Protests for racial justice in the United States have been ongoing for the past two months. In Los Angeles County, local government is attempting to create its own vision of recompense. The Los Angeles city council voted to slash $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget earlier this month. The Board of Supervisors recently approved an anti-racist motion tasking each county department with addressing explicit structural racism.
Lola Smallwood-Cuevas is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center, and has done extensive work with the Black working class. She says these actions are a good start to dismantling the effects of systemic racism.
“But so much more is needed to not just examine it, but to reverse and to transform the way that we are approaching public policies, and particularly the intersection of economic policy of a fiscal policy,” Smallwood-Cuevas says.”How do we begin to distribute resources in a way that really reaches the communities in the most need?”
Some newly adopted city policies seem to contradict the county’s efforts. This week, Mayor Garcetti announced an expansion of policing in communities of color under a newly created Community Safety Partnerships Bureau. The LA City Council recently voted to resume cleaning encampments in special zones, and requiring tents to be taken down during the day, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Smallwood-Cuevas says that's moving in the opposite direction.
“It reflects some regressive thinking that we need to move beyond,” she says. “It is part of our failure that the Black community is just 7% of the population, but 40% of those who are on the street."