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Letter to the Pasadena City Council Public Safety Committee

Posted by Pasadena CSC on Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The following letter is submitted to the Pasadena City Council Public Safety Committee, in advance of the rescheduled Wednesday, June 10, 2020 meeting to discuss civilian oversight of the Pasadena Police Department.

Public comments can be submitted online prior to or at the start of the meeting (1 PM); select “Public Safety Committee”, agenda item 1. The meeting itself can be viewed in real-time at pasadenamedia.org.

Pasadena Public Safety Committee
c/o Mark Jomsky, City Clerk
100 Garfield Avenue
Pasadena CA 91101

The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition (PasCSC) advocates for public spaces that are safe, comfortable and serve the needs of the community.

We believe streets should belong to everyone; however, in Pasadena, they do not. For Black people, the streets are deadly in ways they are not for other Americans. Black people are harassed, injured, or killed at higher rates while walking, jogging, biking, driving — just for being on the streets.

Already, Pasadena has a pattern of systemic racism baked into our streets-related infrastructure, with deadly consequences: from redlining, to the “Negro removal” policies that enabled our 710 and 210 freeways, to our failure to invest in street infrastructure and transit serving Black communities, to the higher asthma, heart disease, and COVID-19 rates suffered by Black people who are exposed at greater rates to car pollution, inadequate housing, health care, financial instability, and the daily fear of being detained, chased, harassed, and killed.

We recognize that traffic enforcement is used disproportionately against Black and Brown people in our community. For that reason, PasCSC decided not to pursue our 2016 proposal that the City adopt Vision Zero, a program to reduce fatalities and serious injuries from traffic violence. We realized the proposed program could become problematic because one of the elements of Vision Zero is police enforcement of traffic laws. We are aware of communities across the US that have emphasized enforcement over a range of other proven options to ensure traffic safety.

Based on the cases of Kendrec McDade and Reginald Thomas — and reinforced, since that time, by the attack on Christopher Ballew — we were concerned that a program that could increase or validate police violence against people of color in our community would be a mistake, and one that we did not want to instigate or perpetuate.

PasCSC has continued to work with the individual officers assigned each year to the Traffic Safety Division. The officers change annually, forcing us to start at square one with each. Each time, we have had to educate the police officer on the concept that people being killed by vehicles is preventable, not inevitable, and that those people are victims. While this may seem basic, the fact is, the officers (and the public) tend overwhelmingly to blame the victims instead of holding accountability for those who cause traffic injuries and deaths.

We urge you to carefully consider the proposals that are being put forth by groups who have been working on this issue for many years, including the NAACP Pasadena, Black Lives Matter organizations in Pasadena, and the Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of the Pasadena Police.


For the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition

Tags: Black Lives Matter, systemic racism

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