VOICES-Last week I received a copy of a directive which was sent out to each Los Angeles Police Division and the Specialized Units within the LAPD.
In essence, it stated that starting September 1 of this year, Los Angeles Police officers are directed to pass out to individuals they observe on the streets of Los Angeles (business owners, shoppers, dinners or just about anyone they see) masks bearing the slogan: “WE LOVE LA.”
With Labor Day occurring this week, I thought it appropriate to include the following: Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is an annual national tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
We are in the middle of a severe pandemic and have lost thousands of lives. And many more will fall ill to COVID-19. As we enter the flu season, we can also expect more of the same.
Thousands of Angelenos have lost their jobs and, as of this date, many have not yet received any type of unemployment benefits.
The City of Los Angeles has the highest homeless population in the nation. But our elected officials for the most part have turned their backs on them. There are thousands of homeless people including the elderly, women and children who have been forced out of their once affordable housing units because our city elected officials engage in pay-to-play with developers.
Not even during the Great Depression did we see women and children sleeping on city sidewalks. Now our Mayor has been ordered by Federal Judge Carter to remove the homeless population residing over and under our freeways. So far, Mayor Garcetti has failed to comply with the judge’s mandate.
We have seen two current and former Los Angeles City Councilmembers indicted by the U.S. Attorney's office. One, former Councilmember Mitch Englander, has pled guilty but as he awaits sentencing, he continues to reside in a million-dollar home in Santa Monica. Los Angeles residents are going to have to pay for the legal defense team for Councilmember Jose Huizar and you can bet the price tag will be millions of dollars.
We have seen a former deputy mayor to Garcetti plead guilty, and Huizar former staff member George Esparza has also pled out guilty. Esparza, after being interviewed by the FBI, was hired by California State Assembly member Wendy Carrillo. High Los Angeles City officials employed by LA Building and Safety, and in Land Use have also entered guilty pleas.
How many more will fall? Remember that the FBI raided the offices of our current Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who wants to become LA’s next Mayor. More recently, the FBI has been looking at Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price and at least two or three other current LA City Councilmembers. Today, the City of Los Angeles is known as the most corrupt city in our Nation.
Now I ask, how can anyone say, “WE LOVE LA”?
This past Labor Day weekend we had more than 30 thousand residents without power. It was 120 degrees in the San Fernando Valley which is located within the city limits of Los Angeles. It was 113 degrees in the Northeast LA area. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power stated that they had many transformers blow up and these transformers had not been replaced or worked on for several years. Now, the LADWP has known for years that we are going to see major increases in our weather temperatures due to climate change. Every year our rates have been increasing but DWP has not updated their equipment.
The city of LA is in poor shape financially. The Mayor wants to furlough 15 thousand employees (those at the lowest end of the pay scale) and make them take a 10 % pay cut.
Here is my suggestion: The mayor and each city councilmember should take a 50 % cut in pay until they can figure out how to manage our city’s budget. They are greatly overpaid for the work they do. Maybe if the mayor stayed in our city long enough instead of traveling all over the country and abroad, our city would not be in the financial mess it is today.
Prior to the death of George Floyd, our Los Angeles Police officers had been, for the most part, treated with respect by community members.
But with the mass protests after Floyd's death we have seen our police officers pelted with water bottles, bricks, rocks, firecrackers, and called every filthy name in the book.
In our Northeast area of Highland Park and Eagle Rock, there were protesters ransacking the CVS Pharmacy, breaking store windows, and defacing businesses. We observed young people 10 years old and younger holding up signs stating “F**k the Police.”
The most positive outcome of the protests was, for the first time that I can remember, people of all colors joined together to protest peacefully and ask for change. It was sad to see the negative side of the protests when they turned violent and destructive.
Let me make my position clear. I believe in peaceful protests and have participated in many. But protesters don't have the right to inflict harm on others by setting fires, looting, stealing, and destroying and damaging public and private property. Remember, when one destroys public property one is taking away the resources for the neediest communities.
No one can ever say that we don't have bad police officers. We do. Don’t forget, people who apply to be police officers are recruited from the human race.
Recently I have communicated with over 50 active LAPD officers as well as with many retired officers. Most patrol officers I have communicated with said the same thing: “We would be driving down the street in our marked police vehicle and we hear someone blow the horn of their vehicle and as we turn to look at the vehicle someone is flipping us off with their middle finger.”
Ninety plus percent of our Los Angeles Police officers are out there trying to do the best honest job they know how to do. They sincerely care about the communities they patrol.
Recently, we have seen police officers assigned to the elite Metro unit being investigated for inputting false information on field identification cards. Police officers who outright lie on field identification cards should be fired. But where was the check and balance system? Where was the command staff? They should also be held accountable.
I hope all of you take the time to review the video of the protesters who broke through the security gates of Chief's Moore's home. As they were leaving this gated community, other community residents came out of their homes and asked the protesters to leave. The protesters yelled at at them calling them Nazi's and screaming f**k you. These protesters are not interested in making positive change or establishing a positive dialogue with law enforcement.
After that incident we have seen protesters deface a number of Los Angeles police divisions and continue to verbally abuse police officers as they continue to protest and refuse to disperse.
With all that is currently taking place in our city, the dysfunction and corruption among city elected officials, and the increase in violent gang related crimes, you can see that it is just plain crazy to wear a mask that says “WE LOVE LA.”
Can you imagine a police officer assigned to Hollywood Division, 77 Division, Southeast Division, Southwest Division or Hollenbeck Division handing out masks that say WE LOVE LA -- and then being cursed out by a community member or resident of our city?
If the city of LA wanted to hand out masks to community members and residents, they should have done so seven months ago. As usual, the City of Los Angeles is a day late and a dollar short..
There are needy individuals selling masks on street corners to earn money to pay rent and put food on the table. And now the city wants to deprive them of earning an honest living.
(Caroline Aguirre is a retired 24-year State of California law enforcement officer, LAPD family member, community activist and Neighborhood Watch captain. Aguirre is a CityWatch contributor.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.