Pastor John E. Cager III speaks on behalf of the faith leaders, who gathered publicly at the Los Angeles Sentinel to denounce the alleged claims against Congresswoman Karen Bass on Wednesday, May 11. (Rickey Brown/L.A. Sentinel)


Major pillars in the faith community gathered at the Los Angeles Sentinel to denounce the alleged claims against Congresswoman Karen Bass on Wednesday, May 11.

The presidents of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles, Western Baptist State Convention, AME Ministerial Alliance, California Missionary Baptist State Convention and other faith leaders from across Los Angeles are calling for a retraction from the unionized group, Los Angeles Police Protective League, along with an apology, to improve “community-police relations.”

The union’s ad painted a picture that tied Bass to the USC allegations against former Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas. The ad illustrated their claim by alleging that she accepted $95,000 in free tuition for an online Master’s degree program at the USC School of Social Work while serving in Congress almost 10 years ago. However, Bass’ request to receive the tuition grant was approved by the House Committee on Ethics, according to Los Angeles Times.

Rev. Dr. Benjamin J. Hardwick of the Western Baptist State Convention and Rev. Wayne Gaddis of the California Missionary Baptist State Convention at the press conference. (Rickey Brown/L.A. Sentinel)

The unionized ad is 30-seconds long and valued at approximately $2 million to run across five major television networks. Los Angeles Times stated that Bass has moved forward with sending cease-and-desist letters to those media outlets on Tuesday, May 10.

Faith leaders in attendance included the Rev. Dr. Benjamin J. Hardwick, pastor of Praises of Zion Baptist Church and president of the Western Baptist State Convention; the Rev. K.W. Tulloss, pastor of Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California; the Rev. John E. Cager III, pastor of Ward AME Church and president of the AME Ministerial Alliance; the Rev. E. Wayne Gaddis, president of the California Missionary Baptist State Convention; and other ministers from across Los Angeles.

Looking at the actions made by the L.A. police union, the faith-based leaders shared the extent of the damage that this incident has done to the relationship between police and people of color within the collective community.

Pastor K.W. Tulloss of Weller St. Baptist Church and president of the Baptist Ministers Conference on Los Angeles and Southern California. (Rickey Brown/L.A. Sentinel)

The leaders emphasized the following points about the ad:


  • “Bad for the city – As crime ticks up in our city and all around the country, the Los Angeles Police Union should be focused on fighting crime, not fighting Karen Bass.


  • “Bad for community relations – Spending $2 million to attack a community leader like Karen Bass – someone who has spent her entire life fighting for us — will only hurt community-police relations.


  • “Bad timing – We are at a sensitive time for our city. How are police leaders responding? By attacking a public servant with deep ties in the community she has served for decades on the heels of a nationwide racial reckoning and the 30th anniversary of the Civil Unrest. LAPPL should be helping us move forward, not backward.”
Pastor Marvis Davis and Pastor Michael Eagle (Rickey Brown/L.A. Sentinel)

The faith leaders also questioned what benefit the union has to gain from mudslinging Bass, seeing how a key component of her campaign is dedicated to increasing and evolving the Los Angeles Police Department. Beyond running for mayor, Bass has been an advocate for building better relationships between law enforcement and citizens across the nation.

According to Spectrum News 1, she called for more LAPD patrols in light of speculation that Angelenos do not feel safe. Also, Bass’ public safety strategy calls for citizens to be hired to replace officers assigned to desk tasks, which allows more police to patrol the streets.

According to a recent report by LAPD Chief Michel Moore, the agency now has 9,521 sworn members, which is 185 fewer than the 9,706 sworn members allocated for the fiscal year.

Tulloss opened the press conference by stating, “We are here gathered together with faith community leaders across our city, denominational leaders in response to the $2 million ad by the L.A. police union and their attack against Congresswoman Karen Bass.”

He continued, “We are here to voice our concern and our displeasure of the police union, what they did in this ad was very bad for the city. With crime at a whole time high, this is an opportunity for the police to focus on the crime problem in our city and not attacking one of our local and elected Black officials, Karen Bass.”

Cager shared similar concerns by stating, “It’s an old playbook.  Karen Bass is the author of the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act — the police union commits millions of dollars to get rid of her.”

The Ward AME Church pastor noted, “We’ve seen it in Los Angeles before when the police union sided with Sam Yorty against Tom Bradley over 50 years ago.

“Los Angeles has moved on from the politics of race baiting from the time when victory was determined by dividing the White westside [residents] and the White valley [residents] from people of color,” he said.

“This is a time for Los Angeles to come together, and we call on all of the candidates in this race and every race to rebuke and resist the cheap politics of race baiting and to draw Los Angeles together,” concluded Cager.

“We further condemn the police union for continuing fan the flames of racial politics.”