Two local groups are forming to fight policy changes in local government organizations that are perceived as negatively impacting the community. One group of local parents, dissatisfied with the lack of progress within the Pasadena Unified School District had formed an organization to start a new school district in Altadena. The group set out to gather signatures on a petition to separate from the PUSD and has gathered 7,000 signatures, the number which is the amount necessary to move to the next step in the separation process.
The PUSD Board is implementing plans to close three schools in the Altadena area. This has given the group seeking to secede from PUSD encouragement to keep moving forward. The District's plans include the probable closure of Burbank, Loma Alta, and Jackson Schools. In addition, the district recently announced that it may consolidate the very popular Norma Coombs Alternative School and move it to Burbank School.
Parents opposed to the moving of Norma Coombs have been very vocal in opposition to the move. Part of the District's plans include moving the current District's offices on Hudson to one of the closing campuses, most likely Norma Coombs, and renting or leasing the current District offices. One parent has been quoted as saying that the District has placed the desires of the administrators over the needs of the children. Also, many have noticed the District's plans will primarily impact schools where there are African American principals.A second group made up of community activists from a variety of community organizations and citizens has been formed to combat an increase in attacks on African Americans by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The group calling itself, "The Law Enforcement and Community Watch" was formed to protest and combat the recent increased violence and excessive force actions of the Altadena Sheriff on Africans Americans.
This group has met and raised a number of questions about the new, aggressive actions of the Sheriff that seems to have begun with the arrival of the new Altadena Captain Steven Mclean. Mclean is the new captain replacing Captain Roosevelt Blow. The Law Enforcement and Community Watch have observed that the department seems to have transferred all deputies out of Altadena with strong ties with the community. This action preceded the seemingly sudden outburst of police aggression. The group raised questions about whether there has been a new policy implemented by Captain McLean encouraging the increased aggression in Altadena aimed at Black and Brown people.
Also discussed at the group's initial meeting was the fact that the Sheriff has participated in meetings with local Realtors, the Altadena Town Council members and the Sheriff support group. The question raised in conjunction with these meetings is whether there has been any discussion of a policy to target the Black and Brown residents, possibly for even a plan to reduce their numbers in Altadena.
The recent burning of a resident on the metal of a hot car has caused outrage in the community and has served as a rallying cry to local organizations and activists against the mistreatment of citizens. In addition, a recent increase in jay walking citations is being used as a trumped-up probable cause and a basis to stop citizens and create a police initiated emergency. The emergency then gives rise to an unwarranted arrest for alleged violation of Penal Code section 148, interfering with an officer in the performance of his duties. This ploy has been used even at locations where there are no marked crosswalks as required by Vehicle Code sections 275 and 21950.
The Law Enforcement and Community Watch group will initiate an action plan in the near future. The plan will include dissemination of instructions on filing complaints against officers who abuse their authority. Initial planning also includes a citizen's Academy on Law Enforcement.
For further developments, watch The Journal for future news and information.