“At the beginning of this week’s Board meeting we took a moment of silence in recognition of the tragic death of George Floyd and the persistent racialized violence against African-Americans. It’s fair to say, in the middle of a global pandemic of unprecedented scale and disproportionate impact on the health and well-being of African-Americans, the nation reckons with another.
“While the recent death of Mr. Floyd has awoken our nation’s collective conscience, this has been a moment long building toward that end. Last month, you know the name of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But before then, Ahmaud Aubrey in Brunswick, Georgia; Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky; Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio; Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida; Stephen Clark, Sacramento, CA; and Ryan Twyman, in Willowbrook, the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. And I could go on listing names.
“Such lawless acts of state violence should never be normalized, nor should discrimination and racial profiling of any kind. As we have seen in the papers and across our television screens nightly, people of every hue are angry, and in pain, and are marching for change. But after the pain, after the anger, what’s next?
“At the federal level, we see Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman, Karen Bass among others, is leading with Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a comprehensive package of federal reforms. I will bring in a motion to have us embrace that.
“In Sacramento, Assembly member Mike Gipson with AB 1196, is leading on legislation to ban chokeholds to change a culture of excessive force that seems to exist among some members of law enforcement without much contradiction. I hope that the Board will embrace that. I will bring a motion to that effect as well.
“I believe this moment has highly and rightly provoked a conversation around how we invest in community well-being and simultaneously reduce the harm caused by the agencies that are sworn to protect and serve us. It has provoked a conversation about how we expand alternatives to law enforcement, how we shift our approach to public safety so that we are yielding the greatest return for the lives of those in the same communities our officers are sworn to protect. We are inherently talking about our collective values and how we allocate our resources in support of these values. And in a time of fiscal austerity what has been and will be the return on investment on these resources?
“Programs that we have already created, that we have seen work are also areas where there is still a need for more funding and support. We still have unmet needs, such as:
- Alternatives to incarceration and diversion, including reducing contact with law enforcement, creating a community-based system of care and providing treatment rather than incarceration to those with serious clinical needs;
- Funding to carry out the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness, so that black people who are only 10 percent of the County population do not remain more than 33 percent of our homeless population;
- Scaling behavioral health centers, restorative care centers, and sobering centers – all approaches that put health and well-being over a public safety system response. And expanding parks, youth development programming, violence prevention, and more.
“Now is the moment to revisit and double down on our intention to invest in what we know works. In what we know will save lives and improve outcomes and make for better community. Dr. King said it and I believe: “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”
“And that is what this board does. It struggles with these issues. It thinks through these issues. It deliberates, it debates, and it acts. This is an opportunity for us to do all of that as we push for change – change that is systemic, that is lasting, that gets us to the root of these problems rather than dealing with it in a superficial manner – in a way that can rise to the moment we so desperately need.”