As we welcome 2023, we are relieved to have staved off a white-supremacist-patriarchal-predatory-capitalist mayoralty and welcome the kind of substantive change promised by Mayor Bass. Already, she has already changed the language and expectations around housing and support for houseless people. Another critical issue that she must address is public safety and LAPD. And, more specifically, who will be the Chief? We say loudly and resoundingly that it is time for Chief Moore to go.
For three years, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles has been advocating for the removal of Chief Michel Moore. Last week, he made a public bid for an additional five-year term. The City Charter requires action by March, with Moore’s current 5-year term ending this June. Despite more than 40,000 Angelenos petitioning for the removal of Moore during his current term, no action was taken by the mayor who appointed him – Eric Garcetti.
Karen Bass can chart a new course by allowing him to close out his current term and choosing a different path forward. The appointment of a new chief through a community-engaged process aligns with the transparency and democratic approach to leadership that Mayor Bass championed in her campaign language.
As an organization concerned about accountability for the violence and murders committed by LAPD, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles has been monitoring and attending Police Commission meetings in person and virtually since 2013. We do not have confidence in the current Commission because it has generally served as a “rubber stamp” body, not displaying critical analysis or in-depth probing as they oversee policing.
Commission President Briggs has indicated a rush to reappoint Chief Moore without a community review process. We distrust the Commission’s ability to review, evaluate, and vote objectively.
Moore has failed in many ways. During his tenure, LAPD has continued to be the most murderous law enforcement agency in the nation. LAPD has disproportionately killed Black folks, houseless people, and those suffering from mental challenges and/or substance abuse. Moore does not appear to enforce de-escalation as a philosophy or plan for LAPD. He consistently approves the harm as necessary and “in-policy.” If and when a shooting is designated out-of-policy by him or the Commission, officers are almost never disciplined or held accountable in any way.
As a result of excessive LAPD violence against peaceful protestors in 2020 following the police/white-supremacist murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, several lawsuits, including one of the most significant class-actions in history, were filed. The investigative report developed around the harms names Moore’s failure to properly plan and worse his “direct approval” of many of the abusive tactics to be at fault.
Some of these suits have resulted in the City having to pay out enormous sums because of Moore’s failures. In spite of these facts, Moore continued to allow this behavior in 2022, as those protesting the overturning of abortion rights were brutalized, arrested, and intimidated by LAPD.
In 2021, Moore oversaw a planned detonation, which was communicated to the media as an anti-fireworks stunt. The explosion was not contained and, horrendously, the lives of Auzie Houchins and Ramon Reyes were cut short; the long-time residents and community pillars died in the explosion’s aftermath.
The explosion also resulted in the destruction of an entire city block in South LA. Houses, apartment buildings, businesses, vehicles, and property were destroyed, as the explosion dislodged residents from their homes. Many former residents of this tightly-knitted community are still suffering and have not been adequately compensated. Beyond the human toll, the explosion cost the City many millions of dollars.
As a reminder, the list of harms committed by Chief Moore is long. During his tenure he: used a white-supremacist media outlet (Breitbart) to recruit LAPD applicants, enabled anti-Black racism by allowing Black people to be stopped by LAPD at 5 times their population share and searched 3 times the rate of other races, fostered a culture of corruption where officers in South Central were found to have illegally and unjustly entered the names of Black and Brown residents into gang databases, presented internal investigations that repeatedly avoid accountability, including finding that not a single one of 4863 racial-bias complaints filed by the public was valid, stated that protestors in 2020 were just as responsible for the death of George Floyd as were the officers who killed him, created a culture where officers were enabled to circulate a “Valentine Card” with a despicable reference to Mr. Floyd and the words “you take my breath away” on LAPD’s internal online communication system, refused to disclose or publicly hold accountable the LAPD officers who participated in the attack of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, publicly compared Black Lives Matter to the right-wing extremist group the Proud Boys stating that both “represent ideology that’s counter to democracy,” lied on the record to the public about the number of traffic stops made in South Central in 2021, stating the number was 74, when the actual recorded number was 639 – a number revealed by the media, enabled the targeting, intimidation, arrest, and “swatting” of movement activists and organizers, “double-dipped” by unethically taking both a $1.3 million lump sum retirement and a nearly $400,000 annual salary, allowed for the flying of racist flags on LAPD buildings, turned a blind-eye to officers who drive under the influence and abuse their spouses, permitted cops to spread COVID in the department and in neighborhoods by refusing vaccinations and not masking up, and allowed for crime rings to form by officers who do everything from sell LAPD firearms to commit sexual assault.
Our list of grievances against Chief Moore is much longer, and includes his personal three shootings of Angelenos when he was a beat cop. He has established a record of mismanagement, deceit, corruption and brutality. While these harms have impacted the entire City, they have had a particularly brutal effect on Black and poor communities. We need change. Chief Moore must not be reappointed. Mayor Bass, we are looking to you.
Dr. Melina Abdullah is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and a tenured professor in the Pan African Studies Department at CSU-Los Angeles. Paula Minor leads the Police Accountability Team for Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and is a mother, grandmother, and retired administrator with the City of Los Angeles.