Central Division Officers Roiled in Discrimination Accusations and Lawsuits–Against Each Other
More than five years ago, LA CAN released a shocking video that depicted Central Division officers taking property – sometime forcibly – from Skid Row residents and giving it to homeless residents beneath the 6th Street Bridge. More shocking, however, was that as the officers drove under the bridge they seemed to summon residents by singing the Sanford & Son theme song over their PA system. As most know, Sanford & Son was a sitcom about the wiles of a Black junk man (played by Redd Fox) and his son, and most considered this a racial slur against the mostly Black residents in need of the property the officers were transporting. Once released, the video swept the mainstream media and the LAPD responded by insinuating this incident has nothing to do with race or racism, and, they did not necessarily see anything wrong with it.
Now, years later, the Sanford & Son theme song reemerges in a racial discrimination case within Central Division – this time by a Black officer. Not surprising, perhaps, since when the offensive use of this song was used before LAPD leadership saw nothing wrong.
A recent story written by a Downtown News reporter, Ryan Vaillancourt, provides a narrative which illustrates deeply entrenched racial rancor, nepotism, and employee conduct that seems to violate a number of racial and sexual harassment laws. Equally importantly, it raises additional concerns for community members that have spoken out loudly against police abuse and discriminatory practices employed by Central Officers for quite some time.
Why should the community believe that policing happens in an unbiased and non-discriminatory way in the mostly African American community of Skid Row when discrimination, bias, and age-old racial attitudes are clearly STILL prevalent within the Central Division itself?
The LAPD seems to forming its own “millionaires club” comprised of those who win discrimination lawsuits – many recently coming from Central Division. Law firms and injured officers walk away with purses full of gold, while the community is left holding the bag in more ways than one. The time for community oversight, true accountability mechanisms and an external and internal racial-impact audit is now. And the community is coming to get it.