LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer LAUSD Board of Education
333 S. Beaudry Avenue, 24th Floor Los Angeles, CA 900173
Dear LAUSD Board President Zimmer,
We are writing to you on behalf of our Fight for the Soul of the Cities Campaign and the work we have done in LA’s Black and Latino communities in LA for decades. We continue to call for the Los Angeles Unified School District and its Los Angeles School Police Department to end its relationship with the Department of Defense (DOD) 1033 Program and its continued possession of the 61 M-16 assault rifles acquired through the DOD 1033 Program. Attached is our May 15, 2015 letter (the fourth letter of record) to you, LAUSD Superintendent Cortines and other members of the LAUSD School Board. We feel very disappointed, perplexed and angered that there has not been any real engagement or even a real response to our letter, let alone any movement towards ending the district’s continued participation in the DOD 1033
Program. Lastly, we are asking you to move public comment to the beginning of the LAUSD Board meeting on Thursday, July 30th, to allow the public time to address you and other Board Members on this issue, and other issues important to the public.
We would assume that a Board that is lauded for its efforts to curb criminalization and zero tolerance, that often credits the youth, parents and community organizations that called for these changes, and that has publicly demonstrated sympathy to the movement demanding justice for victims of state violence and the special urgent needs of LA’s Black community that the issue of LAUSD collaboration with the DOD 1033 Program would be a simple response – the immediate termination of district collaboration and destruction of the weapons still in its possession.
Furthermore, there has not even been a formal response to the President Obama Executive Order 13688 released on May 18th, that states clearly that local law enforcement agencies that solely serve K-12, hence the Los Angeles School Police Department, would no longer have access to specialized firearms and ammunition under .50-caliber (that includes the current M- 16s in LAUSD’s possession). Superintendent Cortines’ sole correspondence to us argued that M-16s are standardized police equipment. Outside of clever words, let’s be clear that the LAUSD Board silence and inaction is a form of justifying its right to have these deadly weapons
that the International Committee of the Red Cross has described as inhumane. We once again ask you to destroy the 61 M16 assault rifles acquired through the DOD 1033 Program.
Lastly, our members and the community will be mobilizing for the scheduled LAUSD Board meeting on Thursday, July 30th. We expect that given that this meeting is scheduled for a 6
pm start, that you will agree to have public comment at the beginning of the LAUSD Board agenda – we hope that it allows our youth and community leaders to be able to further elaborate on their concerns and demands to the Board. We believe this request goes beyond our own needs – a transformative format for true public participation – that before any formal business the Board should hear from the public on their concerns, grievances or even accolades on something with such great impact on our youth and schools. For too long, public comment at LAUSD has been a tactic of attrition, leaving space for community voice only at the very end and after lengthy meetings. Often by the end of the meeting there is a minimum of Board quorum and even LAUSD Board Members and staff seem more interested in ending the meeting than really engaging in the content and potentially seeking resolutions, or minimally providing at least brief responses to the public and next steps for LAUSD staff to work with the public to seek solutions.
We look forward hearing from you.
Eric Mann , Executive Director
Manuel Criollo, Director of Organizing