The Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray has been appointed to the Los Angeles County’s newly formed Citizens Commission on Jail Violence. The commission, established last month with a joint motion by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas, is charged with investigating allegations of abuse at the Men’s Central Jail and returning to the Board of Supervisors with recommendations for reform.
“After the 1992 riots, Murray, then pastor of First AME Church (FAME) in South Los Angeles, became the pre-eminent moral force in the local and national conversation about the relationship of minority communities to the law-enforcement structure,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who appointed Murray to the panel. “It is this voice, along with Pastor Murray’s wisdom and experience that he will bring to the commission.
“My colleagues on the board have appointed people with laudable experience in the legal system,” the Supervisor said, “and those perspectives will be of great service as we move forward to reform the jail system. To be successful, however, I believe the commission must engage the broader public–not just the law-enforcement community–in a moral conversation, and few are as well suited to do this task as Cecil L. Murray.”
During his 27 years as FAME’s pastor, Murray transformed a small congregation of 250 into an 18,000-person church. With multimillion dollar community and economic development programs, Murray brought jobs, housing, and corporate investment into South Los Angeles.
After retiring from FAME in 2004, Murray joined the faculty of USC, where he is currently the John R. Tansey Chair of Christian Ethics in the School of Religion.