When the City Council’s Public Safety Committee considers community organization applications for the city’s Police Oversight Commission at 4 p.m. Wednesday, the committee will have a chance to work toward two of the goals of the City Council: appoint a commission made up by a majority of women, and appoint local residents from groups that have been impacted by the police.
According to applications posted on the committee’s web page, six of the 13 applicants are Black women, one is a Latina, one is a Black man and one is an Armenian American woman.
Three applicants are white men and one white woman has applied.
According to a study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Black Americans are 3.23 times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police. The researchers looked at 5,494 police-related deaths in the U.S. between 2013 and 2017. Rates of deadly police encounters were higher in the West and South than in the Midwest and Northeast, according to the study.
“I think it is very important, more than ever, that this first Police Oversight Commission include Black and Hispanic women’s voices,” said Florence Annang, who is being sponsored for a seat in the committee by the Pasadena NAACP.
“We are in the trenches in our communities and political spaces having conversations, building bridges of communication and restorative practices that are inclusive, all the while being the place where the raw reality of police brutality and violence lands and affects such suffering in our hearts as mothers, wives, aunties and neighbors we are not standing for hoods but fighting and demanding justice for neighborhoods all over the city,” Annang said.
“As women of color, the village concept of community plus our expertise and experience in our field is what brings and should allow us many seats at the table,” she said.
Besides Annang, Alexis Abernathy of the Pasadena-Altadena Chapter of Links, Joshua Cowing of the Salvation Army, Cynthia Kirby of Union Station, Brandon Kruhn of Westridge School, Patrice Marshall Mckenzie of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Gloria Oduyoye of the Oduyoye Institute for Fair Police Reporting, former PUSD Board Member Mikala Rahn of Learning Works, Jasmine Richards of Black Lives Matters, Kenneth Rotter representing San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center, Juliana Serrano of All Saints Church, Curtis Silvers Jr. of the Brotherhood Crusade, Shoghig Yeprmian of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) have applied for the three community organization positions on the commission.
The applications will be carefully and thoughtfully reviewed by the Public Safety Committee at Wednesday’s committee meeting. My hope is a recommendation will be crafted and made to the full city council following the meeting,” said Mayor Victor Gordo.
Local residents have called for citizen oversight of the police department since the ear;y 1990s. After the commission is in place, Pasadena will have more oversight and advisory bodies related to its Police Department than most other departments.
“The creation of the Police Oversight Commission is important as a first opportunity for voices from and about Pasadena’s minority neighborhoods to have an authorized civic voice on how they experience the police and how they hope to change some of that,” said local activist Kris Ockershauser.
The committee will send its recommendations to the City Council for approval next week. The council will have the option of approving the recommendation or other applicants from the field.