A coalition of community leaders from Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and Build Power (BLD PRW) held a spirited press conference opposite the Hall of Justice Building. Protestors and community leaders gathered to show their strong demand that California Legislation pass bill SB-731, the Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act of 2020.
April 11, 2018—Kenneth Ross Jr., 25-years-old, was shot and killed by Gardena police. Officer Michael Robbins targeted Ross with an AR-15 assault rifle, in which killed Ross almost instantly. Police claim Ross was in possession of a firearm, however, police body cam footage that was uploaded online and reveal that Ross was unarmed and not posing any significant threat. Despite the fatalness, the district attorney has chosen not to prosecute Officer Robbins for Ross’ death, in which Robbins is still employed by law enforcement today.
Fouzia Almarou, the mother of Kenneth Ross Jr. vocalized her heartfelt emotions during the BLM gathering. She among many other mothers and fathers of the police violence victims all shared their grief and showed a powerful detest for the injustice their sons and daughters have faced. The families of John Horton, Christopher Deandre Mitchell, Eric Rivera, Jesse Romero, Anthony Vargas, Brandon Glenn, Daniel Hernandez, Mely Corado, and Vanessa Marquez gave emotionally charged speeches. All the names just previously mentioned were tragically killed by police.
Almarou exclaimed to the crowd the last moments of her son’s life, “What was my son doing? Nothing, but minding his fucking business!” Almarou continued, “Around 2:30 in the afternoon a bunch of cops got call of a disturbance in the neighborhood. He was by Rowley Park, and ended up running for his life. As he was running, he knew they wanted to murder him because this has been happening since 1619.” Almarou concluded her speech with, “We must stick together, all races must stick together and get rid of these white supremacist cops and get Jackie Lacey out of here!”
District Attorney Jackie Lacey and her office has received public backlash for the refusal of prosecution for Officer Robbins; as well as myriad list of police officers who have allegedly killed over 600 citizens in Los Angeles county. Valerie Rivera, the mother of Eric Rivera, 20 years-old, who was shot and killed by Los Angeles police for carrying a toy gun in 2018. Rivera stated, “There are thousands of killer cops on these streets because Jackie Lacey is allowing them to murder and get away with it!”
In a recent interview with Melina Abdullah, the co-founder of BLM-Los Angeles. Abdullah stressed the importance of the bill SB-731, the Kenneth Ross Jr. Desertification Act of 2020. She stated, “This [bill] will give us a mechanism to take [away] the badges of police who have abused our community members. If we had this in 2018, Michael Robbins would not have a badge that enabled him to kill Kenneth Ross because he had already shot 3 other people. We want to make sure there is a way for us to go around these district attorneys that are in bed with the police. The least we can do is fire the officers who have killed our people.”
The day of the press conference was somber, yet also celebratory because bill SB-731 was passed by the committee that day. But during the next two weeks state legislature will debate and come to a floor vote that will determine whether the bill will reach the governor’s desk for approval. According to BLM-Los Angeles co-founder, Abdullah, “[the governor] has already assured us that he will sign it, and so it will become law.”
The press conference concluded with supporters pulling out their devices to dial (916) 319-2063, which is the phoneline for California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Supporters were instructed to call this number and “tell Senator Rendon to advance bill SB-731 and continue to push for this bill.”
It is important to recognize the power within you and the power of a united persons. A power that can apply pressure for change. The BLM movement is now compelling change on a legislative level to implement more laws for impartiality. The bill SB-731 is a significant law to hold police officers accountable for their actions while on duty, whether just or unjust. Therefore, the fight continues for those who are no longer with us, and for those remaining family members who are in desperate need for justice. Whether it is voting, sending e-mails, writing letters, or calling the number listed above; let your voice be heard.