Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Racism Is Over? Two Counter-examples From Los Angeles

I was struck by two recent news stories in the Los Angeles Times which to me seem to reflect the reality of the salience of race and racism in the lives of African American men in Los Angeles.

From "LAFD firefighter wins $1.1 million racial discrimination verdict":
A civil court jury on Monday returned a $1.1 million verdict against the City of Los Angeles, finding in favor of a black firefighter who said he had been discriminated against during a nearly three-decade career because of his race. 
The verdict comes after 16 days of deliberation — and six years after another jury ruled against Jabari S. Jumaane, who alleged a pattern of racial bias, harassment and retaliation in the Los Angeles Fire Department when he worked as a fire inspector. That decision was overturned after an appeals court granted a new trial, agreeing that there had been jury misconduct in the original case. 
According to a 2012 report by the city’s office of the independent assessor on fire department litigation, Jumaane’s allegation of jury misconduct included a declaration by a juror who “claimed to have witnessed racially motivated misconduct by fellow jurors.”
The retrial jury’s ruling is a blow to a department that has found itself accused of systematic discrimination — particularly against black firefighters — in the past.
And "Judge accuses UCLA police of brutality":
David S. Cunningham III is a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, and a onetime federal civil rights attorney. 
But on Saturday morning, he found himself handcuffed in the back of a UCLA police car. Officers had pulled him over as he was driving his Mercedes out of his Westwood gym — because, the police said, he wasn't wearing his seat belt. 
What happened next is a matter of dispute, but it ended with the African American judge yelling to a growing crowd in the heart of Westwood Village about police brutality. 
Cunningham, 59, has now filed an excessive force complaint with the university, and his attorney said Monday that he believed race was a factor in how the judge was treated. 
"Do you think this would have happened if he was a white judge?" said the attorney, Carl Douglas. 
UCLA officials said the officers handcuffed Cunningham when he disobeyed their order to stay inside his car while they checked his driver's license and registration.
Do you see the common factors between the two stories?

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