By Mayor Eric Garcetti
One year ago, George Floyd was murdered before our eyes. For an excruciating nine minutes and 29 seconds of absolute horror, the world watched as a man who didn’t deserve to die gasped for his last breath.
Even if this were an isolated tragedy, afflicting a single family or community, we would still feel that righteous rage. But we know this didn’t happen in a vacuum. It came amidst the loss of too many — Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown — a list that could fill this entire column.
These were Black Americans who paid the ultimate price not due to a few so-called “bad apples,” but because of a system too often infected by racism, in our laws and law enforcement, our policies, our politics and our hearts.
We have to do better. And here in Los Angeles, we are trying to show what that means. We saw the powerful protests fill our streets last summer — and we acted to answer them with tangible steps to advance equity and reform.
From the start — even before we knew George Floyd’s name — our city understood that we couldn’t address generations of systemic inequity by tackling just one set of issues. This was, and is, a whole-of-society challenge, in need of a comprehensive response.
We began by reimagining public safety. Already, the Los Angeles Police Department required training in implicit bias and de-escalation, and L.A. was the first big city in America to place body cameras on every officer and release videos to the public.
Last July, we went further: banning all chokeholds in training and practice, and permanently discontinuing the use of the CalGangs Database to prevent abuses that disproportionately affect Black and brown men.
From there, we decided to establish a new Community Safety Partnership Bureau within our police department — knitting our nationally recognized model for community policing into the fabric of our entire police force. The idea is simple: trust is the cornerstone of effective policing and officers should get to know the communities they protect. Now, that will be the beating heart of LAPD’s approach.
Next, we looked at putting our money where our mouth is — literally — and examined how we can spend our public dollars more fairly. What emerged was the budget I just signed into law — a true justice budget — and embedded in every line item is a step toward racial equity.
In the year ahead, Los Angeles will dedicate nearly $1 billion toward solutions to homelessness and housing insecurity. We will fund the largest guaranteed basic income pilot in America — a remarkable tool to combat poverty, totalling $1,000 a month for 2,000 households for a year.
We will invest in a program called Reforms for Equity and Public Acknowledgement of Institutional Racism, or L.A. REPAIR, which will support efforts around community intervention, racial healing, and reconciliation.
We will refocus on our young people in every zip code. We’ll grow our Gang Reduction and Youth Development initiatives, doubling down on effective prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youth.
This summer, we’ll launch “Earn. Learn. Play.” — a one-stop shop for opportunities to work, study or have fun while school isn’t in session. And building on our past expansion of summer youth jobs, we’ll kick off a year-round Angeleno Corps, giving 400 students the chance to earn a paycheck giving back to their city, cleaning up our streets, connecting families to services, and more.
That only scratches the surface. All told, we are dedicating record amounts to the cause of advancing racial justice, spurring economic progress, empowering our youth and forging a stronger future.
In the name of George Floyd and those we’ve lost to this plague of systemic racism, our work for justice, for equality and opportunity for Black Angelenos and all communities of color, will march on.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Community Report” column runs monthly in The Wave.