Too little, too late
Too little too late
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has quietly revised the Sheriff’s Department’s nighttime release policy, a move that comes more than a year after the discovery of the remains of Mitrice Richardson, an honors student at Cal State Fullerton who was arrested by deputies for failing to pay a bill at a Malibu restaurant in September 2009, then released from custody shortly after midnight without a phone, money or a car. Richardson’s skeletal remains were found 11 months later in a wooded area less than six miles from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.
Following a Nov. 9 meeting with Pasadena women’s rights advocates Gerda Govine-Ituarte and Shirley Spencer, an officer with the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area, Richardson’s psychiatrist, Ronda Hampton, and her aunt, Lauren Sutton, Baca announced that the department’s nighttime release policy had been changed back in May, which was news to Richardson’s family and friends, according to Spencer.
Titled “Property Retained at Time of Arrest,” the policy reads: “The arresting deputy shall, when practicable, book with the arrestee certain personal items or items of personal identification in possession of the arrestee at the time of arrest (e.g. driver license, passport, credit cards, cellular telephone, etc.) when the items would provide proof of identification and/or facilitate the identification/booking or release procedure.”
Richardson’s friends and family members said Baca’s policy change is not enough. They called for an independent committee to investigate the death and the circumstances surrounding it. They also called for the disbanding of the Office of Independent Review, a county agency that reviews incidents involving the Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies. The OIR investigated the performances of sheriff’s personnel involved in the Richardson case and found that, while things could have been done better, the deputies did nothing improper in processing Richardson at the lockup and later releasing her.
Too little too late?
Too little too late?
In this week after Christmas, an army of volunteer workers
is putting last-minute touches on all those spectacular flower-laden floats for
Tuesday morning’s 119th Rose Parade.
But unlike other times, this year’s parade will feature additional,
politically tinged events that Tournament of Roses Association officials
neither wanted nor adequately anticipated, namely those sparked by the
inclusion of a float honoring the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing that is being
sponsored by Pasadena-based Avery Dennison Corp. — which does a booming
business in China — and formally backed by the Chinese government.
Some argue that the Rose Parade, much like the Olympics, is
an international affair, one featuring floats, bands, personalities and
performers from other countries, but not political.
They say this even though the parade’s grand marshals over
the past six or seven decades have included an American president, a vice
president who became president, Supreme Court justices, foreign dignitaries, local
politicians and an assortment of public officials and military figures.
If the demonstrations in Pasadena up until now over this
float — and the ones sure to come over China’s abysmal human rights
record in the months leading up to the Olympic Games — do not disprove
both of these contentions, then probably nothing ever will.
The fact is both events are highly political occasions, and
have always been so to varying degrees. Only this year the distance separating
the pomp from the politics of both the Rose Parade and the Olympics isn’t as
easy to bridge as it’s been in years past, primarily because China, for all the
wealth it offers American businesses, remains a brutal totalitarian regime that
cares nothing for human rights or even the welfare of its own citizens.
This isn’t the first time the Tournament has found itself
enmeshed in political controversy over a controversial selection. In 1991, the
organization came under fire after choosing Cristobol Colon, a Spanish duke and
ancestor of Christopher Columbus, to lead the 1992 parade. That year marked the
500th anniversary of the “discovery” of the New World by Columbus, and Colon’s
selection seemed to fit the theme, “Voyages of Discovery.”
Only this time out, it would be the
Tournament discovering something: That people of color —
ancestors of the first folks Columbus met then enslaved and then killed —
weren’t thrilled with Columbus or that choice. Nor were most other people very
happy to learn that up to that point the Tournament was actually
comprised of what former Councilman Rick Cole accurately described as a bunch
of “aging white men.”
To its credit, the Tournament quickly recognized its critics
and set about appeasing them, first by selecting Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the
only Native American in Congress, to be in the parade as co-grand marshal, and
then opening its ranks to women and minorities.
But nothing like that happened this time around. When the
first hints of protest to the Chinese-backed float surfaced in June following
our story on the reaction from practitioners of Falun Gong, a movement that is
banned in China and whose members living in China are detained and executed,
Tournament officials assumed a bunker mentality, taking refuge in their own
substantial rose garden on Orange Grove Boulevard.
Today, in the final moments leading up to the parade, and
with other religious and human rights groups lining up behind local Falun Gong
members, Tournament and city officials are only now considering some sort of
compromise in order to let the parade — and that float — go on its
Whether that’s a pre-parade demonstration or something else,
we do not yet know. We only hope these half-hearted last-minute gestures of
recognition are not too little late.