Robert Farrell • Lance Simmens
With the rise of white supremacy acts of violence coupled with the continuing incidents of violence against African-Americans by law enforcement and the continuing bias in incarceration rates a thorough study, evaluation, and analysis of racism with recommendations for legislative remedies to combat it is in order. A template for such an evaluation already exists. In 1968 a Presidential Commission, the National Commission on Civil Disorders chaired by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, and henceforth known as the Kerner Commission, concluded that “our nation is moving towards two societies, one black and one white–separate and unequal.” With the recent inequities occurring at our southern border, with privatized detention centers and charges that we are operating concentration camps, we may very well be headed towards three societies, one white, one black, and one brown. Thus we need to amend the charge of the commission to include immigration policy. A draft resolution will be discussed in this panel session.
Lance Simmens: Over a nearly four-decade career in senior level political, policy, and governmental positions he has served two US presidents (Carter and Clinton), two US Senators, two prominent Governors, the US Conference of Mayors, the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, the President’s Commission on Y2K Conversion, and led statewide efforts in California to stop fracking and directed the Citizen’s Trade Campaign to defeat the Trans Pacific Partnership. He is the author of The Evolution of a Revolution and Fracktured, an anti-fracking novel. In Fall 2018 Simmens ran for Malibu City Council and was unsuccessful in his election bid. However, he has recently been appointed Public Works Commissioner for the City of Malibu to help with the massive rebuilding effort underway in response to the Woolsey Fire. Simmens serves as First Vice-President of the Malibu Democratic Club and is a former President of the Malibu Adamson House Foundation. Since moving to Malibu a little over 4 years ago he has been very active in local politics and continues to write regularly for the LA Progressive. Previously he was a contributing writer for Huffington Post, where he authored over 350 articles.
Robert Farrell served on the Los Angeles City Council for most of two decades before retiring in 1991, and he was generally admired for his idealism and for his canniness. Bob began his career in politics while in college at UCLA, helping to elect Joel Wachs — himself a veteran of renown — to his first office: student body president of UCLA. Farrell was a Freedom Rider, challenging segregationist laws in the South by traveling on public transportation. Over the course of his 17 years on the City Council, Farrell championed South African divestment, neighborhood organization and an ambitious Jobs With Peace initiative. Since retiring from the City Council, Farrell has been a leader on racial and social justice issues throughout Southern California, helping to lead such organizations as the Black-Brown Clergy Coalition and the Black-Jewish Justice Coalition.
Robert Farrell served on the Los Angeles City Council for most of two decades before retiring in 1991 and he was generally admired for his idealism and for his canniness. Bob began his career in politics while in college at UCLA, helping to elect Joel Wachs – himself a veteran of renown – to his first office: student body president of UCLA. He was a member of CORE – the Congress on Racial Equality – challenging segregation in Westwood and Los Angeles. As a Freedom Rider, he challenged segregationist laws in the South by traveling on public transportation. Over the course of his 17 years on the City Council, Farrell was a member of Mayor Tom Bradley’s team, championed South African divestment, neighborhood improvement and organization, and an ambitious Jobs With Peace initiative. A three-time delegate to Democratic National Conventions (Jesse Jackson 1984, 1988; Bernie Sanders 2016). He served on the Democratic National Committee and its Executive Committee (founder of the Democratic Municipal Officials). He was active in organizations like SCAG, the National League of Cities, and its National Back Caucus Local Elected Officials. Since retiring from the City Council, Farrell has been a leader on racial and social justice issues throughout Southern California, helping to lead such organizations as CLUE’S Black-Jewish Justice Coalition, the Black Community Clergy Labor Alliance, the UMOJA Center, BAPAC, NAACP, ADASoCal, and the Progressive San Pedro, and MLK Jr. Democratic Clubs.
RESOLUTION ON ESTABLISHMENT OF A PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON RACISM
WHEREAS, there are increasing instances of violence affecting communities both large and small across a broad swath of geographical areas of this country that shock and heighten awareness that racial attitudes may play an integral role in such violence; and
WHEREAS, there is a growing awareness that in many instances white law enforcement officials have been captured on video using what appears to be excessive force upon unarmed black citizens; and
WHEREAS, in all of the affected communities complaints within minority populations of systematic harassment, profiling, and injustice exhibited by largely white dominated power structures is a common thread for popular unrest; and
WHEREAS, continuing disparities in educational achievement, economic opportunity, quality of life, and safety issues between white and minority populations is a prevalent theme while a continuing assault on voting rights is being legislatively and judicially promoted in a growing number of states; and
WHEREAS, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly known as the Kerner Commission, identified many of the same problems being discussed today in its 1968 report which concluded that the nation “was moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal”; and
WHEREAS, the Kerner Commission report also stated that “segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans”; and
WHEREAS, the Commission also reported that “the civil disorders of 1967 involved Negroes acting against local symbols of white American society, authority and property in Negro neighborhoods—rather than against white persons”; and
WHEREAS, the Commission report identified 12 deeply held grievances including: police practices, unemployment and underemployment, inadequate housing, inadequate education, poor recreation facilities and programs, ineffectiveness of the political structure and grievance mechanisms, disrespectful white attitudes, discriminatory administration of justice, inadequacy of municipal services, discriminatory consumer and credit practices, and inadequate welfare programs; and
WHEREAS, the report concluded that “the police are not merely a ‘spark factor…to some Negroes police have come to symbolize white power, white racism and white repression…and the atmosphere of hostility and cynicism is reinforced by a widespread belief among Negroes in the existence of police brutality and in a ‘double standard’ of justice and protection—one for Negroes and one for whites”; and
WHEREAS, today we are witnessing immigration issues that are placing an enormous stress on our ability to welcome refugees, most notably from Central and South America, into our country; and
WHEREAS, current Administration policies with respect to limiting entrance and deporting those who have productively become part of the American fabric; and
WHEREAS, human rights abuses of men, women, and children have been documented; and
WHEREAS, such abuses defy and contradict the very concepts and ideals that are found in the formation and esecution of the American democratic experiment; and
WHEREAS, our nation has stood as the bulwark against tyranny and has evolved into a melting pot of diversity that exemplifies a model for all nations wishing freedom, liberty, and equal opportunity to emulate; and
WHEREAS, buiding a wall to keep people out and following policies that discourage those seeking legal entry and asylum from violence is antithetical to who and what we as a country are; and
WHEREAS, current policies are an insidious form of racism against people of color;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Presidential candidates pledge that if electedPresident of the United States they will immediately appoint a national panel on racism to explore the causes of violence in our communities and identify prevalence of and sources of institutionalized racism that contribute to attitudes and perceptions of racial injustice and inequality, offer solutions to address any inequities, conduct an exhaustive study using the Kerner Commission report as a starting point for addressing issues identified in the 1968 report and expanding upon identified grievances in the report to pinpoint additional grievances;
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that the President set a firm deadline for reporting the Commission’s findings and commit to a national discussion and dialogue on the issue of institutionalized racism while pursing administrative remedies where appropriate to help remediate inequality and injustice.