Carlos Gonzalez, a Latino math teacher from East L.A., was driving his new red mustang convertible when police officers pulled him over, handcuffed him, questioned him, and detained him'all without asking for his ID or explaining what he had done. After 25 minutes of personal terror and public humiliation, Gonzalez received a ticket for speeding'the first point during the ordeal at which the officer mentioned a traffic violation. Gonzalez was shaken by the incident and no longer drives his red mustang, which he traded in for a car less likely to attract the attention of police.

Bishop Leon Ralph, an African American former member of the California Assembly, was pulled over in Long Beach. The officer who pulled him over did not recognize the special government plates on his car. She drew her gun on the former legislator and accused him of defacing his plates. He was not accused of any traffic violation and received no ticket. The police officer allowed him to proceed when she learned of the government plates.

Timothy Campbell, an African American realtor and building contractor, was pulled over by police in Los Angeles. He was first accused of stealing his car, next accused of spray-painting anti-police graffiti on a wall nearby, then accused of speeding. When a supervising officer finally arrived at the scene, the speeding ticket was voided. Throughout the stop, which lasted over an hour, police used abusive language and threats.

Campbell complained'and didn't receive a response from the police for over a year.

Rolando Cuervo and a friend were driving in Monterey Park to the 7-11 for coffee. Police saw the two young Latino men and immediately made a u-turn, following them closely for several blocks. Finally, they were pulled over, detained, and subjected to a bizarre interrogation, which included questions about their employment status, their radio equipment, and their sexual orientation. The officer seemed certain that the two college friends were criminals. Rolando has written a letter of complaint and is still awaiting a response.

Gonzalez, Ralph, Campbell, and Cuervo were among a crowd of over two hundred people from throughout the Los Angeles region who gathered at First A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles on Monday, April 17, to describe their experiences of being stopped by law enforcement officers because of their race.

A panel including LAPD Chief Parks, Los Angeles City Council Members Nate Holden, Rita Walters, and Jackie Goldberg, Assemblymember Gloria Romero, and representatives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Department of Justice, listened for over two hours as town hall attendees told of being stopped because of their skin color. Speakers reported being held at gunpoint, being searched, being detained, and having their property searched against their will for no reason other than their race.

Dominique DiPrima of 92.3 The Beat was MC of the event, and attendees and panelists were asked to sign a letter of support for a racial profiling statistics bill, Senator Kevin Murray's SB 1389, which has twice passed the California Legislature, only to be vetoed first by Governor Wilson, then by Governor Davis.

The event was part of a series of statewide town halls focused on the issue of racial profiling in traffic stops, a statewide organizing effort which will include a lobby day to support SB 1389 on April 27, 2000.

The Los Angeles town hall was sponsored by the ACLU of Southern California, Los Angeles Urban League, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) , Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Los Angeles NAACP, Project Islamic Hope, Black Women's Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, Coalition Against Police Abuse, Pilipino Workers Center, Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, Community Coalition, National Lawyer's Guild, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, Gay and Lesbian Action Alliance, Southern California Criminal Justice Consortium.

Date

Tuesday, April 18, 2000 (All day)

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The Police Commission has assembled a well-respected group of people to conduct a review of the Los Angeles Police Department. Still, this falls far short of a truly independent commission.

The mayor and the city council have to take responsibility for ensuring that a truly independent investigation into the LAPD is undertaken. The only possible means to regain vital public trust in the police department is to create a truly independent panel that is not under the aegis of the Police Commission, and does not have to clear its recommendations and report through the Commission.

To be considered truly independent, the panel's autonomy from the Police Commission must be guaranteed. That means its report must be released directly to the public. A reporting structure that is vetted by the present Police Commission and its police department is not independent.

Limiting the investigation to the LAPD also falls far short. The independent body that Angelenos need and deserve should have a broad mandate to examine the entire criminal justice system, including the district attorney's office, the city attorney's office,

and a court system that appears in many cases to have lost its devotion to impartiality and justice.

It is also critical to set procedures in place to ensure that the independent commission's recommendations are implemented.

Date

Wednesday, April 12, 2000 (All day)

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Impartial investigators have determined that current Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) efforts to deal with gender discrimination and harassment problems are insufficient. Both sides in a major class action lawsuit agreed to the investigation. A report detailing the department's failures will be released to the public for the first time at a press conference tomorrow morning. Women's groups and other civil rights groups will call upon the LASD and County to undertake major structural reforms, including creation of an independent entity to handle complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

The Bouman v. Baca class action lawsuit instigated an intensive examination of the LASD, and the court appointed an expert to conduct a thorough review of the LASD's practices and policies. Attorneys for the county and the plaintiffs have jointly agreed to recommend the expert's findings to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

The report reveals a pattern of cultural practices that supports gender bias, from a "code of silence," to ineffective training about sexual harassment and gender discrimination, weak investigation of reported incidents, and insufficient discipline. It also reveals that the LASD has failed to remedy the problem for years, despite a longstanding court order in Bouman which requires it to do so'and despite having made nearly 200 specific commitments to change as recently as 1995. According to the report, "There is no evidence...of effective attempts to complete them (the recommendations) all or to evaluate their success or failure." (p. 11)

The report lists numerous serious deficiencies: "Among the most serious deficiencies noted in detail below are: a strong Department culture that is resistant to change and the notion of 'valuing diversity;' significant denial even among top-ranked officials the Department has a serious problem related to workplace equity; a tradition of mistakenly equating 'loyalty to the Department' as 'silence,' even in the face of discrimination and unfairness, as well as a tradition of punishing in illegal and potentially dangerous ways those who complain; and substantial cynicism among rank and file about the ability and intentions of the 'brass' to 'walk the walk' as regards workplace equality."

Chief among the recommendations of the report are the creation of an independent civilian Equity Oversight Commission, which would oversee a unit that would investigate and report on complaints of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. (p. 35)

"Women on the force continue to face discrimination and harassment'and the sheriff's department still hasn't fully come to grips with that fact. Women of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department have been telling us this for years'and they keep telling us about discrimination, because the changes have not yet arrived. This report tells us why, and shows us where we have to go next," said Penny Harrington of the National Center for Women & Policing. "We urge the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department: listen to the department's own employees. Pay attention to the expert evaluators who have once again confirmed women's experiences. And work with women's rights and civil rights groups to develop an oversight system which will ensure that women in the LASD are treated fairly and are valued for the contribution they make to law enforcement every single day. We can help you do that."

Civil rights groups, including the California Women's Law Center, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the Japanese American Citizens' League, the ACLU of Southern California, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, recently called upon the county to implement very similar reforms as the result of another lawsuit (Moriguchi v. County of Los Angeles). In a March 2, 2000 letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, these groups urged the county to set up an independent office outside of the Sheriff's Department, which would be empowered to review complaints of officer misconduct. See "Sheriff's Bias Review Panel Urged,"LA Times, 3/3/00. Civil rights groups made the request because a Japanese-American officer, Brian Moriguchi, and his girlfriend experienced illegal intimidation and harassment when he complained about racism in the department.

"Two hundred promises have been broken in the last five years," said ACLU Staff Attorney Dan Tokaji. "Does anyone still think the LASD can bring about the necessary changes without outside help? A culture of hostility to diversity still endures throughout the agency, and individuals who try to combat it sometimes face dangerous and illegal retaliation. An independent oversight structure is absolutely vital if we are to put an end to the 'code of silence' that has allowed discrimination to persist in the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. The time has come for the county to take action."

Date

Tuesday, March 28, 2000 (All day)

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