Sheriff’s Department addresses racial profiling
AV citizens demand change
LANCASTER, Calif.—Members of the Antelope Valley community gathered at different locations on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights to share their stories about their encounters with local law enforcement. Hosted by members of the newly formed Merit Commission, individuals stood in front a crowd of activists, concerned citizens and even a few Sheriff’s Department representatives hoping to trigger a movement of change.
Captain Axel Anderson of Lancaster Sheriff’s Department said he and his colleagues have come to a better understanding of the minority community’s relationship with law enforcement.
“I think the most important thing for me is (the meetings) really, I think, touched my heart and gave me a better idea about the kind of anger and the kind of mistrust that exists out there between our minority communities and the Sheriff’s Department. I consider that a problem. I think there are some things we can do to make that situation better,” Anderson said. He added that the racial profiling topic and other tensions between deputies and minorities have been addressed in daily briefings with officers.
He noted that many of the complaints from residents were valid and may be further investigated. Each public testimony was recorded and will be taken into consideration.
“I believe a substantial amount of the complaints were heartfelt and were valid,” he commented. “I did, however, recognize in some of the speakers, some folks with some gang affiliations. I did not feel their complaints were valid. I felt like they were making excuses. I felt they were trying to exert some influence when in fact, very clearly, the people they were talking about … have been involved in crime, and they need to understand that we have to continue to do our jobs.”
In the meantime, Anderson says his station is being proactive in bringing light to the issue and attempting to remedy some of the ills presented by the community.
Through further training, the captain hopes to see some changes among his staff, while he admitted there are some issues among individual deputies who may abuse their power or disrespect citizens.
In Palmdale, Captain Bobby Denham agrees. He, too, will be having more conversations with his staff about the issues residents brought up at the town hall meetings.
“I think that the thing that is really important to understand is the different sensitivity towards different individuals within our community regardless of race,” Denham said. “By listening to the testimonies of the individuals, that certainly gives me a better insight (into) the perceptions people may have toward law enforcement.”
He plans to address sensitivity to diverse individuals within his department. Denham also made a point to clarify that the Merrick Bobb report’s purpose was not to disclose racial profiling within the Sheriff’s Department. Bobb is special counsel to the sheriff produces a semi-annual report on arrests.
Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford commented Monday about the issue and explained that he is currently working with Denham to address the issue. But only talking has taken place. No active agenda has been formed.
Denham said the department is committed to being “fair” and “honest,” but several residents are not convinced.
Genea Knight, a resident of the Antelope Valley, attended two of the townhall meetings. Despite the public forum and the department being present, she believes it will take much more than a few meetings to stir up some change.
“I do think the meetings were useful so people get their stories out there and we know what to expect,” she said. “We already know why we are being pulled over. It’s not because we are speeding, or ran the stop sign. It’s because we are Black and there is racial profiling going on. We fit the description.”
There is an old joke in the Black community about women attributing long hair to having “Indian blood” in their family. But like all jokes, there is an element of truth in this statement. There are deep ties between Native Americans, America’s first residents, and Black Americans, America’s first sizable minority group.
How can this great nation of the United States of America allow Freedmen Descendants to be treated in such a racist and discriminatory manner? Over and over again the rules have been changed by Cherokee Tribes, and then readily accepted by the United States Courts in order to assure that most Freedmen will have no rightful place in Native American tribes. For decades, one Cherokee chief after another has implemented long-standing racist behaviors in order to assure that most Freedmen are excluded from voting and other privileges offered to Cherokee citizens.
It has only been about 70 years now, that Black people in America have been able to live in any neighborhood we so please.
And that came about because on Nov. 13, 1940, the United Supreme Court, in the case of Hansberry v. Lee, ruled that it was unlawful for Whites to bar African Americans from living in White neighborhoods.
While spending some leisure time surfing the net, I recently came across an article entitled, “8 Reasons to Date a White Man” by LaShaun Williams, which was clearly directed at Black women, as an alternative choice to dating Black men.
In most cases I would just bypass this type of article, but decided to see what all the hoopla was about. The reasons, quite laughable at first glance, actually had a twinge of truth in many of them. They are as follows:
In a time when injustice reigned with no remorse, and in the wake of the assassination of activist Malcolm X, an uprising of young Black leaders and freedom fighters formed a group that would change the climate and pace of the Civil Rights Movement forever. Huey P. Newton along with his long-time friends Bobby Seale and David Hilliard founded the Black Panther Party in Oakland, Calif. on Oct. 15, 1966.