From the moment Officer Randal Simmons was killed our office was inundated with calls and visits from LAPD officers who wanted his story told. They wanted the entire community to know just how good an officer, and a man Officer Simmons was.
We not only received calls from officers from LAPD, but several of the writers and other employees of the Sentinel also knew Officer Simmons. And everyone wanted to share their story of what a quality man he was.
While I was saddened at this brother’s tragic and senseless death, I was proud to pay tribute to him both in the excellent story Christine Sabathia wrote and in the headline positioning he received and deserved in last week’s paper. As several of us commented here at the Sentinel “LAPD finally got it right,” and Officer Simmons was the kind of officer who made it right.
Now fast forward to Friday, and Officer Simmons’ funeral. Imagine the discredit that LAPD did, not only to the Black press, but also to the memory of Officer Simmons, by not allowing a single African American photo journalist into the sanctuary. They did however, allow the L.A. Times and their own group of photographers (traditionally White) full access.
Once again LAPD has shown its disrespect for our community, even in a moment of paying tribute to a man of the highest moral character. A man who dedicated his life to uplifting and being the very best our community has to offer, we get disrespected. Even while the funeral is happening right in the heart of our community at Crenshaw Christian Center, while Pastor Frederick “K.C.” Price is opening up his doors to LAPD, and footing a large portion of the funeral bill, LAPD manages to screw up and screw over the Black press.
Now, I want to make it clear. Pastor Price had nothing to do with our or any other Black photo journalist not getting in. Neither did the family of Officer Simmons. This was an arbitrary and disrespectful decision made by the media relations department of LAPD. If they would have only let one photographer in, if Ian Foxx, Malcolm Ali or Valerie Goodloe would have been given access, then Black media would have been represented, but to let none in clearly states that they don’t care about Black media even if the very thought of excluding Black media is the very type of action that would have offended Officer Simmons and truly disgraced his memory.
Hopefully, LAPD will see this editorial and if they don’t a number of us will be calling a meeting with them, to help them see the error of their ways. But, like anything else, we will keep on keepin on. We will continue to tell the stories that are important to our community. And we continue to strive to pay tribute to the great people in our community who do the right thing like Officer Randal Simmons and the many other heroes and sheroes who serve our community (we just will keep running faster and jumping higher, because that’s just what we have to do).
So, whether you agree or disagree, now more than ever I really need your input. I need to hear from you today, tomorrow and in many weeks to come. I need to know what is going on in our community. I also need to know what other stories we need to tell, and what is on your mind. I really do want to hear from you, I want you to “Talk to Danny.”
Danny J. Bakewell, Jr.
President & Executive Editor