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The 23rd Annual Empowerment Congress was a celebration

EC-EEE-LOGO-copy-245x300I had the pleasure of attending the 23rd Annual Empowerment Congress at USC.  I’ve never been to one and for a newbie, I was quite excited.  Of course seeing Dr. Cornell West’s name blazing across the headline was quite a draw, but the person I was most interested in seeing and hearing from was our newly elected Sheriff Jim McDonnellHE was the main reason I was there.

Loyal readers may recall I was not too fond of Sheriff McDonnell’s candidacy during the election.  In fact, I supported his opponent.  However, it was at the conference that I realized the full impact of what his election meant to the community.  Was I wrong in how I was portraying him?

The journey to oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department began a while ago.   Between the cries from the 2nd Supervisorial District residents, to the countless news headlines, police brutality has been a long standing issue, dating back to post slavery.  Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was listening to the people but didn’t have the support on the dais to get the business handled.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas did gain the support of his then colleague, Gloria Molina, but it wasn’t enough.   That’s where the Empowerment Congress was able to get the ball rolling.

The 21st Empowerment Congress held a workshop titled Making Los Angeles County Law Enforcement Accountable which brought together a distinguished panel, to hear from the people themselves.

How impactful that in a short two year timeframe, the people were victorious in not only being at the table to voice concerns, but to also register voters, who ultimately voted in a new Sheriff?  A Sheriff that fully supports the establishing of the oversight committee, that the community has longed for.  We must also acknowledge and thank Supervisor’s Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl for their affirmative votes.  We wouldn’t be here without them.

I can better appreciate the huge step Sheriff McDonnell has taken in making the department more transparent.  In addition to supporting oversight, he will be making information involving officer related shootings more accessible to the public and is making moves to enhance the jail experience of inmates and bring balance to hiring practices.  I can also better appreciate the impact the Empowerment Congress has on its community.

The 23rd Empowerment Congress was a celebration, of the people’s victory in bringing incremental change to the Sheriff’s department.

Am I doing a full 180 on the Sheriff?  No.  Am I more willing to sit back and observe more quietly?  Yes.  This awesome op-ed I located on the San Gabriel Valley Tribune sums up my feelings.  I am willing to give Sheriff McDonnell the opportunity to work with the community and so should others. See you next year at the 24th Annual Empowerment Congress!

Related article:  L.A. County sheriff must show evidence of reforms


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About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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