We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).
There’s no pussyfooting around it. Democrats put Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva into the office and it’s Democrats who need to take him out.
Look, I drank the Kool-Aid too. For me, it was former Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s handling of the Cherie Townsend case. Townsend was the Black mother who was arrested and accused of murdering a wealthy white woman in Palos Verdes. While she’s since been released, she’s still dealing with the effects of being labeled a murder and neither McDonnell nor his predecessor have apologized to her or returned her impounded car.
For others, it was McDonnell’s handling of the many, many assaults and rapes by deputies in jails, the questionable suicides, and cozy relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials who used the county’s massive jail system. Under McDonnell’s watch a Times investigation found that a team of deputies targeted thousands of innocent Latino motorists on the 5 Freeway in drug searches, a practice now under review. Many felt more could have been done to curb deputies’ wearing of matching tattoos that we now know are outright gangs with the department.
Enter Alex Villanueva. A relatively unknown figure in Los Angeles politics who with the help of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, took advantage of low-information voters and Democrats extreme displeasure with President Donald Trump. All they had to do was make McDonnell a Republican and Villanueva a Democrat– and it worked.
To quote Javier Gonzalez from an interview in the Times, the campaign strategist for Citizens PAC, a group that channeled funding from labor organizations, including the Service Employees International Union, to promote Villanueva, “We owe a lot of this to Trump. … Where did Democrats in L.A. County have to go to express their displeasure with Trump?”
Gonzalez also said Democrat hit “lightning in a bottle” with Villanueva, who checked all of the boxes.
“A Democrat, progressive, straight and narrow, law enforcement credentials, military credentials, fluent Spanish, lived in Puerto Rico,” Gonzalez said. “It was a perfect storm here.”
But nearly two years later, just about everyone who voted for Villanueva with the exception of rank-and-file deputies, has buyer’s remorse–including me.
Villanueva has proven himself to be our local version of Donald Trump.
We put a vindictive-self-serving-narcissist-registered-in-name-only Democrat into office–and now it’s time for us to use the same amount of enthusiasm, energy, and money we poured into electing Villanueva into removing him from office.
And no, we can’t wait until it’s politically convenient to do so because people are dying and (some) deputies are lying.
The Democratic Party continues to have this fair-weather relationship with criminal justice reform advocates–a relationship where they support criminal justice reform when it’s easy and convenient to do so. That was put on full display during Tuesday’s presidential debate when Vice-President Joe Biden was asked if he supported Black Lives Matter’s call for community control of policing. It was a simple straightforward question to a man who has been using Black Lives Matter on the campaign trail from coast to coast.
“Look, what I support are the police having the opportunity to deal with the problems they face and I’m totally opposed to defunding the police offices. As a matter of fact, police, local police, the only one defunding in his budget calls for a $400 million cut in local law enforcement assistance. They need more assistance. They need when they show up for a 9-11 call to have someone with them as a psychologist or psychiatrist to keep them from having to use force and be able to talk people down. We have to have community policing like we had before where the officers get to know the people in the communities. That’s when crime went down, it didn’t go up. It went down. And so we have to be…”
If you could see my face right now.
But Biden isn’t the only Democrat using Black Lives Matter and the criminal justice reform movement when it’s convenient.
A bill that would have allowed “bad officers” to be permanently stripped of their badges failed to pass the Democratically led California Legislature when state lawmakers couldn’t muster enough support to pass one of the year’s top policing reform bills. The measure would have created a way to decertify officers found to have committed serious misconduct. They also failed to pass a bill that would have made public disciplinary records against police officers accused of racist or discriminatory actions, or those who have a history of wrongful arrests or searches.
The bottom line is that Democrats are publicly sympathetic and supportive of Black Lives Matter and have no problem using the cause to look good on social media but when it’s all said and done–when it really matters–they are not coming through with the votes to change the laws.
In fact, the Democrats’ behavior might be even worse than Republicans because at least we know from the jump where Republicans stand on the issue of Black lives.
We all understand the role of the sheriff and the sheriff’s department.
Villanueva does not espouse the stated values of the Democratic Party. From reinstating a deputy fired over domestic violence allegations, refusing any kind of oversight over the sheriff’s department, transparency and budgeting, and allegations of misconduct by deputy “gangs.” He’s already cost the county millions of dollars in claims of excessive force by members of the department. After the landslide victory of Measure R in March, he refuses to comply with legally issued subpoenas from the Civilian Oversight Commission that oversees the sheriff’s department.
Like Trump, Villanueva has made it clear he’s not going anywhere and no one is the boss of him.
Our only alternative is to recall Trump’s mini-me and escort him out of the building and start anew. This is a new day, being elected doesn’t mean life occupancy in a position anymore.
In the end, voters always have the final say and as quickly as we put Villanueva into office, we can take him out.
The L.A. County Democratic Party owes that to Democrats in Los Angeles.
The last thing criminal justice reform advocates and supporters need is more symbolism from Democratic lawmakers and the Democratic Party. What we need, want, and demand is leadership in the form of action.
Villanueva has to go. We can’t wait until 2022. The Democratic Party put him into office, so the Democratic Party needs to fund the recall to remove him.
Elected during California’s March 2020 Primary Election, Jasmyne A. Cannick is a duly elected member to the Los Angeles County Democratic Party’s County Central Committee representing the 53rd Assembly District.
County Central Committee Members are the people who function essentially as the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and they are elected by a vote of the People every four years.
These local offices are extremely important because it’s the County Central Committee Members who get to vote on who gets the endorsement of the Party, financial support and what issues the Party addresses.
While the monthly meetings of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party are open to the public for anyone to attend, only County Central Committee Members are allowed to vote.