By Veronica Mackey
A controversial decision to purchase an armored vehicle for the Inglewood Police Department and pressure to release information about a year-old police shooting, which ended in the deaths of a young couple, drew harsh reactions from residents at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The public session ended with Mayor James Butts and council members walking out.
People packed the council chamber to express their discontent over the armored car purchase.
“We’re not one of those cities that is overflowing in crime,” Aldene Sligh said. “I haven’t seen anything that is happening in Inglewood that would require militarized vehicles. There’s so many other things that that money could have been used for.”
“What message does this send to the citizens? Not of safety but a war zone,” another woman said. “Have you gone to the public and asked if they want armored vehicles on the streets, pursuing our citizens? Do you want the police to come across as an occupying army? Shame on you!”
The armored car purchase led to cries for the City to release information about what happened to Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin on Feb. 21, 2016. The couple were killed by police as they sat in a car. They were reportedly unconscious at one point, and police say Michael had a gun in her lap.
For the past 4 weeks, family and friends of the couple have made their presence known inside and outside Inglewood City Hall. Black Lives Matter and Holy Faith Episcopal Church are among the organizations calling for details of the incident which involve 5 Inglewood police officers.
Investigations are currently being conducted by the Inglewood Police Department and L.A. County District Attorney’s Office. Mayor Butts said the police investigation should be finished in about one or two weeks. There is no timetable with regard to the District Attorney’s investigation.
Kisha Michael’s sister said her family is still waiting for answers. “I’m going to be here every Tuesday, to let you know,” she told the mayor.
“The last time I spoke, I asked for a use of force policy,” a member of Holy Faith Episcopal Church said, holding a copy in her hand. “The policy looks like it was revised in September. I will be reviewing both policies to see if there’s been a change.”
“This report needs to go to the public. There are people in your community who are concerned about actions of the police. There are people in this community who want to know. You are required to make this information public because you were hired to serve them,” another woman said.
At times during the meeting, members of the audience shouted out while others directed their anger toward the council. One man was heckled and called an “Uncle Tom” when he said police are the ones people call when they are in trouble.
A member of Black Lives Matter- LA said. “Crime has steadily gone down for the last 40 years. It’s not because of more law enforcement; it’s been because of birth control. There are fewer people to commit crimes.” She called for the City to invest more money in residents and less in law enforcement. “We need elder care and we need to do something with our children,” she said.
The woman began chanting, “People, not police,” which the audience echoed. Emotions ran high and the tone of the meeting turned into a rally. At this point, Mayor Butts and council members left the council chambers without a word. The Seargeant at Arms told everyone the meeting was adjourned.
Earlier, council members took action to approve a contract for Rosa Lowinger and Associates in the amount of $229,600, to be used for the Monumental Art Restoration of Skedans by Tony DeLap.
Approval was also given to amend the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget, authorizing the use of General Fund Reserves in the amount of $50,000 for improvement of medians along Manchester Boulevard.
A $115,050 payment from the Residential Sound Insulation Department for Karabuild Development, Inc. will be reversed and charged to the General Fund as a non-departmental expense.
A public hearing was set for April 18, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. to receive input on the availability of nonprofit transportation service providers to provide paratransit services for eligible residents.