November 19, 2020

SMCLC responds to LA Magazine report on Santa Monica looting

The current issue of LA Magazine includes in-depth and highly critical reporting revealing that our city’s response to the organized criminal looting of May 31 was even worse than we thought:
• The facts “significantly undermine the argument made by our city officials . . . that they were overwhelmed by forces beyond their control.”

• “Rather, the evidence shows that incompetence, inexperience, and a failure to respond to clear warning signs played a major role in what outside experts believe were a largely preventable catastrophe.”

• Small businesses calling the City for help were told “You’re on your own.”

• Largely peaceful demonstrators against racism were confronted by police and many arrested, while unconnected criminal gangs of looters were “moving around with impunity.” 

Who bears responsibility for the failures in planning for and responding to the foreseeable events detailed in LA Magazine? Not just Chief Renaud who was recently pressured by City Hall to retire.

Scapegoating Chief Renaud won’t solve the systemic problems at City Hall where LA Magazine found a top down failure of leadership and transparency.

This isn’t about rank and file police officers. There was both a lack of experienced leadership in the department and no citywide emergency plan in place. City Hall and the current Council didn’t exercise their duty of care to inquire about a city plan and whether the police department had enough experienced leadership to respond to such an emergency.

There has also been a related failure to be transparent or to timely acknowledge mistakes.

Councilmember Sue Himmelrich has been a strong exception on the current City Council. Too often she has been the lone voice for accountability, asking the tough questions we expect of our elected representatives. Himmelrich was the first councilmember, in the immediate aftermath, to call for an independent investigation into what went wrong on May 31.

But there is hope. Make no mistake, on November 3rd Santa Monica sustained a welcomed political earthquake. Residents, unhappy with the current City Council, elected a slate of 3 newcomers—Phil Brock, Christine Parra, and Oscar de la Torre—all of whom SMCLC supported. Residents did so because they want a new Council leading our City in a new, responsible direction. One of independence from rubber stamping unwise staff recommendations, one that’s accountable to our community and will put the brakes on overdevelopment and public land giveaways to privately owned companies. A Council unafraid to tackle pension reform and crime and adopt public policies that keep our city livable. It’s time.

Please take a look at LA Magazine’s reporting. For now, it’s the most complete accounting of the May 31 events that residents have been provided.

Full LA Magazine article click here