Politics

Black Lives Matter shuns LAPD alliance embraced by The Game

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, center, with rappers The Game (left) and Snoop Dogg (far right) at a news conference following a meeting at police headquarters in Los Angeles Friday, July 8, 2016. The rappers led a peaceful march where they urged improved relations between police and minority communities in the wake of shootings in Dallas that left five police officers dead.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, center, with rappers The Game (left) and Snoop Dogg (far right) at a news conference following a meeting at police headquarters in Los Angeles Friday, July 8, 2016. The rappers led a peaceful march where they urged improved relations between police and minority communities in the wake of shootings in Dallas that left five police officers dead.
Frank Stoltze/ KPCC

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Over the past several days, the LAPD has found itself at the center of two different social movements. In one, it's been cast as an obstacle to change. In the other, it's seen as a partner for peace.

That apparent contradiction has been underscored by an on-going sit-in in front of LA City Hall East by members of the group Black Lives Matter. They're calling for the LA Police Commission to fire Chief Charlie Beck in the wake of police killings of African Americans. 

That's the same Chief Beck who over this weekend stood shoulder to shoulder with rap artist The Game before a crowd of hundreds, calling on local gangs to unite to end violence in communities of color.

The two efforts seem to be at cross purposes. But longtime civil rights activists say social justice movements are often multi-pronged with different strategies. 
    
"Groups will have many different approaches, and we really want to encourage people to engage in what they consider the most constructive," said Avis Ridley-Thomas of the Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles.

Since 1995, the group has hosted so-called "Days of Dialogue" meetings to mediate and resolve tensions behind community violence.

"We do know that dialogue works," Ridley-Thomas said. Her husband Mark is a Los Angeles County supervisor.
    
The recent nonviolence campaign arose in the wake of the recent shooting deaths of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota and the slayings of  five law enforcement officers in Dallas. The next morning, rappers Snoop Dogg and The Game staged an impromptu march with about 50 men to LAPD headquarters, coincidentally during the graduation ceremony of the latest class of recruits. The rappers met with Beck and held a joint press conference with Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti. Beck introduced their comments, calling it a press conference unlike any other.
    
"This is a day of change," said The Game. "Respect it, understand it, love it, embrace yourself with positivity."
    
"Our whole mission is to move in peace and to show that L.A. can be unified," Snoop Dogg said at the news conference.
    
Soon after, the two rappers issued an invitation for gang members to attend a unity conference on Sunday.

Between the rappers' march downtown July 8 and their unity event on Sunday, Black Lives Matter began its sit-in in response to a police commission ruling on last year's shooting death of Redel Jones.

Jones was shot and killed by LAPD officers who said she approached them with a knife after they confronted her while responding to a report of a robbery at a drug store. Last Tuesday, the commission ruled her death was in line with LAPD's use of force policy

The activists with Black Lives Matter have been occupying a plaza in front of City Hall East since July 12.

The group's aim for the sit-in is to get the Police Commission to fire Chief Beck, said Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah.

She said the Sunday event with Beck ,The Game and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti was focused on gang violence that stems from structural causes like poverty and unequal opportunity.

"Of course it was a wonderful boon for the mayor and police chief's P.R. campaign to be able to pull in people who have some legitimacy in the black community and pretend as if there is a relationship," Abdullah said.

In contrast, she said  Black Lives Matter is more focused on deaths at the hands of police, what she called "state-sanctioned violence."
    
She said her group "continues to invite" Snoop Dogg and The Game to work with Black Lives Matter organizers and with longtime local gang prevention experts.