Mayor Eric Garcetti

Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke during a June 5 press conference about the city’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests and the coronavirus

Mayor Eric Garcetti has tapped Capri Maddox to lead the city’s first Department of Civil and Human Rights. 

“It’s time for a change,” Maddox said during a press conference. “It’s time for a change in Los Angeles and everywhere.”

Garcetti echoed that sentiment during a June 5 press conference in which he updated Angelenos on the city’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests and the coronavirus.

The city of Los Angeles and the LAPD has work to do, he said. “That’s what I believe as your mayor, but it’s what I believe as your neighbor.”

The new department will have a Civil and Human Rights Commission, where people can work to end discrimination and bring justice. Garcetti is hoping business, education and societal disparities will end. 

The department will enforce the LA Civil and Human Rights Ordinance, which was passed last year. It will include an Office of Racial Equity, which will conduct research outreach and policy development, and help apply an equity lens to how LA spends public dollars and how programs impact communities of color. 

Garcetti thanked council President Martinez; council members Herb J. Wesson Jr., Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Mitch O’Farrell; as well as the partner Community Coalition for their critical work in creating the department, which launches July 1. 

As of June 5, the National Guard began using fewer personnel in LA. Garcetti thanked the National Guard, saying, “We thank you for your service.”

Regarding BLM’s fight to end systemic racism, Garcetti hopes for Angelenos to find common ground. 

“We must not find the enemies among us; we have to find the enemies within us. We must act on the promise to eradicate racism in our hearts and our policies. To bring about a moment that is safe for all of us no matter our color, our neighborhood or our title.”

Garcetti praised the LAPD and the work that it does with its lives on the line. He mentioned there are people who don’t believe in the LAPD. Instead, they think the LAPD is an excuse for people to use bad behavior. In response to this, Garcetti said, “I won’t ever stop lifting up the stories, the heroic stories, of our police officers on our streets.”

This sharing of resources is another job to finish. About $250 million will be invested in jobs, community programs, healing for the black community, other communities of color and women. 

Garcetti has been working with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders across the county to bring all this work to Washington to create national legislation. The Hero’s Act, which has passed through the House of Representatives and is now on its way to the Senate, is as an example of what these kinds of investments can become. 

Garcetti called for the state and federal government with funds to join him and expand the community safety partnership, a program in which police officers volunteer and are put in communities for five years, where they and the neighborhood get to know each other. This way, the police aren’t seen as occupiers and form deep relationships with the people. Garcetti recalled officers who had this experience. They said, “This is why I became a police officer. This is who I am.” 

Furthermore, Garcetti supports proposals being put forward by the California Legislative Black Caucus to restore voting rights to those who are serving parole, to improve emergency response services for historically neglected communities and to seek reparations for the impact of slavery on African Americans. 

Garcetti also addressed the coronavirus’ impact on LA.

Angelenos should continue to use health precautions like social distancing, hand washing, wearing face masks and staying at home to prevent a second wave. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom released new state guidance that allowed many types of businesses to reopen as early June 12. However, ultimately, the County Department of Public Health will determine when it is safe to reopen those businesses in Los Angeles. 

In the meantime, many Angelenos have been using food delivery apps. However, those apps have been charging excessive fees to restaurants. In response to this, Garcetti has signed a City Council ordinance that will temporarily cap the fees to no more than 15% of the cost of the meal. Garcetti hopes this ordinance will help pay for more cooks, waiters, staff and jobs so restaurant businesses can survive the pandemic. 

The county has shown that key indicators are slightly increasing, including the transmission rate. Previously, Los Angeles had reduced its transmission rate to one or less than one. Now, it’s back on the rise. The County Department of Public Health anticipates that there are enough ventilators and regular hospital beds available to care for patients for the next four weeks. As for the BLM protesters, UCLA released guidance that says two to seven days after one has stopped protesting would be a good time to get a COVID-19 test. 

As of June 5, the county reported 1,145 new cases, bringing the total to 61,045 cases. Last week’s total was 51,000. That’s around a 10,000 increase in one week. In the city, there were 624 new cases, bringing the total to 28,297 cases. A week ago, the total was 24,261. There have been 36 new deaths countywide, bringing the total death toll to 2,565. During the week of June 5, there were 281 deaths, and 245 deaths the week before. Deaths were going down each week. This is the first week deaths have gone back up. 

“COVID is still here and it is still deadly. So if you’re out in a protest or planning to join a demonstration, please wear your mask, maintain your distance, protect yourself, protect everyone around you and your family and your loved ones,” Garcetti advised. 

Twenty-five city and county test sites have been open. As of June 5, they had the capacity to test 22,000 people. That includes all drive-thru sites, walk-in centers, and mobile test teams for the elderly at skilled nursing facilities. The LAFD, LAPD and Department of Transportation personnel have been redeploying to testing sites, and volunteers have been returning to serve. 

“I’m grateful to everybody who’s been working at a testing center saving lives for us this week,” Garcetti said. 

More than 50,000 people have been tested this week. 

“Good news and you need to get a test,” Garcetti said. 

The link is the best way to schedule an appointment for a test. 

During this time of pain and heart grievance, Garcetti advises Angelenos to turn toward faith and tradition for guidance and comfort. 

Garcetti looked to a Jewish prayer for peace: “We have not come into being to hate or to destroy. We have come into being to praise, to labor and to love.” 

“I praise these peaceful protests, and I’m proud to join their call for change. I will continue to labor to reform our budget. To find ways to support all safety for all people in this city. To reimagine a city that doesn’t just return to normal, and that gets through some of the most abnormal times we’ve ever experienced. And I’ll continue making those investments, reporting the hard truths, helping us try to find the common ground to heal. I know that love and light can get us through these dark days, but so must our actions. And regardless of our personal beliefs, we can never see ourselves only through the lens of division. We must never be defined solely by the limits of politics or partisanship or, as I said, the enemy outside. We must look to the truths inside, the simple solutions that won’t work, but the tough calls that can give us the hope for the future we deserve. And we have to keep our attention where it should be in stopping this pandemic and on honoring with action the memory of George Floyd and all the names of our fellow Americans, our fellow Americans. Because if we are to be one nation, we must make that a reality each and every day. The heroes that are inside each one of us, whether you’re marching on the streets or wearing a badge, whether you’re working in City Hall, or whether you’re out there at home right now watching and hoping for a better day, that is our common purpose and our common work. And we certainly need strength and love to complete it. So I wish that to you and your family tonight. Thank you, Los Angeles,” Garcetti closed.