Excessive Force Must End Now 

The tragic murder of George Floyd demands a meaningful and serious approach to the issue of excessive force, not only here in Venice, but across the country.

Too many times before, when demonstrations and protests subsided, governments failed to respond. Like most tragedies, the initial response is one of rage and emotion, but lacking plans for the serious change that solves the problem. Excessive force is an epidemic within a pandemic: acknowledged, but rarely, if ever, confronted.

Here in Los Angeles, we have seen this scourge occur right here in Venice with little done about it! Our mayor and councilman will make proclamations of rage, which is only verbal support that is never serious or reliable.

Statements and press conferences are not solutions. They are political cover for those who are incapable and ineffective in approach and deed.

So what can be done?

The city of Los Angeles and the state of California can offer real solutions that can virtually end excessive force overnight:

• Those officers guilty of excessive force not only need to be terminated, but their pensions must be forfeited to the victims’ families. These individuals must also be banned from ever working for a private security firm, much less another law enforcement agency.

• Psychological and psychiatric testing on an annual basis must be implemented, and this testing must be made mandatory, outside the scope of collective bargaining.

• A “zero tolerance” agreement must be signed by every police officer and law enforcement employee. Violation of this agreement must result in termination.

• Height to weight compliance must be honored by officers during their entire career. Failure to maintain these mandates must result in forced retirement.

• Moving forward, police departments must begin the process of residency requirements so that officers reflect the neighborhoods they serve.

• Police departments must require educational standards such as a college degree. They must also actively recruit honorably discharged men and women in military service, where diversity is common practice.

• Police departments must actively recruit women officers so they may break the culture of many departments that are tone deaf to the issue at hand.

• Departments not only must encourage diversity but also consider work forces that have a 1:1 ratio of male to female officers.

• The recruitment process needs to be more professional and reach those with not only physical prowess but also those with academic excellence who would consider a career in law enforcement.

This is just a small sample of proposals that can and will end excessive force among the ranks of police departments across the country. The question is, will we as citizens hold those in positions of authority accountable to make the changes necessary for meaningful and immediate reform among the ranks.

The days of excessive force as an accepted norm must end now.

Nick Antonicello

Venice

Notes from Noreen: Sounds of Pain

I know local journalism is under siege at the moment, with eroding budgets, dismantling of staff, and the question, “Do people even read The Argonaut anymore?” pervading. But your role has never been more critical in these times of swirling disinformation and fake news: You need to publish my innocuous public bellyaching.

The streets are alive with the sound of pain, and I’m hiking up my bathrobe and veering into the fracas face-first and mask-free. Being an elderly woman perceptibly confused and infirmed, I was completely ignored by both police and protesters, respectively looming and crooning in Santa Monica this week. My white privilege flag hoisted high, I was largely unbothered by anyone. Senior neglect and social isolation is a serious problem afflicting the elderly population. But in this case, I used it to my advantage.

The first establishment I looted was a flower shop. I bounded over the gnarled security gate crumpled on the glass-strewn sidewalk with armfuls of in-season gladiolas and several packets of heirloom geranium seeds soundly stuffed down my adult diaper. To my shock and astonishment, I found I was the only one dragging sacks of potting soil back to my hoopty. I also was the only looter armed with a blunderbuss.

I’ve long been a supporter of mindless mob mentality. The rising vitriol that spills over into vapid volume and violence. The Salem Witch Trials were my jam. And my lungs have long been accustomed to noxious tear gas due to decades of ’40s-era Surgeon General-condoned chronic smoking. I wheeze haughty derision at your attempts to disperse me. And my opossum-like dentures gnaw through your zip-ties like so much old-person food. Oatmeal, I guess.

Kindly National Guardsmen took my elbow and courteously guided me away from the fray with pleas punctuated with profuse “pleases” and “mams.” They, too, were looted. I clutch my pearls as I tighten them around the throat of some jackbooted riffraff. I now have more pilfered flash-bang grenade pins then I know what to do with. I also imagine they’ll need the keys for those armored vehicles which happen to be snug in my granny pants pocket right now. Nimble arthritic fingers, have I.

I’ve borne witness to vast throngs of humanity clamoring for the right to exist before. Watts and Rodney and Lakers 2010. I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of blood in human veins. But never have I seen such a rising ocean of obstinacy swell against a system of oppression like this. Diverse but determinedly single-voiced: We matter.

Blood sugar low from skipping my lunch of just Ensure and peanut brittle and sufficiently confident I’ve silently spread COVID enough for a day, I removed myself from the melee and headed home Westchester-way. Surprisingly, I was unaffected by the imposition of the countywide curfew. I’m indoors before the sun dips under the horizon anyway. For that’s Noreen’s “Jeopardy” time.

The COVID sets in for the night and wrings my feeble lungs out.

Who cannot breathe, Alex?

Justice for $200.

Noreen “Blood Type: Cod Liver Oil” Petrichor

Westchester Crank

(Notes from Noreen arrive occasionally in the editor’s inbox. She may be fictional, but
nobody’s perfect.)

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