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Santa Monica City Council Calls for Action to Address Systemic Racism, Police Reform, and Independent Review of May 31 Response

June 10, 2020 9:00 AM

Santa Monica City Council Calls for Action to Address Systemic Racism, Police Reform, and Independent Review of May 31 Response

SANTA MONICA, Calif. –  Last night, the Santa Monica City Council took three actions that exemplify their values of accountability, equity, inclusion, innovation, resilience, safety, and stewardship, and their commitment to advancing equity for the Black community in Santa Monica.   

The Council unanimously adopted  the Obama Pledge to reform local police practices to limit use of force. Last week, following the widespread civic demonstrations that took place across the nation in reaction to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor,  Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others, the Obama Foundation asked cities to commit to action and pledge to change policies to reduce police use of force. Mayor Kevin McKeown signed the pledge on June 4. Last night, the Council unanimously voted to adopt the pledge and directed staff to take four steps:  

  1. Review  Santa Monica  Police Department (SMPD) use of force policies.  
  2. Engage with the Santa Monica community by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in the review.  
  3. Report  out  findings from the review to the Santa Monica  community and seek feedback.  
  4. Reform  SMPD use of force policies based on the review.  

“The Obama Pledge commits us to a clear process for real change,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown.  “The four points of review, engage, report, and reform create a blueprint for our community to come together, making sure all voices are heard and all facts are considered, as we implement deep and long-lasting change to eliminate institutional racism.  This is a task we cannot delay.  Our work will be swift, it will be inclusive, and it will reflect Santa Monica’s long history of caring about all members of our community.”

Council  also  voted  unanimously  to direct staff to explore implementation of the #8CantWait action items, a series of measures to restrict police use of force and reduce police violence.  

City staff will work with community leaders to create a Black Agenda to address issues of systemic racism in Santa Monica. Santa Monica  stands in solidarity with  the  Black Lives Matter  movement  to take action against systemic racism and ensure that  the City’s Black community defines and develops programming that generates change and healing through long-term commitment to support communities of color in Santa Monica.   

This effort will build on work the City had underway before the novel coronavirus pandemic by City staff from the City’s Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). This cohort of City staff will lead collaboration with the Santa Monica community to define and develop the Black Agenda.  

“We must act now! We cannot wait. We must come together and listen to the changes that our Black community leaders ask us to make and then act,” said Councilmember Ana Maria Jara. “We must listen to our Black leadership within our City staff and bring them together with our community in order to bring about effective institutional change. Black lives matter, not only today, but every day.”

At the request of Councilmember Sue  Himmelrich, City Council unanimously voted to direct an independent investigation of the events on Sunday, May 31st, including events leading up to that day and the days that followed. The review will be conducted by an independent professional body such as the OIR Group, which has conducted independent reviews of police actions across the country.    

“It’s important that the City conduct a factual analysis by independent professionals with expertise about the subject matter under investigation,” said Councilmember Sue Himmelrich.  “The information gathered from this work will be an effective tool to help us all do better in the future.”   

To stay informed about ways to get involved, sign up for our community newsletter at www.santamonica.gov/newsletter

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