Racial Reconciliation Report Letter to City Council: We demand the City of Long Beach hold its Police Department accountable 8/11/20

August 11, 2020

Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach City Council 
411 W. Ocean Blvd., 11th Floor 
Long Beach, CA 90802

RE: Agenda Item 14, Racial Reconciliation Report

Dear Mayor and Members of the City Council, 

While we acknowledge your effort to understand and address centuries of systemic racism, we find it necessary to remind you that police violence is the reason this “Framework for Reconciliation” was initiated. 

The Office of Equity’s introduction to the Framework, the Resolution that was unanimously adopted by the Long Beach City Council, and the Racial Equity and Reconciliation Report, each begin by citing the murder of George Floyd by four police officers in Minneapolis. The Report further acknowledges the persistent disparities in life expectancy, health, and economic outcomes for Black residents and people of color, demonstrating the impacts of historically racist policies and practices in Long Beach. This Initiative has since become a holistic approach to systemic racism, as it examines the intersections of government, education, public safety, housing, health, and economic equity. 

We appreciate that you are critically examining how the City of Long Beach has been complicit in affirming systemic racism, but community questions on “what we are reconciling,” and “with whom,” continue to linger. Our community’s collective grievances have been clear and again we remind you that this process of reconciliation began due to police violence. 

What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis, is no different than the killings of our own community members, at the hands of the Long Beach Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies: Tyler Woods, Hector Morejon, Danté Jordan, Feras Morad, Noel Aguilar, Carey Smith-Viramontez, Martin Hurtado, Barry Prak, Jason Conocenti, Doug Zerby, Lionel Gibson, Cezanne Mount, Kerry Michael Bounsom, Luis Ramirez, Jordan Michael Griffin, Catherine Gomez, Marcella Byrd, Ron Settles, and so many others. Moreover, the murder, which you also condemned, of Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes in Georgia, also happened in Long Beach. In July of 2018, here in Pan American Park, in a neighborhood where many law enforcement officers live, a suspected white supremacist vigilante killed a beloved father, grandfather, and uncle, Frederick Taft at a family gathering in the middle of the day.  Yet, LBPD failed to adequately investigate the murder, by their own admission, and has yet to condemn it. 

We are encouraging you to support this Reconciliation Initiative and demand the Long Beach Police Department undergo far more than the four-step process presented in the “Framework for Reconciliation.” For the City to truly achieve reconciliation, the Long Beach Police Department itself must acknowledge, listen, convene, catalyze and meaningfully address the structural harm, policies and practices. 

The public’s cry to “Defund LBPD” speaks to the overdue need for the city of Long Beach to work with its residents to “Re-Imagine” community safety and meet the basic needs of its communities.  There is basic work being held under the police department that does not belong to that department, such as youth, gang, crossing guards, quality of life, mental health and homelessness issues — that is work that belongs to other professions.  Defunding the department may consist of simply shifting that non-emergency work to the more appropriately fitting city departments (such as the move of crossing guards to public works) and to community groups who are not militarized and trained to kill, but who are licensed, certified, and trained in community care, trauma, and are culturally informed and better equipped to serve our residents.

We demand the City of Long Beach hold its Police Department accountable for the exorbitant costs they are incurring on behalf of the city, such as the officers who have all been involved in killing people like: Mathew Hernandez (who murdered Feras Morad), Jonathan Cole, John Fagan, Brian J. Green, Jason Kirk (involved in killing Juan Calderon, 2007 and John del Real, 2013), Craig M. Hazlewood, Rodolfo Rios, Jayson Torres, Berando Barajas, Justin Krueger, Benjamin Hearst, Vuong Nguyen, Daniel Martinez, Jeffrey Meyer,  Randall J. Beach, Ivan Garcia,  Bradley Muhlenkamp, Nicolas Becerra, Christopher Brammer (involved in killing Lionel Gibson),  Elieser Domingo (involved in killing Juan Avila, 2017 and Sinuon Pream, 2017, cost our city nearly $10M), Fernando Archuleta (involved in killing Lionel Gibson, 2016, cost $2M and shot Ronald Clark, 2017, cost us $200K), Jeffrey Shurtleff, Eric Barich, Victor Ortiz, Lorenzo J. Uribe, Salvador Alatorre (murdered Jason Conoscenti, 2014, cost us $2M, used excessive force on Perry Grays, 2018, cost us $380K and used excessive force on Ray Cash, 2018, cost $260K), in addition to the officers who are simply over using excessive force like: officers Eddie Sanchez, Bryan Passion, Sergio Ruvalcaba, and Francisco Vasquez.  And note how several of these officers are repeat offenders and still employed by the city of Long Beach.

The City of Long Beach has got to hold this police department accountable for the injustices they are responsible for, the racism they continue to perpetuate, and the violent offenses and brutalization they commit, and for the generational trauma historically plagued on our Black and Brown communities by the Long Beach police department.

- Black Lives Matter, LBC

See PDF letter.