Mayor Garcetti Says He Does Not Support The People's Budget But Is 'Listening'
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took the City Hall stage today to address the protests for racial justice, as well as to give an update on the city's response to the coronavirus.
The mayor referred to the protests as a "turning point for our country," pointing to a few minor changes that have been made in the wake of nation-wide protests against police brutality, like LAPD ending the use of the carotid hold (a type of "sleeper hold").
According to the L.A. Times, "when employing a carotid hold, an officer puts pressure on the carotid arteries to slow or block blood flow. If applied correctly, the person can fall unconscious. But it can also lead to injury or death."
Garcetti said the Police Commission will "continue to reform the department to ensure officers build and don't break trust with communities," citing the 58 ongoing investigations of officer misconduct during the protests. He said he was "very troubled' by what he saw in some of those videos. He added that seven officers have been taken off field-duty (which is different from suspension).
He also thanked people for sharing more "positive videos" of LAPD officers:
"There are moments where officers sat down and talked to folks, took a knee. We need to have both sides of the story. The first piece and accountability, and we need to make sure that we also realize the exhaustion that folks [police officers] have out there and the service that they've given to us. And I don't think that we have to choose between those two."
Garcetti also said that he fully supports the legislative package put forward by the California Legislative Black Caucus.
He said he does not support the People's Budget, but he did not directly answer questions about whether or not he supports defunding or restructuring the police department in the near future. He said he believes $150 million is not enough to address all of the issues.
"If we're not re-prioritizing, we're not meeting the moment," he said. "I agree with the sentiment that this is just a start, and my promise to people is, we have to think about reimagining public safety, but we have to do that carefully, boldly. At the same time, we have to do that in an inclusive way so that our officers don't shoulder things like mental health and homelessness disproportionately, but those conversations have to be done in a way that is backed up by numbers."
In a response to a question about whether he would consider eliminating the use of rubber bullets by LAPD officers, Garcetti said he would like to see them "not used as much as possible," but that there are moments when police do need them, like when bottles or bricks are thrown at them. He referenced one police officer who he said "nearly lost his life with a cracked skull" at the protests. He said he would ask the Police Commission for specific advice on this issue.
Garcetti also implored those who attended protests to get free coronavirus tests and consider quarantining for two weeks. He said he personally got tested after taking a knee at one last week.
Garcetti said that the recent reopenings make him "nervous." He expressed concern over people forgetting about how serious the threat of COVID-19 is.
He said the infection rate peaked early on in the crisis (when each infected person was getting three more people sick). Through our efforts to flatten the curve, that number went down to one. But now it's a little higher, around 1.3.
The mayor said though, that despite his concern, he has confidence in the Department of Public Health. The city has also recruited at least 300 new "supplemental contact tracers" -- city employees from other departments like parks and libraries, who will help the county health department with contact tracing efforts during this time.
He said he is particularly nervous about opening gyms and would like more notice from the state on changes in guidelines, but he said he does feel the need to be consistent with neighboring areas:
"If you hold back one city, people can just go next door and work out and go next door to restaurants. So the public health impact is that a region really does need to move together, that if Orange County is doing different than L.A. County, if Santa Monica is doing different than Pomona, these are places where people will interact with each other."