Sunday, May 10, 2015 | 3:26 pm
Martin A. Gordon

Monday, May 4 at City Council was a most interesting event during public comment. The CICOPP advocacy group and individuals articulated the need for community oversight of the Police Department and that its time was overdue. It was mentioned that three staff members of the city of Pasadena have read the McDade report in its entirety: Chief Sanchez, Michael Beck and City Attorney Michelle Bagneris, all of whom in finality report to the Mayor and City Council. Wait a minute! In what reality does my subordinate get to see the results of a report commissioned by the city of Pasadena and I am denied access to the full report! How can the City Council ask the community to be patient on the issue of community oversight when they are not even in the loop on the most recent report on improprieties involving the Police Dept.?

It appears that the City Council is resigned to the fact that Michael Beck runs the city where the Police are concerned and they have no right to review the Kendrec McDade report. This misguided shirking of the responsibility by the city council to advocate on the part of the people is ludicrous. The same confidentially that was required of Sanchez, Beck and Bagneris, would be afforded to the City Council. Councilperson Steve Madison and Jacque Robinson often stated that the oversight provided by the Public Safety Committee was all that is needed for oversight in Pasadena. Again, the reality is that the Public Safety Committee (part of the Council) is at an absolute loss for words on the Kendric McDade report and what changes may continue to be necessary post Leroy Barnes and Kendric McDade. It appears its only function related to oversight is a rubber stamp of Sanchez’s reports. The devil is in the details. City Council dropped the ball. They have become a spectator in the McDade report fiasco and have left advocacy to the community which is part of our elected officials’ job. Come on City Council stand up and be counted for our community!

As we look out and see this epidemic of killing our black men we are reminded that this is just one of a myriad of tactics used by the powers that be to destroy the black man and the black community. Michelle Alexander’s book about mass incarceration hits home and articulates the devastating effect it has had on our communities: the “New Jim Crow”!

We are not Baltimore, New York, South Carolina, Ferguson or …but, we face the same struggles and dilemmas as these major cities. As Pasadenans we must embrace the nationwide movement of Black Lives Matter. This is not just about Pasadena! It is about the epidemic that is running rampant throughout this country. We must go back to our roots! We must make the indiscriminate killing of our people a national problem and push to create local, state and federal legislation that has teeth and says to cities, police and communities we will not tolerate this injustice anymore. There will be consequences.

Never would I advocate violence. I do, however, understand when communities of color see injustice, see that those perpetrating that injustice can do so with impunity, that they explode and reach out to mete out justice in the way they have learned from the police who are killing them: Violence!

I find it refreshing that the Crips and Bloods in Baltimore formed a truce and stated that they were going back to their roots. As for those of you who study history know some of these entities were originally established to be a catalyst for positive change in our communities. The fact that they stepped up to protect their community is a significant step forward. Watch out. If you educate that group to serve the community, what will happen to all of that federal gang money going to police departments across the country? The Powers that BE will not allow the truce to continue. Think about it: millions of dollar for gang prevention lost. In fact, almost immediately a news story was released alleging a credible threat against police officers to justify the militarist presence in Baltimore. No accident!

This morning Hilary Clinton stated: the legal system is stacked against the most vulnerable population. She suggest that it is time to overhaul the entire criminal justice system and stop making being a person of color a license to be incarcerated or killed. Wow, Hilary! Will they ever make you President with statements like that? She further stated that body cameras should become a mandate not an option and that the federal government should provide incentives with some kind of matching funding for those who comply; food for thought?

Believe it or not, I believe in increasing the number of officers in the police force in Pasadena. But, it must be done with the idea of real community policing, where the officers on the street really do know the communities they work in and hopefully live in. It makes a difference. When one of our recently retired Pasadena Police officers hits the street in our community everyone knows who he is and that he will tell your mama (or daddy) about what you are doing wrong in our community (or right). And if you go to far you will be subject to arrest. That is a different dynamic than what we have today, but we can get there.

We must have respect and appreciation for the law, but, the converse is also true, we must be respected and appreciated. You usually get what you give. The police and the community can have a truce that can lead to a permanent paradigm shift in how we interact with each other.

The real question is … are we ready as a community to make this happen?

I believe that Chief Sanchez and I would agree that poverty is a Weapon of Mass Destruction!

It is not just about the police, it is jobs, affordable housing, education, job training and economic equity. This is where we are at war.

Let’s fight our real enemy. Poverty! Let’s do it together.

Did you know? If not, you better ask somebody!


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