Human Relations Commission Update

LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley Human Relations Commission, a task force of community-based organizations, school administrators, religious leaders, and law enforcement aimed at facilitating the reporting and prosecuting of hate crimes in the AV, held its monthly meeting Monday. Several issues were discussed during the meeting. The following is a run down of some of the highlights of the meeting:

DOJ Investigation Update. President Darren Parker said several different organizations had met with the Department of Justice during the week of September 26th as part of the DOJ’s ongoing investigation into alleged discriminatory policing by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lancaster and Palmdale stations, as well as the separate ongoing investigation into alleged harassment and mistreatment of Section 8 recipients in the Antelope Valley. [Read more on that here]

The Sheriff’s Department was cooperating fully with the DOJ, said law enforcement officials.

“We’re giving them absolutely everything we have,” said Lt. David Oliva of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station. “We have dedicated people assigned for all the requests that they have, which are numerous and ever changing.”

Future town hall meeting set. On November 21, 2011, there will be a joint Town Hall and Human Relations Commission Meeting, Parker said. Guest speaker Diana Teran, from the County of Los Angeles Office of Independent Review, will field questions from the community. The meeting will also discuss the status of the DOJ investigation and community reaction to the recent deputy-involved shooting in Palmdale. The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at 1030 W. Ave. L-8, Lancaster.

‘I Hate Section 8’ Facebook Page, being investigated. Parker said the Commission is seeking information on the now shut down ‘I Hate Section 8’ Facebook page. He said several agencies are investigating and would like anyone with information that was copied from the page when it was up, to send the information to the Commission so it can forward it on to the Office of Independent Review for investigation.

Calls to the Hate Crime Hotline. Hotline Chair Andy Giest reported on calls reported to the Hate Crime Hotline since the last meeting on July 18, 2011. He said a call came in from a disabled lady in Palmdale claiming she and her son were harassed by Palmdale Sheriff’s deputies for taking a shopping cart belonging to a local store. She claimed she had an agreement with the manager of the store to take the shopping cart. She said deputies stopped her son, and when she complained, deputies pulled her arms behind her back and accused her of obstructing justice. She said she ended up having a seizure. Her case has since been referred to the Justice Department. Monday, Lt. Cory Kennedy of the Palmdale Station said the woman’s information was inaccurate. He said the son was wanted in San Bernardino on a $50,000 warrant, was in possession of narcotics, and was arrested for theft. He said the investigating officer called the store where the shopping cart came from and the manager said they didn’t give permission to anyone to take carts home. Lt. Kennedy said the lady was not arrested.

Citizen Complaint. Lancaster resident, David Abber, told the Human Relations Commission that he was seeking its help in obtaining justice. He said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris had attacked him in front of witnesses at a 24-hour Fitness Center.

“I’ve never heard of an elected official attacking a citizen like this and getting away with it,” said Abber. “The man [Parris] walked up to me in the gym, said f-you and shoved me on the glass at the gym. There’s video footage, but for some reason it doesn’t want to surface.”

Abber claimed he had met with Captain Robert Jonsen of the Lancaster Station in June, and Jonsen confirmed to him that battery had been committed against him when the mayor attacked him.

“It’s a matter of us prompting the DA to step forward, and if this body can help get that done I would be very appreciative,” Abber said. “When the mayor talks about making the streets safer, and he’s attacking citizens… well, let’s clean up our own backyard.”

Abber said the District Attorney had rejected his case, and he was hoping that the Human Relations Commission could help him obtain justice.

Parker asked Abber to put his testimony in writing so that the Commission could forward the complaint to the appropriate agency and track the complaint as it went through the channels.