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The Case for Due Process

Thursday, May 18, 2017

By Veronica Mackey

 

At Tuesday’s council meeting, activists who expressed frustration over the pace of  investigations into the shooting deaths of  Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin by police were given advice by others in the audience.  The couple was killed 15 months ago.  Investigations by the police department and L.A. County District Attorney’s Office are currently being conducted. 

 

A woman brought a bouquet of pink flowers to illustrate that Michael’s children couldn’t give flowers to her on Mother’s Day.  Monica Walker, however, is “in support of the Inglewood Police Dept. and their handling of matters with the City.  They will investigate and handle it accordingly,” she said.  Mayor James Butts interjected, “The only thing you will ever know (from Inglewood Council members) is if the police are still on the payroll.  There will never be a discussion of this event and I’ve said that three times now.”

 

Ray Davis explained why it is important to respect the police officers’ right to due process: “We’ve been down this path before…When politicians and elected officials fail to do their duties. In the Donovan Jackson case, the police had their civil rights taken. Maxine Waters came in here grandstanding—her, Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson.  We had a weak mayor and the city was sued for $5 million, because their (police officers) civil rights were violated. That’s why we’re doing it by the book.” 

 

Erick Holly, president of the Inglewood Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, said “You guys are attacking the wrong forum.  If you want to be on somebody’s doorstep, you need to go to the D.A.’s Office. That’s where it needs to be, not here.” 

 

Frederick Shaw, 1st Vice President of the NAACP, came to the meeting to “create awareness about a major problem in the field of mental health.  They want to use electric shock machines on children. Under Medicaid, they have been shocking children in the last 4 years from 0-5 years of age.”

 

A man asked the council to make more money and resources available to help keep Inglewood clean.  He told the audience, “If you see someone drive around and put garbage on the street, say something.”

 

The council approved an agreement with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission for a Community Impact Arts Grant in the amount of $10,200.  The Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget will be amended to reflect the receipt of $91,300 in grant funds from Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation and Los Angeles Lakers, Inc., and previously authorized reserve funds in the amount of $54,350 for repairs to the Rogers Park and Darby Park basketball courts.

 

During closing remarks, Councilman George Dotson announced that Inglewood will again participate in the American Cancer Society’s Annual Relay for Life fundraiser.  “It’s coming up on June 10, and I’m asking all of you to join Team Dotson.  You can volunteer and join my team.”  Dotson also congratulated Mayor Butts for receiving an award from Ability First, a nonprofit that serves people with special needs.

 

Councilman Alex Padilla also commented on Relay for Life.  “It’s about bringing awareness,” he said. “You walk around the track and you walk in memory of loved ones who are either fighting cancer or who have lost the battle.   It will kick off here at Crozier Middle School at 9am.” 

 

Councilman Ralph Franklin acknowledged the recent passing of Lorraine Shaw, a 52-year Inglewood resident.  “She will be missed, along with her husband Dr. Ernest Shaw, who served on the Inglewood School Board.  May they both rest in peace.”   Franklin also thanked people who came to his District 4 Town Hall meeting last week.  “We talked about Alzheimer’s, and veteran’s care.  Everyone appreciated the information covered at that meeting.”

 

“Ernest Shaw helped my (family) start a soccer league in Inglewood in the 80s when there was a small Latino population. They helped make the City of Inglewood an example for the rest of the world, to see how well different cultures get along,” Councilman Eloy Morales said.  

 

Morales nominated and Butts appointed Josie Perez to the Inglewood Library Commission.  

 

Butts took the final minutes of the meeting to address a woman who criticized him for allowing someone to speak beyond the one-minute time limit. 

 

“No one in here is superior, you have no right to sit in the audience and interrupt anyone.  I’m going to warn you in advance, don’t talk out ... If it is disruptive, we will close the meeting and we will leave.” 

 

Regarding the Michael-Sandlin case, the mayor reiterated:

 

“A police officer’s personal records are privileged by state law. What we can talk about is whether or not someone is on the payroll.  These officers (involved in the Michael-

Sandlin shootings) are on the payroll.”

 

Butts closed the meeting in honor of the late Lorraine Shaw as well as Erin Cooley and Sonia Lee, who recently passed on. Before the meeting was adjourned, Inglewood High School senior Beverly  Vezile  was recognized for her outstanding academic achievement. Vezile ranks number one out of 211students in her graduating class, with a GPA of 4.5.  She is headed for UCLA.

 

Sexual assault trial begins next month.

 

Jury selection will begin next week in Philadelphia in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial.  The defamed comedian and actor said he won’t testify, but had plenty to say to Michael Smerconish on Sirius XM.  

 

Commenting on the more than 50 women who have come forth, charging him with drugging, sexual assault and rape as far back as the 1970s, Cosby suggested that many of the allegations are based on racism.  

 

The case that will be heard beginning next month involves Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who claimed Cosby drugged and molested her in 2004.  It is the only criminal case that has resulted in a trial. The statute of limitation has run out for dozens of other accusers.  Cosby said his encounter with Constand was consensual, and has sued some of the other women for defamation.

 

In an interview with Smerconish that aired Tuesday, Cosby said: "I just truly believe that some of it may very well be that (racism)." It is the first recorded interview since he was charged in December 2015. 

 

The sitcom star spoke in vague, general terms, referring to his accusers as “individuals” and “some people.”

 

In regards to the racism claim, Smerconish pointed out that Cosby's accusers are both black and white. But Cosby insisted that some were motivated by racism and were out to get revenge:

 

"When you look at the power structure, and when you look at individuals, there are some people who can very well be motivated by whether or not they're going to work. Or whether or not they might be able to get back at someone," Cosby said.

 

He added:  "So if it's in terms of whatever the choice is, I think that you can also examine individuals and situations and they will come out differently. So it's not all, it's not every, but I do think that there's some."

 

Last month, Cosby spoke with a consortium of black-owned newspapers.   However, despite claims of racism, very few blacks outside Cosby’s circle of family and friends have come to his defense. Many in the black community were offended when the comedian harshly criticized poor black kids for wearing sagging pants and not speaking “proper English.”  

 

The majority of women who accused Cosby of assaulting them decades ago maintain they didn’t come forward earlier because he was such a powerful figure in Hollywood.  They felt no one would have taken them seriously.  

 

The 79-year old comic faces 10 years in prison if convicted on felony sex assault charges.  The trial begins on June 5.

  

 

The killer of slain Inglewood policeman, Sgt. George Aguilar, is set to be released from prison, despite efforts from family members to keep him behind bars. 

 

Aguilar was gunned down while chasing several robbery suspects in March 1988. Joevone Elster, the mastermind behind the crime, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Four suspects were arrested and charged with murder.

 

Aguilar was immortalized when he became the first Inglewood police officer to die in the line of duty.  The Inglewood City Council declared an official day of mourning, flags flew at half-staff and a trust fund was established for the officer’s 3-year-old son.

 

Now, family members are in a state of shock at even the thought of Elster walking after 29 years behind bars.

 

“I never thought we'd be here trying to fight for him to stay in prison. What kind of justice system would release a cop killer?" son George Aguilar Jr. said.  The family has had little time to digest the news, learning Tuesday that Elster will be released on Friday.

 

Elster was previously granted parole.  That sentence was overturned by Gov. Jerry Brown.  Then, Los Angeles Superior Court overturned Brown’s reversal, allowing the original parole grant to be reinstated.  The Governor’s Office is not likely to try and reverse the reversal  because such actions almost always prove unsuccessful.

 

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Aguilar was raised in the Latino Boyle Heights area. In Inglewood, the father of four served as a role model for groups of Latino school children he counseled.

 

Daughter Camille Zamorano said her father “absolutely loved his job. He gave his life for it, and now our justice system is going to allow the person responsible for his murder to walk the streets.” 

 

“My dad lost his life when he was 46 years old. Now, here we are, the man responsible for my dad's death—his is about to begin at just about the same age. Where is the fairness in that?" Aguilar Jr. said.

 

Brother Larry Aguilar said the ordeal has been a “nightmare” for the entire family, which never ended.  “There should be a law that anybody that kills a police officer should never see the outside of prison walls," he said.

 

With time running out, Aguilar's family is again pleading for the governor's help and asking the public to speak out. Aguilar was well-known in the law enforcement community, and his murder was even turned into a docudrama with Danny Trejo playing the veteran officer.

 

By Veronica Mackey

 

A small group of Trump supporters tested the mettle of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Inglewood) last Saturday and got run out of the building.  The fiery, 78 year-old Congresswoman, whom Millennials refer to as “Auntie Maxine, ” shut down the hecklers while simultaneously informing constituents about serious issues facing lawmakers in Washington.

 

Foes and supporters piled into the Inglewood High School auditorium for a town hall meeting held at Inglewood High School, 231 S. Grevillea Avenue.  Among them were folks carrying racist posters and signs that read “Impeach Maxine Waters.”  Beloved by most in her 43rd  District, Waters supporters cheered loudly every time she was interrupted by a Trump supporter.  She had plenty of back up, but did fine by herself shutting down disrupters who apparently did not know where they were.

 

"For those who thought they could come here and interrupt, they're in Inglewood.  They can't do that in Inglewood,” Waters said as police rushed in to escort a Trump supporter out of the building. 

 

Not one to mince words, Waters has been quite vocal about her dislike and lack of respect for the 45th president.  When asked if she was going to attend his inauguration in January, she said, “I wouldn’t waste my time.”  During the Tax March in Washington, Waters vowed to “fight every day until Trump is impeached.”

 

Conversely, Trump supporters called for Waters’ impeachment, with signs posted around the high school, which were quickly taken down.  Police removed several Trump supporters from the auditorium both before and during the meeting.

 

The budding love affair between Waters and her Millennial fans developed recently, beginning with her protest of Trump’s inauguration.  Young folks respect her toughness and willingness to stand up to those in power.  Water’s quotes are often re-tweeted, and she has been the subject of recent interviews that target younger audiences like Teen Vogue, Jet, Elle, and millennial-focused news sites like Mic and BuzzFeed.

 

She said in an interview:  “It’s unusual for elected officials to step outside of the box  … “The Millennials keep telling me for the most part they’ve never heard someone talk like that before.” 

 

As the longest-serving black woman in the House, Waters has achieved icon-level status as the “go-to” person whenever injustice—particularly racial injustice—occurs.  Her advocacy work continues to inspire a whole new generation today.“

 

“Donald Trump, I’m coming for you!” Waters shouted. “In this business you expect there are people who disagree with you or even hate you. I put everything on the line, I’m going for it [because] I cannot suffer him. I’m so offended by him and the way he’s conducted himself, the way he disrespects people and to add insult to injury, he doesn’t respect the government, he doesn’t know anything about it.” 

 

Harridge Development Group intends to build 228 townhomes on an 18-acre site a mile from the Los Angeles Rams’ planned stadium.

 

Harridge Development Group plans to build 228 townhomes on the 18-acre site which formerly housed Daniel Freeman Hospital, at 333 S. Prairie Ave.  The Miracle Mile-based company purchased the property for $38 million from Shopoff Realty Investments of Irvine, which bought the site in 2013.  Shopoff originally entitled the property for 310 units.  

 

Harridge is on the fast track to build the new homes, located just a mile from the planned NFL stadium, under construction in Inglewood, by the time the stadium opens in 2019.

 

David Schwartzman, Harridge’s chief executive, said the company plans to begin demolition in the next few weeks on the pricey homes that will sell from the mid-$800,000s to low $900,000s.  The deal was announced last week by broker, The Hoffman Company, which said the new tract of homes will be called Grace Park.  

 

Hoffman also said the new homes would appeal to “Los Angeles County’s highly educated tech workers,” as “Google, Facebook, Snapchat and Uber are among the many tech-oriented companies nearby.”

 

“It could be the next Playa Vista, with everything going on there. We like to be in front of the trend,” Schwartzman said.

 

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