Opinion: West Hollywood Must Answer the Call to Action for Racial Justice

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to press pool after a meeting with members of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 2, 2015. (Official White House by Chuck Kennedy)

Our city is experiencing roiling protests aimed at the injustice of police brutality and its intersection with systemic racism. According to Melina Abdullah, a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement, the activists chose West Hollywood along with other affluent Los Angeles neighborhoods to bring the rage to our faces.  

Let me be clear, the looting and property damage that used peaceful protesters as a vehicle for greed and mayhem is deplorable.  Hard-working and honorable community members absorbed vicious damage by criminals intent on hijacking the peaceful movement for justice.  Nevertheless, the peaceful protesters deserve to be heard and not have criminals and anarchists co-opt the protestors’ impassioned call to action.

West Hollywood must answer the call.  Some may question if racial justice is relevant for a city that has a disproportionately low population of racial minorities compared to greater Los Angeles.  It is. The city smartly markets itself as the heart of Los Angeles, which beautifully illustrates our values of equality, progressivism, and love as well as a nod to our extraordinary geography.  We enjoy a robust economy that is supported by a diverse workforce and consumer base.  Our entertainment, hospitality, retail, and other pulsating business sectors are not monochromatic – and are largely rooted in the contributions of diverse cultures. There are risks of avoiding the call to action – and it is not limited to traffic jams.  The risk is moral bankruptcy, which will erode our capacity to flourish.  West Hollywood must join this movement.

I joined the city’s public safety commission in 2015, in part due to my extreme concern with the murder of  Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The lack of systemic changes across the country shocked me. I was confident that West Hollywood could be a source of inspiration for a society in need of healing.  On the Commission, my goal was for the city and county to implement President Obama’s Task Force for 21st Century Policing, and its many recommendations compiled after the Ferguson unrest.  West Hollywood’s strong moral core places us at the forefront of the LGBT, women’s, animal, and environmental rights movements.  I remain confident we can answer the call.

We can join the movement to eradicate systemic racism.  We can encourage our city and county leaders to implement the Task Force for 21st Century Policing.  We do not have to stop there.  There are other ideas offered up by the Police Use of Force Project and Campaign Zero such as 8 Can’t Wait to address police violence. Addressing police violence may not seem relevant or urgent to our community but it answers the call.

We do not have to stop there. Let us further examine other ways to eradicate the pernicious evil of systemic racism within our society and show the world what it means to be the heart of Los Angeles. We must join this movement.

Let your voice be heard at the upcoming Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission’s town hall this Thursday, June 11 at 6 pm.  Sign up for public comment by visiting https://coc.lacounty.gov.

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Bridget Baker
Bridget Baker
24 days ago

Thank you, Mr. Bazley!

Bridget Baker
Bridget Baker
1 month ago

Moral bankruptcy is alive and well in our fair city. Braggadocio and bribery prevail. Dogs , while I love them, should not be treated better than homeless human beings. And why are 95 % of the human beings in charge so, er, um, well, a bunch of old white guys? Answer the call, get involved. Do right by everyone, or get dissolved!

WeHoMikey
WeHoMikey
1 month ago
Reply to  Bridget Baker

We used to be a bunch of young white guys, but, well, you know…

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

Thanks Alex, you have issued a great challenge to all of us. As a member of the Public Safety Commission, perhaps you could instigate a conversation regarding how we do law enforcement in West Hollywood. We have not had a conversation concerning how West Hollywood could look at alternative forms of policing since 1992 when the West Hollywood Police Initiative was placed on the ballot. While I think our current captain, Ed Ramirez, is a treasure, the current Sheriff is an embarrassment and is no friend of reform. A public forum to hear ideas would be constructive; let a thousand… Read more »

Art
Art
1 month ago

This old white man says, “Well said!“ Now, ACTION!

hifi5000
hifi5000
1 month ago

West Hollywood needs to get onboard with the call to action by Mr. Bazley.This call is from a person in the know since he is very involved in local affairs.West Hollywood promotes itself as a “Creative City”.I am sure they are residents who can be “creative” and impediment these ideas and suggestions readily.

Larry Block
Larry Block
1 month ago

Thank you for writing this op-ed and putting your voice front and center, again. So often we sit at public safety meetings on which you used to serve and in our chamber meetings you are the only person of color at the table. If the commissions and appointments were fairer you would still be serving. —- almost ten years ago when I knocked on my neighbors door and asked him to write the language for term limits to get on the ballot it was with hope that somebody like you will step up and be the next generation of community… Read more »

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago

Bravo, Mr Bazley!
We indeed should.
The perception and the reality of WeHo are a study in contrasts. I often wonder about voter outreach when a council member is elected with 4,000 votes. Then I realized that is the only way the original & recycled cast of elected City Council members stay in power. Time for new blood, new faces, new ideas, and a more diverse economy.

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