Black Lives Matter Los Angeles recently ramped up its fight against the failure to prosecute police officers who fatally shoot people of color.
On Tuesday, members are scheduled to host a forum to challenge Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who is Black, for failing to prosecute officers in a number of deadly civilian shootings.
The fight is important for several reasons: Lacey’s office has not brought charges against any officer involved in an on-duty shooting in more than 15 years. In Los Angeles County, more than 300 residents have been killed by cops or have died in police custody since Lacey was elected in 2012, the Compton Herald reported.
Lacey is also the first African American and woman to serve as district attorney in Los Angeles. She has declined to meet with BLMLA, activists said, despite more than 10,000 petitions urging her to prosecute officers involved in deadly shootings.
“Lacey is an elected official. No elected official should be able to escape meeting with or be allowed to refuse to meet with the community they’re elected by and ultimately responsible to,” Dr. Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles explained. “I told Lacey that Black Lives Matter was willing to work in a cooperative manner to address barriers that might be preventing her office from prosecuting officers involved in fatal shootings and she said she was not interested. As unpopular as the LAPD and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s are, even they hold community meetings. What makes her office exempt?”
A previous community meeting with Lacey ended on a bad note when the DA walked out in October 2016. A second meeting was brought up by Lacey, but she later changed her mind, Abdullah said. The district attorney only wanted to meet with families of police shooting victims, not BLMLA activists, she added.
BLMLA’s latest meeting comes as police brutality has been a prominent issue among community members. Fifty-three people were killed by police in LA County in 2017, according to Mapping Police Violence.
Lacey has a lengthy record including various crime-stopping efforts. As founder and chair of the Criminal Justice Mental Health Project for Los Angeles County, she leads a “multidisciplinary group devoted to diverting people who are mentally ill out of the criminal justice system for nonviolent offenses,” according to her district attorney biography. As part of that effort, Lacey launched a plan within her office to “provide free training to first responders on how to safely de-escalate incidents involving people in a mental health crisis.”
Police shootings in Los Angeles, like in other places, show there is much more work to do. Combating police brutality will require many different groups and folks to work together.