LOS ANGELES -- Calling for the defunding of the Los Angeles Police Department isn’t a new idea for one social activist. When Channing Martinez, director of organizing at The Labor Community Strategy Center, ran for L.A. City Council’s 10th District, one of his platform demands was to cut the department's budget 50 percent.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti recently proposed taking $150 million from the L.A. Police Department, saying, “We’ve made cuts because of COVID-19. It’s time to also make cuts because racial justice is something worth fighting for and something worth sacrificing.”
Martinez works inside schools and tells Inside the Issues black students are “targeted.”
“A lot of the policies around policing inside the LAUSD schools and inside of schools in general, targeting black folks,” he said. “When you have schools in South Los Angeles that are being way underfunded compared to schools in whiter areas, no, they’re not putting a knee to your neck, but that is very much putting some violence against you saying you have no right to education.”
The Strategy Center has talked to bus riders to get their perspective. According to their findings, a disproportionate number of black people receiving tickets or getting arrested or harassed.
“So the question really has to be asked: How do you give 9 percent of the population, 60 percent of arrests and tickets? That’s very intentional and that’s very violent. What that means is that virtually every time a black person gets on public transportation, they can expect to have entrapment, be entrapped by police and be harassed by police, ticketed, just for getting on the train and getting on the bus while black,” he said.
He has an immune system that is immunocompromised, so he has concerns about catching coronavirus, but he is motivated to keep up the protests.
“It’s a sacrifice because what’s going on with our lives is violence and that in itself is a big risk,” he said. “So, while there is a pandemic going on with COVID-19, there’s been a pandemic going on with black people for the last 400 years in this country.”
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