LBC Reconciliation Framework Key to Anti-Racism Efforts
By Dianne Anderson
If seen to completion, an initial 112-page report of the city of Long Beach Racial Equity and Reconciliation Initiative features numerous goals, strategies and action items that community members say hold the key to end racial inequities and lack of access.
It’s all part of the city’s recognition of the need for policy change in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Black man killed last May by four Minneapolis police officers.
Presented earlier this month to Mayor and Council to review, the report is a culmination of two months of community member input into listening sessions, along with stakeholders that virtually convened to cover the steps needed to get anti-racist policies up and running.
Of those that participated in the framework, the report identifies 17% as Black, 25% white, 17% Latino, 50% female and 23% were males (many participants did not self report). Listening sessions included 560 participants, community members and stakeholders totaled 412 participants, along with 503 of city staff engaged.
Among the key findings in the area of Health Equity, 52.9% of the recommendations came in around public safety and policing, along with calls to defund the police and invest in community/social services.
Other suggestions focused on depending more on social workers and mental health professionals whenever possible at 18.5%. Participants wanted to see improvement in mandatory police trainings (de-escalation, mental health etc.), which came in at 13.4%.
Participants also called to have police engage neighborhoods and increase community outreach at 12.6%. Increased police accountability came in at 12.6%, along with a call to revamp the community oversight board at 10.9%.
Some remaining suggestions were to get LBPD out of LBUSD at 9.2%. Prison alternatives for nonviolent offender/ decriminalization of drugs came in at 8.4% and increase hiring diversity at 8.4%
The report calls attention to a myriad of ways to carve a path through policy to end systemic and structural racism.
Dawn Modkins, of Black Lives Matter LBC, said most of all, it’s important not to lose sight of the mission of the Black Lives Matter global movement, which is to end state violence.
“The primary reason for the conversation in the Black communities and the resulting recent uprisings is because of direct state violence at the hands of police,” said Modkins, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Long Beach, and participant of the reconciliation convening committee.
She said the local BLM is working with at least 20 families that have suffered state violence, or police murders, not including those who were beaten or shot by police, but didn’t die.
Excessive force and police killings also resulted in hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars that have been awarded to the victims’ families, she said, which has cost the city in more ways than money.
“Long Beach is a microcosm of what’s happening nationally. There’s a lot of power that police hold, and a lot of work that they do in these departments that is the work of other professions, that do not belong to them,” she said.
Defund the police means shifting police work to areas that are more effectively handled by social workers, health workers, departments that deal with homelessness, and Black-led organizations. She said youth and gang prevention is better than pushing resources toward intervention.
“Why do we have crossing guards under the police department?” she asks. “Shift those funds.
She emphasizes that money could be shifted from police in several ways that will keep the community safe and healthy.
“If they cut even six officers from the quality of life division unit, that’s nearly a $1 million that can go straight to the health department to beef up tools and resources they need to provide mental health work,” she said.
But she believes there are ways to repair the harm, starting with schools. She said the city schools are miserably failing Black students, with only about one third meeting benchmarks in Math and English. Less than half of Black students are meeting the A-G requirements in high school.
Development contracts constantly go out in the city, but not to Black people. She said the Project labor agreement must include specific language specifying that any primary contractor must prioritize and recruit Black contractors for work.
“We have brilliant contractors in construction, civil engineering, whatever they are, our contractors need the red tape cut when it comes time to get procurement opportunities,” she said.
She also envisions a Black Worker Center, something that may cost about $5 million to provide a one-stop-shop of resources in the community.
In recent decades, she said the nonprofit industrial complex has traditionally invested in the Latinx community with support for organizing work that excluded Black people. Scant money has trickled down for some efforts in the Black community, but usually for those with bureaucratic ties.
“[They] haven’t done the work to develop and address the inequities and disparities that our broader population is impacted by and dealing with. Now we have a gap of no organizing in any of our life areas,” she said.
Within the initial framework, about 15 pages of a Community Stakeholder Submission that the city identifies as “not part of the city’s recommended document,” but states the goals and recommendations were submitted later and added to the document.
Part of the top goals named in that Community Stakeholder Submission is ending systemic racism within local government through reviewing laws and city policies, city zoning and planning, and the impact on Black people and people of color.
They also call to update unconstitutional, outdated laws or laws with disproportionate impacts on low-income people or people of color. It includes a series of strategies to dismantle anti-racist practices.
“Reconciliation means that we affirm that systemic racism is real, it is harmful to our community, and the City of Long Beach has a responsibility to address it in an affirmative and concrete way by changing policies, institutional practices, municipal culture, and biases that have contributed to the significant harm that the Black communities and communities of color endure,” the community stakeholder submission states.
To see the report:
To provide recommendations, and follow up on reconciliation progress, see