March 1, 2016
LAUSD President Steve Zimmer, Monica Garcia, George McKenna, Scott Schmerelson, Ref Rodriguez, Mónica
Ratliff, Richard Vladovic, Superintendent Michelle King
333 South Beaudry Ave., 24th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90017
Dear LAUSD President Zimmer:
We strongly rejected the District’s participation in the Department of Defense 1033 Program; it was and continues to be a form of educational and military racism to participate in this counter-insurgency program. While it’s an important milestone that you have reportedly returned all the weapons received through this program including the last of the M-16 assault rifles; it’s unacceptable that there has not been a true factual account of your decision to participate in said program, no attempt to meet our demand to give us a full inventory of LASPD weapons, no public apology, no attempt to repair your harm on the school community, and no real resolve to reject this program all together given that it will impact Black and Latino students and their families. With the growing movement by Black and Latino communities, responding to systematic police criminalization, abuse and violence, and the numerous raids in immigrant communities by ICE and coordinated with local police departments—we understand that 1033 is a counter-insurgency program meant to suppress marginalized communities and repress movements and protesters as we witnessed in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD.
The Labor/Community Strategy Center’s Fight for the Soul of the Cities demands and calls on LAUSD to immediately:
- Stop the Cover-up about LAUSD’s Educational and Military Racism, Tell the Full Truth, Return all the Weapons, Prove that You Have Done So. We need the LAUSD and LASPD to document the full facts. We need a full history of the first time the LAUSD and LASPD applied for weapons from the DOD 1033 Program, each weapon received, and if they were returned, the correspondence with DOD, which weapons were returned, and a complete inventory showing each weapon received and returned to prove there are NO more DOD 1033 Weapons in LAUSD and LASPD possession.
- Formally Sever All Ties with and Withdraw Completely From the DOD 1033 Program. We need a public letter to all students, parents, teachers, and civil rights groups including the Labor/Community Strategy Center and Fight for the Soul of the Cities proving there is no relationship whatsoever now between LAUSD, LASPD, and DOD 1033. Divulge and end any other ties to the DOD. We need to know if there are any other relationships between LAUSD, LASPD, and DOD that we do not even know about.
- Take Personal and Collective Responsibility for Educational and Military Racism and Counter-Insurgency against Black and Latino Students and Communities—each LAUSD board member and LASPD staff must document their role. We still have deeper questions for LAUSD Board and LASPD leadership: who made the decision to ask for these weapons? Who approved them? Why did they really truly need them?
- A Public Apology. We are asking LAUSD and LASPD board members and officials to publicly apologize for their actions and the entire concept of getting military grade weapons to use against our communities, their dishonesty towards the community and their perpetuation and escalation of the armed occupation of Black and Latino communities in Los Angeles.
- We need the LAUSD and LASPD to repair the damage they have done to their relationship with students, parents, teachers, and the civil rights and human rights community and to indicate penance for these abuses. We are asking the LAUSD to cut the LASPD budget by 50%, cut the LASPD police force by 50% and cut all existing LASPD weapons by 50% now.
- Stop Undermining Participatory and Democratic Rights at LAUSD—We Want Convenient and Effective LAUSD Board of Education Meetings for LAUSD Black and Latino Students, Parents and Community Members. We need to shift the culture of having Los Angeles Board of Education meeting at inconvenient times for student and parents and transform its current format and structure to maximize public participation and district engagement. We urge you to change LAUSD Board of Education meetings on weekends and/or weekdays after 4 pm. Also, allow public comment at the beginning of every meeting and secure more slots for speakers on agenda items especially on issues that are highly contested, budgetary or regarding civil rights items. Lastly, over the past six months in our challenges to the LAUSD board the LAUSD TV broadcasting has been shutoff while we were addressing the board. We interpret this as a true suppression of the public’s right to speak and undermining the public right to know of policies that are violating their civil and human rights.
- Call on the LAPD and LA County Sherriff’s Department to Withdraw from the DOD 1033 Program.
- Call on President Barack Obama to Completely Terminate the Entire DOD 1033 Program.
As an institution of learning, LAUSD must lead the nation in rejecting the militarization of the police and the human rights violations against Black and Latino people in LA and nationally.
Eric Mann Manuel Criollo
Executive Director Director of Organizing
Barbara Lott-Holland Ashley Franklin
Associate Director Lead Organizer