Grievance Theater Night at the L.A. Police Commission

Last September, I wrote here on PJ Media on the abrupt departure of Paula Madison from the L.A. police commission. In discussing a controversial police shooting, Madison had made it a bit too clear that she was motivated by a racial grievance agenda, and in so doing she became a liability to Mayor Eric Garcetti. As I wrote at the time, “Mayor Garcetti does not necessarily object to his police commissioners being motivated by a racial agenda, but he insists that they be more guarded about it in their public pronouncements.”

So out the door she went, leaving it to Mayor Garcetti to appoint entertainment attorney Matthew Johnson to fill what we might call the black seat on the panel. Johnson was promptly voted in as president of the commission and now serves as its front man during what for it has been a tumultuous time. The commission holds its public meetings every Tuesday morning, and at these meeting members of the LAPD, most often headquarters types, make presentations, usually accompanied by PowerPoint slides, on matters which both the presenters and the commissioners pretend to understand. Members of the public are invited to speak for two minutes on agenda items, and are required to submit a written request before being allowed to speak.

All well and good, in theory if not always in practice. Rather than serving as an exercise in open, participatory governance, the commission meetings have devolved into farce, with the meetings regularly disrupted by protesters who defy calls for them to behave themselves. A typical scenario goes like this: at the time designated for public comment, BLM protesters, having submitted their cards, take turns at the microphone trying to outperform the previous speaker. When they talk beyond their allotted two minutes, Mr. Johnson gives them several warnings, including multiple “last warnings,” before asking a handful of beleaguered police officers to escort the person back to his seat or, in the case of the more obstreperous ones, out of the room. But the officers are under strict orders not to lay a hand on anyone, so things often turn into comical ballets in which a speaker dances around and continues to heckle the commission while the officers try to coral him without touching them. This brings an uproar from the offending speaker’s cohort, who themselves begin to chant and carry on, forcing the commission to interrupt the meeting and clear the room. This happens nearly every week.