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LA Supervisors vote to place sheriff accountability measure on November 8 ballot

By Carlos Montes |
August 6, 2022
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 Members of the Check the Sheriff Coalition with families who have lost their s
Members of the Check the Sheriff Coalition with families who have lost their sons to LA Sheriff’s killings. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Los Angeles, CA - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted (4-1), August 2, to finalize the placement of a measure on the November 8, 2022 ballot, which, if approved, would amend the county charter to give the board the power to remove a sheriff for serious violations of the law.

After years of organizing, Black and Chicano groups like BLM-LA and Centro CSO, and civil rights groups like the ACLU, NLG, HERE Local 11, along with Black and Latino families of victims of sheriff's deputy violence successfully pushed the Board of Supervisors to support the amendment, paving the way towards community control of the police.

For decades, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has killed, jailed and brutalized Black and Chicano people with impunity. With the formation and organizing of the Check the Sheriff Coalition and support of over 100 community and labor groups the LA County Board of Supervisors finally voted to put it on the ballot.

The history of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is marred by violence and corruption that continues to this day. Multiple news reports and studies have confirmed the existence of "deputy gangs'' within the ranks and management of the LASD that promote harassment, killings and brutality within the department, in the jails, and in neighborhoods that deputies patrol, especially in Black and Chicano communities. Despite these reports, current Sheriff Alex Villanueva has refused to meaningfully address deputy violence, going as far as to defy lawful subpoenas issued by county oversight authorities.

In response, Black, Chicano, community, civil rights groups and Black and Latino families impacted by deputy violence formed the Check the Sheriff coalition, which published a list of demands for sheriff accountability, including this charter amendment.

"For over a decade, I’ve been fighting for an ounce of justice for my son who was beaten to death by sheriff’s deputies," says Helen Jones, mother of John Horton, who was killed by sheriff deputies in the LA jails in 2009. "Family after family, the sheriff’s department has brutally stolen our children’s lives. Enough is enough. We must hold the sheriff accountable once and for all."

The measure, if passed, would amend the charter to grant the Board of Supervisors the authority to remove the sheriff for cause by a four-fifths vote, after providing the sheriff an opportunity to be heard. The ballot language specifically defines cause to include violations of law related to a sheriff’s duties, flagrant or repeated neglect of duties, misappropriation of funds, willful falsification of documents, or obstructing an investigation.

LA County residents now have the opportunity to vote for some meaningful changes to local laws. It is a major step forward to hold the LA Sheriff accountable

Carlos Montes is a member of Centro CSO.