On July 3, members of the South Central Los Angeles community gathered at the Newton Division Police Station to demand justice for the community in the wake of a major explosion caused by the June 30 failed detonation of a cache of seized illegal fireworks. The explosion injured 17 people. The key demand was “Defund the Police” immediately by 20% and redirect funds to compensate for the victims of the explosion.
Directing their demands to the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department, organizations such Coalition for Community Control over Police and supporting members from organizations like ACCE and the Party for Socialism and Liberation were in attendance.
On June 30, LAPD seized a cache of illegal fireworks from a South Los Angeles home, and what was meant to be a controlled detonation by LAPD, failed and resulted in a major explosion that left 17 people injured including police officers.
The speakers at the press conference highlighted that this example of blatant LAPD terrorism of Black and Brown families was made possible by huge police budgets and is another example of the overpolicing and economic inequality around the area.
Central Alameda Neighborhood Council President Alfredo Gama said, “The criminals, as they [police] would call them, were keeping the [neighborhood] safer than they were.” Gama also asked whether similar carelessness from LAPD would be seen in cities like Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, both high income areas.
Another speaker, Martha Sanchez, a marriage and family therapist, described the moment of explosion. Sanchez described that she was in the middle of an online session when the explosion happened and was left deeply shaken. She highlighted the need for trauma services for residents who find themselves struggling to cope in yet another act of violence from LAPD.
LAPD has made repeated statements recently that were contradicted by eyewitnesses and residents, who stated that LAPD did not alert the neighborhood that such a large-scale “planned” detonation would take place right in the middle of a densely populated area. However, since the illegal bombing, neither the City of Los Angeles or LAPD have made any official inquiries or communicated with affected residents despite attempts to file claims about property damage and other injuries.
Community leaders and activists expressed the belief that this bombing and attack happened in their community because it is a predominantly Black and Brown low-income neighborhood. The community has been in constant struggle against ongoing gentrification efforts, with only minimal pandemic relief and higher than average occupancies. South Central Los Angeles was at the forefront of last summer’s uprising against police violence in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. Community members have very recent memories of the killings of people like Dijon Kizzee, Andres Guardado and others.
Residents assert that police officers told them in passing to file a claim with their homeowners’ insurance or return to their homes until instructed otherwise. Because of this flippant attitude displayed by LAPD, calls for more direct community oversight and accountability were issued at the press conference by speakers such as Cliff Smith of the Coalition for Community Control over Police and supporting members from organizations like ACCE and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
This community, already marginalized by the capitalist system, sees itself victimized once more. But like its rich history in the struggle for justice against police brutality, the struggle for justice will continue until it has been won.
Feature image: Liberation screen shot of media coverage of press conference.