With the Civic Chambers closed yet again and punk band WACKO playing very fitting hardcore music, protesters outside announced a recall of Mayor Robert Garcia, while the Long Beach City Council discussed an open-street initiative, a law to ban chokeholds, new technology for the Long Beach Police Department and a new assistant city manager at its June 16 meeting.
Before voting began, Mayor Robert Garcia announced that two items were pulled from the June 16 agenda, including item 3, the agenda item from the LBPD requesting permission to destroy past documents.
Garcia also announced that the city attorney has called for a one-year moratorium on the destruction of these documents, which included records regarding use of force reviews, internal affairs complaint investigations and police compliance reviews.
The council voted to approve the rest of the calendar.
After weeks of not being able to call in, residents were allowed to call in to make limited telephonic comments on the agenda items.
Some of comments were complimentary, most were critical of Garcia and the rest of the council.
“In less than a month there have been over a dozen protests in Long Beach calling for the end of LBPD’s vicious brutality, many have attended in the thousands. I’m well aware that you have pulled today’s agenda item to destroy police records, but that does not wash the blood on your hands. I watched you approve the LBPD union contract last year that states it’s trying to circumvent SB1421 by letting the POA [Police Officers Association] block any record request. We are not fooled by the LBPD saying they will review the procedure of the records. You have approved LBPD destroying records on police misconduct for years, do not waste your time with weak reformism. The blood of those that LBPD brutalizes is on your hands and the people are angry. If you want to continue to take millions, hundreds of thousands to the POAs to protect violent cops, I suggested you instead resigns and save yourself the headache, we coming for y’all. You want to stay in office; defund LBPD and invest in the People’s Budget,” said Victor Bouzi.
Meanwhile outside, protesters had began to take the microphone as police began to emerge on the second floor from within City Hall and look down at what the crowd was doing.
“The mayor knows exactly why we’re here. He’s been hiding behind the front of being queer and Brown and slithered his way into office in Long Beach because that was the perfect thing for him to do for our area. And it’s worked it seems like, up until now. I don’t know no gay homies or any Brown or Black homies that f*** with Robert Garcia, and now his s*** is through, he’s out there hiding in his in his office,” said WACKO vocalist and guitarist Zaine Drayton.
Drayton continued,“The mayor is in full cohorts with the Long Beach Police Department. The police chief of Long Beach gets presidential wages. The police chief makes just as much fucking money as the president. What the fuck does that mean? I work at a f****** school, we don’t got s*** at that school, the educational resources for the kids at my school are outdated. They got mold on the walls and they paint that s*** over because there’s no money for education.”
Franklin Sims, an organizer of the event, formally announced that he, along with other members of the community, will begin the recall process of the mayor.
“There are over 250,000 registered voters in the city of Long Beach. In order for us to recall Mayor Garcia, we need 10% of that number. That means over 25,000 signatures from registered voters,” Sims said.
“That is our goal. We will be scrutinized. They will look at every name and every address to try and discredit us, and get us below that number, because they have invested millions of dollars into this man. He has the biggest investment in the city, not us. So they will attempt to discredit us and make that number fall below what we need, which means we have to go beyond the number,” he continued.
Sims stated the biggest problem was low voter turnout. The solution to this, he said, was to register to vote.
“This is going to be a process, because we have to have good signatures and registered voters.”
Sims then explained the first two steps in the process; getting 10 initial signatures, and writing a 200 word paragraph explaining why Mayor Garcia is unfit for office.
“For many of you that’s not difficult, that seems more like a character limit,” Sims said.
Garcia has been Mayor of Long Beach since 2014 and is currently in the middle of his second term. He is up for reelection for a third term in 2022, thanks to his infamously passed and controversial Measure BBB which eliminated the need to have to run as a write-in candidate and instead extended their term limits from two four-year terms to three four-year terms.
“We can get rid of the mayor, we can help to heal our city, fix our city, restore Long Beach,” said Sims.
He continued, “If we recall Mayor Garcia, then we send a message to every council member, that if you take money from people that brutalize us, then you will lose your job.”
“We’re going to recall the Mayor.”
Before the end of the protest, community member Ezra Leatherwood gave some words of encouragement to the community, which has been active in calling for the city officials to take action and defund LBPD for three weeks straight since the murder of George Floyd.
“I’m 30 now and I’ve never seen this much progress. I’ve seen the riots, I’ve seen the protests and I’ve seen things go back to normal, I’ve seen another death, and then it all repeats. But now we’re having conversations that we’ve never had before, about reinvesting in the community and looking at things really differently,” Leatherwood said.
“They’ll [LBPD] take a non-violent situation and turn it into death, and that’s not cool at all. I personally feel like, you know, we need unarmed police, except for a violent calls maybe, but everybody doesn’t need to be patrolling the streets with a gun, especially not any racists,” Leatherwood continued.
“You take a look at the nation, we’ve been putting our foot on the government’s neck, and it’s making a lot of racist people step out and show the true colors and there’s been a lot of lynchings going on. It may not seem connected, but it’s in every city across the nation, they all got something in common. There’s a certain underlying element that’s very unified and very corrupt,” Leatherwood said.
He continued, “Us coming out here and keeping our foot on their neck is obviously making an impact because we’re causing change in the United States, and they don’t like it very much so they’re acting up, they’re killing people in traffic.”
“Don’t let it die down and continue to come out and continue to put your foot on the necks because we’re at a pivotal point in order to get a chance,” ended Leatherwood.
The City Council voted to approve the appointment of Linda Tatum as the new assistant city manager.
Tom Modica, the city manager, stated that her role is vital to Long Beach.
“She has been fantastic here in the city and has had over 30 years of very diverse experience doing huge projects in the region,” said Modica.
Tatum thanked the mayor and the council for their support and praise.
Modica, the city manager has recently been given the task of drafting a resolution affirming the City’s commitment to adopting the “Framework for Reconciliation in Long Beach.”
Just this Monday, Modica announced five new leadership appointments including a new Deputy City Manager, Administrative Deputy City Manager, Director of Parks, Recreation and Marine, Director of Development Services and Deputy Director of Development Services.
The City Council approved a program that would shut down certain streets and neighborhoods through traffic to create space for outdoor activities.
According to Craig Beak, the director of Public Works, the temporary program’s purpose is to support the safer-at-home order and help increase activity for residents.
The program will provide activity by closing certain streets to allow residents to walk through the areas with enough space to social distance, or for restaurants to offer outdoor dining for customers.
“When we talk about these types of street closures, it would be closed to through traffic and available only to local traffic, so the residents that live within that street segment.” Beck said.
“We wouldn’t allow any permanent structures to be placed to ensure that there was safe access for emergency vehicles, but really it would become a safer activity zone for the residents living there.”
The council voted to lend support to a bill in the California State Assembly that would ban the use of carotid artery restraint tactics or “chokeholds,” on suspects by police officers.
Councilmember Al Austin supported the agenda item and stated he felt that the move was a “no brainer.”
“Under normal circumstances, an item like this will go through our state legislature committee,” said Austin. “But in light of the moment that we are in, I think it’s important for us, like many other police agencies […] across the state […] and Country to re-examine the use of force tactics by the police department.”
Austin also quoted a Los Angeles Times article stating that in a review of California Department of Justice records from 2016 to 2018, 103 people were injured from chokeholds.
Two people were killed, and 91 people were left unconscious. Additionally, African Americans made up 23 percent of the people injured, despite only making up 6.5 percent of the State’s population.
Assemblymember Mike Gipson introduced the assembly bill on June 8.
LBPD Reporting System
The City Council voted to award a contract to CentralSquare Technologies, LLC, to provide, implement and maintain a Police Records Management System (RMS.)
Lea Ericksen, the director of the Technology and Innovation Department, stated that the RMS is a critical component of the police force and that the police department needs a new system.
“The current RMS application has been in place since 2012,” said Ericksen. “The impetus to upgrade is twofold. First, the current RMS environment is running on aging technology that is reaching [the] end of life, and second, [the] new reporting mandate set forth by the US Department of Justice will go into place in January 2021.”
She continued by stating that new reporting standards require police departments to submit records on 52 different criminal offenses, compared to the previous nine different crimes.
Additionally, the program will allow the LBPD to streamline the recording process by eliminating the need for third-party applications.
Ericksen also stated that moving away from a paper-based system will make requests for public records easier than in the past.
The Long Beach City Council meetings are held on Tuesday, except for the last Tuesday of the month. Council meetings are held in council chambers in the civic center plaza, 411. W. Ocean Blvd. To watch this week’s city council meeting click here To view next week’s agenda, click here.