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Free Us From the Chains (Once and for All)
By Councilmember Curren D. Price, Jr.
Published June 4, 2020

A demonstrator raises their fist as others gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

We have seen the face of racism, we have had to look deep into its soulless eyes and empty hearts for over 400 years. It rears its ugly head in cycles, recently in the cold-blooded murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

After living on this earth for six decades, the only thing that changes are the names and ages of the victims who succumb to acts of violence whether at the hands of police, vigilantes or simply living while being Black.

In the past it had been easier for the world to look the other way or brush these situations under the rug. But in the age of social media, where videos can go viral instantaneously and cyberactivism connects the masses to the truth, society is no longer desensitized

to these heinous acts and anything short of JUSTICE, human dignity and concrete changes can not be tolerated any longer.

Over the last week, we have reached the tipping point of the effects that systematic racism, police brutality and long standing oppression have had on us. This moment is eerily familiar to when I learned that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated on April 4, 1968. As the first Black student body president at Morningside High School in Inglewood, I refused to let the movement die with him so I organized a rally in the auditorium where we mourned with the world and made a promise to carry out his mission. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others have paid the ultimate price for the greater good in the long struggle for civil rights and human rights. Together, they sparked an everlasting change that is still felt in the Black community today. Here we are again, decades later, at a monumental moment in our history and on the precipice of another impending breakthrough being led by our collective force of people from all walks of life and every color of the rainbow.

I stand with the millions of demonstrators from New York to Los Angeles, the UK to the Middle East who are on their knees with us, crying out for the elimination of systemic racism and our right to breathe. I am extremely proud of the unwavering leadership that organizations

like Black Lives Matter have exhibited by galvanizing peaceful protests that confront racism head on with the ultimate goal to further advance racial equity and social justice for all.

While we have seen the very best of Angelenos during this revolutionary time, we have also seen a number of selfish opportunists attempting to hijack this moment through criminal acts. I do not condone this behavior as we experienced during the Watts Riots and the uprising in 1992, which erupted after the acquittal of the police officers responsible for the beating of Rodney King.

I do not agree with such tactics because in the end it is our communities that are forced to pick up the pieces that will take years to recover from. To this day, we still have some vacant lots in the Ninth District from the 1965 riots. All of the destruction and loss we are seeing now from restaurants, retailers and other businesses are impacting people’s jobs and their livelihoods. Many of whom live and are raising families in South LA. I want to be clear: demonstrating leads to progress, violence is counterproductive and will not shift the winds of change, it will only suffocate our efforts. Continue to exercise your constitutional rights but let’s be sure that our aspirational message isn’t lost in the noise.

Curren Price (File photo)

Just as importantly, we need to hold our police accountable. The unnecessary use of lethal force against our people will never be accepted. As many of us know from past experience, the deployment of the California Army National Guard soldiers into South Los Angeles was not popular then or now, whether the Commander in Chief likes it or not. Furthermore, the discussion of this action is forcing our older generations to relive the dehumanization felt with their arrival on our streets, and we do not need them at this time.

We are not driven by the old way of thinking, although what we are experiencing is not new, we have to move the country forward by changing the hearts and minds of Americans. In the 60s, Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”

These words still ring true today. I call for justice in the names of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the countless number of Black men and women that have broken free of the chains of slavery only to remain tied to the chains of discrimination. Each of us have the tools to protect the most vulnerable, bend the arc towards justice, and be the change our Black community needs. After centuries of unfounded prejudice, there is a new energy being felt throughout the air, healing the past and giving life to the future.

Still, after the dust settles, our communities will need more. We will need more policies in our favor, we will need leaders that believe in reform, visionary ideas and out-of-the box strategies that will propel us into a more inclusive and righteous society. This November and at every election, use your power to vote for officials that will lead with integrity, compassion, a new vision for America and they must hold everyone to the highest of standards.

I’m committed to working with the next generation of leaders and anyone else in the community who wants to build a more equal and thriving South LA. If you want to get a hold of me, please call my District Office at (323) 846-2651. We would love to hear from you.

Curren D. Price, Jr. was born and raised in the Los Angeles City Council District that he was elected to represent in 2013 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2017.  The 9th Council District includes South Los Angeles and some of the City’s most notable destinations, including the LA Convention Center, L.A. Live, Exposition Park, and the University of Southern California and Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. He serves as Chair of the Economic Development Committee and is assigned to the Budget and Finance, Planning and Land Use Management committees and the new Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Recovery and Neighborhood Investment, among others. 

 

 

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