LOS ANGELES – The Civilian Oversight Commission, a watchdog agency for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, resolved Thursday to hold the department accountable for using force and to join community members in enacting “real changes” within the criminal justice system.
“George Floyd didn’t deserve to die. His murder by a law enforcement officer in full view of the public is a horrific reminder of how this nation has collectively failed black people and other people of color time and time again,” a COC statement reads.
“With COVID-19 disproportionately affecting black and Latino communities, George Floyd’s killing underscores how far we have not come. While we are angered and mourn the death of George Floyd, we also remember the countless other men and women who have died and suffered because of an unjust system, including the many lives lost in Los Angeles County who have been killed because of illegal acts by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.”
The statement issued after the COC’s Thursday meeting recognized protesters’ grief, while seeming to condemn looters and drawing parallels with 1992 Los Angeles.
“Black Lives do matter; we recognize and embrace this. To those who are hurting, we hear you; we, too, are hurting. To those who are grieving, we are grieving with you. To those who are taking advantage of this pain and anguish, we condemn your actions and ask that you see the negative impact your actions are having on a cause that is worthy and just. It has been 30 years since Rodney King. Little has changed,” the statement reads.
The COC said a fundamental shift is required to eliminate inequality in all its forms, including social, economic and judicial disparities.
An ad hoc committee of the COC has been reviewing the department’s use-of-force policies long before Floyd’s death sent protesters to the streets, according to COC Executive Director Brian Williams. A final set of recommendations will be presented to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors within 30 days.
Williams said he sees an opportunity for meaningful change.
“We’re certainly hoping that this movement turns into action, and that this action turns into real, substantive change,” Williams said.
In its formal statement, the COC invited the entire community to engage alongside the commission in an effort to enact “real changes” within the criminal justice system on a sustained basis. In closing, the statement offered two quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere” and “Riots are the language of the unheard,” before telling protesters, “We hear you and commit to listen even more deeply and to act judiciously.”