In 1955, a contest was announced in the Los Angeles Police Department’s internal magazine, BEAT. The contest involved devising a motto for the Los Angeles Police Academy. The motto needed to be something that would succinctly express the ideals to which those who serve as Los Angeles Police Officers are dedicated.
The winning entry, “to protect and to serve”, was submitted by Officer Joseph S. Dorobek and served as the LAPD academy’s motto until, by City Council action, it became the official motto of the entire Los Angeles Police Department in 1963. It continues to appear on the Department’s patrol cars as a symbol of commitment to service.
“To protect and to serve” has become one of the most recognizable phrases in law enforcement. Throughout its almost 50 years of use, it has come to embody the spirit, dedication, and professionalism of the Officers of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Unfortunately for the people of Los Angeles in general, and Ezell Ford and his family in particular, they didn’t live up to that motto Monday evening, when the 24-year old black man, described by his family as “mentally challenged” was shot dead by police.
The shooting occurred about 8:20 p.m. Monday after an officer conducted “an investigative stop” in the 200 block of West 65th Street, according to an LAPD news release. During the stop, a “struggle ensued” and the officer shot the person, whom police did not identify.
Family members identified the man as 24-year-old Ezell Ford, who they described as “mentally challenged.” His mother, Tritobia Ford, told KTLA her son was complying with officers’ orders, and that the shooting was unjustified.
Her son, she said, was lying on the ground Monday night when he was shot in the back. He later died at an area hospital.
“My heart is so heavy because my family is close,” she said.
Now, some friends and family members are taking to Facebook organize a protest rally at 3 p.m. Sunday at LAPD’s headquarters.
At the end of that LA Times article, one statistic stood out:
There have been at least 303 people killed in officer-involved shootings since 2007, according to The Times’ Homicide Report database.
The eyes of the nation, and law enforcement decked out in para-military gear, have descended on Ferguson, MO, where unrest continues for a third day following the police-shooting death of 18-year old Michael Brown.
Aside from the horrific eyewitness accounts (which have reportedly not yet been heard by police!) the images of armored vehicles manned by machine gun-toting, camouflage and combat gear-wearing
police officers soldiers are scaring citizens.
I shared a few passages on the show this morning from an article by Paul Szoldra in Business Insider titled, “This Is The Terrifying Result Of The Militarization Of Police,” who likened the presence and artillery to his time in the Afghanistan war theater.
While serving as a U.S. Marine on patrol in Afghanistan, we wore desert camouflage to blend in with our surroundings, carried rifles to shoot back when under enemy attack, and drove around in armored vehicles to ward off roadside bombs.
We looked intimidating, but all of our vehicles and equipment had a clear purpose for combat against enemy forces. So why is this same gear being used on our city streets?
On Saturday, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man. In the days that have followed, the town with a population of about 21,000 has seen massive protests in response to the shooting, as some witnesses said Brown had his hands up when he was killed.
Putting aside what started the protests for a moment, it’s worth discussing the police response to the outrage. In photos taken Monday, we are shown a heavily armed SWAT team.
They have short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine, with scopes that can accurately hit a target out to 500 meters. On their side they carry pistols. On their front, over their body armor, they carry at least four to six extra magazines, loaded with 30 rounds each.
The St. Louis County Police, of which the Ferguson Police Dept is part, uses that same “Serve and Protect” motto, as seen on one of their cars.
Serve and protect? These days it seems as if our police are doing neither. Something must change, and fast.
Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars joined me on the show this morning, as she does every Wednesday. We spoke a bit about the tragic loss of Robin Williams and the shameful behavior of those who dare call him a coward or criticize his family for how they deal with their loss. We spoke about the sickening actions of those charged with serving and protecting their communities. And then, because we really, really needed it, we spoke about a wonderful story – that of a 13-year old leading her team into the Little League World Series. Yes, I said her team…
And finally, if you were driving on the Long Island Expressway this morning, chances are you had to be rescued from your submerged car!
More than two months worth of rain fell in two hours in New York’s Long Island suburbs on Wednesday, causing flash flooding and swamping cars on major roads that were turned into rivers during the morning rush hour.
A total of 13.26 inches (33 cm) was measured at Long Island’s MacArthur Airport in Islip, setting a preliminary statewide record for the most rainfall in one area in a 24-hour period, said Christopher Vaccaro, spokesman for the National Weather Service. The last such record of 11.6 inches (29 cm) was set in August 2011 in a Tannersville village during tropical storm Irene.
Parts of major commuter routes including the Long Island Expressway, the Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway, the Sunrise Highway and other roadways were closed due to flooding, police said. A train station parking lot was covered with at least two feet (61 cm) of water and multiple cars had been submerged up to their windows. Fire department boats were being deployed for rescue operations, according to National Weather Service reports.
I had already planned to talk with Desi Doyen of the Green News Report on the show this morning, only to be surprised – as was the NY/NJ area- by the massive downpour. We had already planned to talk about “Rapidly Warming Arctic Leading to Deadly Extreme Weather Events” before we knew we’d be having yet another one of those extreme weather events this morning!
And then there’s that pesky, deadly methane we’re starting to hear so much about.
Lots of people ignored James Hanson’s dire warning of what will happen if the oil from Canada’s tar sands is exploited as “game over for climate”. Perhaps his vernacular wasn’t strong enough or clear enough.
So this time, Desi and I spoke about the words of caution from Dr. Jason Box, climatologist and professor of glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland who has been studying the Arctic for decades. He tweeted his warning, strongly and succinctly:
If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.
— Jason Box (@climate_ice) July 29, 2014
Read more about what prompted that tweet and the science behind it here. If the world hasn’t imploded on us by then, I’ll be back tomorrow… with Harry Shearer talking Nixon’s the One, and another “No More Bullshit Minute” with Stephen Goldstein too… Radio or Not!