The City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Wednesday chose two community organization candidates that will be recommended to the City Council for placement on the city’s police oversight commission.
But they could not agree on a third member and instead agreed to send three additional names to the council.
Councilmembers Tyron Hampton, John Kennedy, Steve Madison and Mayor Victor Gordo unanimously agreed that Juliana Serrano and Florence Annang should be recommended to the City Council.
But the committee was equally impressed with Alexis Abernathy, Mikala Rahn and Patrice Marshall McKenzie and could not agree who should be the third recommendation.
Only three community organization applicants will be seated on the 11-member committee.
“We can all agree this may be the most important commission we have ever empaneled,” Madison said.
The duo was chosen from seven candidates who were given to speak to the committee and answer one question from each of the four committee members.
Serrano represents All Saints Church and Annang represents the NAACP.
“We must face the harsh reality that policing is not experienced the same way by all the people in Pasadena,” said Juliana Serrano, who addressed the committee first. Serrano was the sole Latina interviewed on Wednesday.
Abernathy represents Altadena Links, Marshall-McKenzie is representing Alpha Kappa Alpha and Rahn owns and operates Learning Works.
Rahn said the time was long overdue for community oversight.
“It is time for Pasadena to become a leader in community oversight and community policing,” Rahn said.
Marshall-McKenzie said it was important to bring people together.
“I want to give the Black women a voice who are often left alone to pick up the pieces of their lives when their families have been shattered by violence,” she said.
“I know how to bring people together, facilitate honest conversations, how to build consensus, and how to translate those ideas into action.”
The meeting started with seven candidates: Abernathy, Rahn, Marshall-McKenzie, Juliana Serrano, Kenneth Rotter, Florence Annang and Shoghig Yepremian.
The candidates drew lots to see who would speak first.
Kenneth Rotter of the LGBTQ Center pointed out that the city has no elected officials representing the LGBTQ community and pointed out that many LGBTQ people don’t trust and feel harassed by police.
“Please do not in terms of this community leave us behind,” said Rotter. “There is an element of fear in interacting with police and I don’t know how deep it goes.”
The City Council was scheduled to decide on the candidates on Monday.
The City Council reserves the right to reject all three candidates and return to the list of the original 13 community organization candidates.
Ironically, while the city was taking its biggest strides in seating an oversight commission, police and similar incidents around the country were grabbing headlines.
In Minnesota, Derek Chauvin – a former police officer – faces murder charges for placing his knee on the neck of George Floyd Black motorist for nearly 10 minutes. Meanwhile in the same state, a second police officer, Kim Potter was arrested in an unrelated case for shooting an unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright.
Potter claims she accidentally reached for her gun instead of her Taser when she fatally shot Wright. She was arrested and charged with second degree murder on Wednesday.
The shooting has led to four nights of unrest in Minnesota and once again put a spotlight on issues between police and Black men.
In South Carolina, Jonathan Pentland, 42, a white Army officer recorded accosting a Black man has been charged with assault.
Meanwhile, Chicago footage showing the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo is scheduled to be released Thursday. According to police, an officer discovered Toledo had a gun after a brief pursuit and shot him after ordering Toledo to drop the weapon.
During Wednesday’s meeting, each member was given five minutes to speak and answered several follow-up questions.
The 11-member commission was set up in October. The commission will be made up of the three community seats and the City Council and the mayor will choose the remaining seats.
According to the rule and regulations commissioners would be required to sign a confidentiality oath and take an oath before being sworn in.
More than 30 local residents spoke at Wednesday’s meeting.