It’s time for the city of Los Angeles to pay up for setting illegal curfews on its residents…and it’s going to pay BIG money.
As much as $30 million will settle the class-action lawsuit that blames the LAPD for setting curfews on residents as part of gang injunctions that were previously deemed unconstitutional as reported by the Los Angeles Times. Most of the money will go towards job training of former gang members and those who felt they had been illegally stripped of their freedom by the LAPD.
“This is taking an injustice that never should have happened and turning it into an opportunity to start over,” attorney Anne Richardson told the newspaper.
The 2011 lawsuit was filed after Christian Rodriguez was arrested while living in the Mar Vista Gardens housing projects, within the territory of the Culver City Gang Boys. Here’s the thing, Rodriguez is not a gang member and does not associate with any gangs. Yet, he was still arrested for violating the 10 p.m. curfew in 2009, two years after these types of curfews were said to be illegal.
“Because I was wrongly labeled as a gang member, I couldn’t even be outside helping my mom with the groceries at night,” Rodriguez stated. “I got involved in this case to help others who like me, did nothing wrong but unjustly live in constant fear of doing something that might be perceived by a member of LAPD as a violation. I want my 2-year-old daughter to grow up without that fear.”
Days of protests and civil unrest have rocked Los Angeles and other major American cities. People are angry that police have continued to kill unarmed Black people with little impunity. George Floyd’s death reignited that anger and that hurt that has been bubbling for years. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a $150 million budget cut from LAPD but the numbers suggest the gesture is far from enough.
People across the country are protesting against the police brutality that has become commonplace in the U.S.
The above tweet lays out around 200 videos showing the blatant use of excessive force against peaceful protesters by various police departments across the nation. The videos show protesters with hands up chanting things like “This is what democracy looks like” before police officers fire rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds. There have been GoFundMe accounts set up to help protesters who have been maimed by rubber bullets pay for their medical bills after losing their eyes or being shot in the face.
The unrest has left governors, mayors, and the president of the United States unsettled and they are beginning to deliver on protesters’ demands.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti held a press conference Wednesday evening announcing changes to policing practices. LAPD has been criticized throughout the Black Lives Matter protests of excessive force against peaceful protesters demanding justice.
Some of the changes to LAPD announced by Mayor Garcetti include a moratorium on adding names to CalGang, hiring an independent prosecutor to prosecute police officers accused of misconduct, and cutting $100 to $150 million from the LAPD budget to reinvest into Black communities.
LAPD currently uses $1.86 billion of the city’s allocated budget.
LA’s annual budget is $10.5 billion meaning that LAPD makes up almost 18 percent of the total allocated budget. However, LAPD eats up 54 percent of LA’s “unrestricted” general funds revenue. The “unrestricted” general funds revenue is created through taxes that have not been earmarked for specific projects voted on by LA residents. According to the LA Times, the “unrestricted” general funds revenue boosts LAPD’s total annual budget from LA to $3 billion.
LAPD was set to receive an increase of more than $120 million to the budget.
The budget was approved by default because the City Council failed to vote on the matter by the deadline. The budget is set to go into effect on July 1st. The increase to the LAPD budget comes at a time when every other department in the LA government is taking budget cuts due to deficits.
The announcement by Mayor Garcetti is facing criticism because it isn’t enough for the protesters. The budget slashes to LAPD are in reality the city council and mayor’s office not allowing for the approved budget increase to take effect for LAPD.
People in favor of cutting the LAPD budget to reinvest in communities of color are pointing out that a lot of money goes to LAPD to pay settlements.
LAPD has had to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements from lawsuits against the department. An LA Times analysis found that in 2017, LAPD paid more than $200 million in total legal costs, less than the proposed budget cuts announced by Mayor Garcetti.
The People’s Budget 2020-2021 has gained more popularity as people have taken to the streets to protest against the police. The People’s Budget took a look at the “unrestricted” general funds revenue and reallocated the money to programs and needs of the city. Under the People’s Budget, which was worked on by 10,000 people, LAPD would receive 5.7 percent of the funds as opposed to the 54 percent they currently receive.
At the beginning of 2019, Empire actor Jussie Smollett famously reported that he had been the victim of a hate crime. About three weeks later, Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report—it had been discovered that the attack was staged, and that Smollett himself had planned the whole thing. Although the charges against Smollett were dropped, he was all over headlines last year, earning a national reputation as a liar and ultimately being fired from his role on Empire.
In August of 2019, a similar situation arose within the Los Angeles Police Department, when a sheriff’s deputy falsely claimed that he was shot by a sniper outside the Lancaster police station. After days of searching for the alleged gunman, it became clear that Angel Reinosa had fabricated his story. He had not been shot, after all—instead, he had used a knife to create fake bullet wounds in his uniform, asserting that his bulletproof vest had saved his life.
“There were many things that didn’t add up,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener. No bullets had been recovered from the scene, and they had no leads on a suspect—they searched a nearby apartment building, assuming that the shooter was inside, but of course they found nothing.
But this didn’t exactly surprise investigators and colleagues, who were suspicious of Reinosa’s story from the very beginning. A number of sheriff’s officials told the LA Times that “his radio call about the incident was too calm even for a veteran, a hole in his shirt too big for the minor wound he claimed to have suffered.”
The LA Times also reported that by the end of the day that Reinosa made the report, the search for the suspected gunman had been halted. Homicide detectives, assisted by forensic experts, instead turned their attention to Reinosa. And by 9:30 PM, Reinosa’s involvement in the case was considered highly suspect. Not long after, he admitted to the police that he had fabricated the incident, though he didn’t reveal his motives for doing so.
In the case of Jussie Smollett, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a press conference that the motive for feigning the hate crime was fiscal in nature. He claimed that “Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career, because he was dissatisfied with his salary.” Folks have speculated that Reinosa’s situation was rather similar—it had to do with a certain dissatisfaction at work.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said that sheriff’s officials had divulged details about Reinosa’s difficulties with his first year in the field. Typically, the first year constitutes a probationary training period that all deputies must complete before becoming deputies, and Reinosa was struggling to keep up.
“He was not advancing through the training program at an adequate pace,” Parris said. “There had been a lot of attention on him.”
And just a few days ago, Reinosa was taken into police custody when he was served an arrest warrant during a traffic stop. He was arrested for insurance fraud and for filing a false police report, and he was transferred to Los Angeles County Jail. His bail was set at $40,000, and unlike Smollett, Reinosa was not able to immediately settle his case with a payment.
Authorities say that the charges of insurance fraud are related to the workers comp claims Reinosa made after the incident. If he is convicted of these charges, he could face up to five and a half years in county jail.
As soon as authorities discovered that the shooting had been a hoax, they called an 11 PM press conference to address the situation. In an interview, Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed the desire to ensure that Reinosa’s actions were met with what they deemed the appropriate legal response.
“We are all appalled and disappointed. We took the deputy at his word at first,” Villanueva said. “We intend to hold the individual responsible for breaking the law and most importantly for betraying the community.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by authorities in Smollett’s case, as well as Smollett’s fellow Empire cast members. Lee Daniels, the creator of Empire, referred to the “pain and anger and sadness and frustration” that he and his cast endured, adding that he and his team “really [didn’t] know how to deal with it.”
He also said that Empire “was made to bring America together” and to “talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets”—a message that was in direct contrast with Smollett’s actions.
The Lancaster sheriff’s website expressed a similar sense of disappointment, yet also emphasized the importance of community in situations like these:
“We are saddened by the outcome of the investigation, but are so grateful to our community for their cooperation on Wednesday and your ongoing support everyday. The actions of one individual are not indicative of who Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Deputies are.”
Share this story with all of your friends by tapping our little share buttons below!