On Thursday, June 17th, 2021, L.A. County Judge Mary Strobel tentatively ruled against the will of over 2.1 million voters who overwhelmingly said yes on Measure J—a ballot measure passed in L.A. County last November which allocates at least 10% of the County’s locally generated, unrestricted funding to address racial injustice through community investments—siding with police associations who fear oversight and reduction of law enforcement budgets. This ruling clearly demonstrates the judiciary’s vested interest in maintaining the status quo and going against the majority of LA County voters’ demands for changes to public safety and investment into community-based services.
The Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (“ALADS”), a law enforcement special interest group, is undermining the will of both LA County voters and the Board of Supervisors (“the Board”) to prioritize and reallocate funding into services, not incarceration. Judge Strobel’s decision to uphold the challenge tentatively is a threat to the Board’s future power and authority to put initiatives on the ballot.
Isaac Bryan, California State Assembly Member representing the 54th District, “Today’s tentative ruling is the result of a direct attempt to subvert the will of the people. Voters spoke loud and clear in November. We deserve a budget that reflects our values and we deserve a more sustainable investment in care, opportunity, and our young people. I have complete confidence that the will of the people will ultimately prevail and that the justice that so many died, marched and voted for is still within our reach.”
Today’s tentative ruling is the result of a direct attempt to subvert the will of the people.”Assemblymember Isaac Bryan, 54th State Assembly District
ALADS depends on status quo budgeting because they benefit and profit from a carceral system that criminalizes and dehumanizes our most vulnerable communities. Today, L.A. County spends 42% of taxpayer money on law enforcement and the legal system. Angelenos overwhelmingly passed Measure J last November because they know that Los Angeles is the epicenter of mass incarceration in the United States.
Melina Abdullah, Co-founder, Black Lives Matter- Los Angeles, “It is shameful that on the very day Juneteenth was made a federal holiday, Judge Mary Strobel would issue a ruling that rolls back freedom. Measure J was overwhelmingly passed by Los Angeles County voters because Angelenos want a County that provides resources, rather than overspending on carceral systems. To use an excuse that voters must be beholden to future legislative bodies is a slap in the face to the people and to the legacy of Black freedom struggle. We will not let this ride.”
The County has the power to make meaningful change that aligns with our communities’ demands. Law Enforcement budgets directly lead to punishing people in deadly cages. ALADS do not provide protections to our community, they provide protection to the carceral state and officers who perpetuate violence, racism and white supremacy. ALADS claim to protect police in support of public safety, but the statistics say the opposite.
Megan Castillo, Coordinator, Re-Imagine L.A. Coalition, “People in L.A. County—especially Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, those working minimum wage jobs, seniors, young people trying to learn new skills, people without access to mental health care services, and those who are excluded from stable housing—are being crushed by the judiciary’s attempt to maintain a status quo budget that continues to deny them resources and opportunities.”
Our communities want public safety that meets our needs and serves us holistically. Communities across the County voted for these spending changes in November, and participated in the subcommittee process to create powerful recommendations that advance our community goals and visions.
Ivette Ale, Senior Policy Lead, Dignity and Power Now, “This is not optional. In fact, the Board has the authority to fund direct community investments and alternatives to incarceration without the mandate of Measure J. Angelenos have made it clear where they want their tax dollars to go and with this lawsuit, it’s clear that the sheriffs’ will do anything they can to undermine LA County voters.”