Black Lives Matter’s Most Prominent Chapter Launches Drive Targeting Police Unions

“We have to remember that police associations have long declared war on us. These police are descendants of slave-catchers.”
Los Angeles, CA - February 24: Dr. Melina Abdullah speaks to about 150 people during a Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles press conference and rally to launch a campaign against the Los Angeles city police union which represents nearly 10,000 rank-and-file officers in front of the American Civil Liberties Union building in Los Angeles on Wednesday, February 24, 2021.
Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Black Lives Matter’s most prominent chapter recently launched a campaign to “end police associations” as part of its ongoing effort to defund and abolish the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

According to the Los Angeles Times, Black Lives Matter-LA is “targeting two of Southern California’s biggest police unions, saying they will push to have them ejected from the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and ultimately disbanded.”

BLM members and allies began protesting last week outside of the ACLU of Southern California, located across from the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) headquarters. The union represents about 9,800 LAPD officers. Activists vowed to return every Wednesday, a common BLM strategy to build support for the group’s long-term objectives.

Supporters of the demonstrations have displayed signs with anti-law enforcement messages, such as “No Good Cops,” “All Cops Are Bastards,” “Abolish Policeand “Police Associations Are Organized Crime.”

“We are here as a start of a new weekly protest to topple police associations, to end police associations and you all know it might be a long fight – or it might not,” said Melina Abdullah, lead organizer of BLM-LA at the launch last week. “But we know every fight we’ve engaged in we have won.”

Abdullah cited several recent victories claimed by BLM, including defeating former L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey at the ballot box in November, blocking Mayor Eric Garcetti from a Cabinet position in the Biden administration, nudging former LAPD Chief Charlie Beck out the door, and forcing elected officials to defund local police forces.

“This is a spiritual fight, and the way that you know that we have spirit, that we have ancestors on our side, is that we always f[******] win,” Abdullah said at Wednesday’s action. “And that is the evidence that spirit is on our side.”

According to the L.A. Daily News, BLM’s objective is to end policing. The outlet reported that Abdullah said “their goal was to defund and ultimately abolish the LAPD, via challenging its police union, which they allege has set the rules for how officers are disciplined, at the expense of the public’s safety.”

“Defunding is just shorthand for abolition,” Abdullah said.

The L.A. Times reports, “Representatives of Black Lives Matter-L.A. also want the labor federation, which represents about 300 affiliates, to sever its ties with the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union representing deputies with the county’s Sheriff’s Department.” According to The Times, “Akili, who goes by a single name, said his group is working on state legislation to decertify police unions.” Formerly known as Greg Akili, he is one of BLM-LA’s most respected members who previously worked as an organizer for the United Farm Workers in the 1970s with the late Cesar Chavez.

“Have you ever seen (LAPPL) on the front-lines or a picket supporting $15 an hour?” Akili asked supporters. “Anyone has ever seen that? Hell no, because they don’t care about working people.”

LAPPL President Craig Lally described BLM’s campaign as “yet another dangerous idea from the anti-public safety fringes that’s akin to their previous ideas to defund the LAPD budget by 93% or to end incarceration for dangerous convicts.”

“It’s an outright lie to suggest that this group has any ability to strip the union representation rights of our members or any member of a union,” Lally continued. “That’s an anti-democratic tactic usually promoted by authoritarian regimes, not organizations that purport to be rooted in respecting workers’ rights and democracy.”

As the L.A. Times reported:

Asked about the activists’ campaign, L.A. County Federation spokesman Christian Castro said his organization believes that all workers have a right to form a union.

“We stand by our original stance — that every worker in every field should have the right to collectively bargain and build power in the workplace under a union contract,” he said.

The Police Protective League has serious pull in Los Angeles and Sacramento, putting money into the campaigns of state lawmakers, citywide elected officials and council members, among others. Last fall, despite massive summer protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the league and other law enforcement unions derailed several bills aimed at requiring more accountability, oversight and transparency from law enforcement agencies.

“There is nothing more dangerous than pretending you live in peace when someone has declared war upon you,” Abdullah said on Wednesday. “We have to remember that police associations have long declared war on us. These police are descendants of slave-catchers.”

“And they are attempting to put their prongs in, to dig their claws in every way they can,” she continued. “They’ve evolved; they’ve bettered their tools.”

“You know what makes a labor union a union?” Abdullah asked. “It’s solidarity with working-class people. It’s not just about the wages and benefits of your members; it’s about how you come together with every other working-class person. (Police unions’) interests are fundamentally opposed to every other working-class person. So they are not a f[******] union, and we are going to get them kicked out of the house of labor.”

Abdullah said police unions “only advocate for their narrow interests” and attempt to lobby for taxpayer dollars to “pour money into policing that puts targets on the backs of our people.”

BLM’s push to end police associations comes at a time when several law enforcement unions and officials have coalesced against newly-elected, controversial L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón. Victims rights advocates announced a campaign to recall Gascón last weekend, which will officially launch on Monday, 90 days after he took office, the first day a recall petition can be filed.

Abdullah has previously urged BLM members and allies to “stand alongside [Gascón] because his enemies are coming with a vengeance.” She told her followers on social media that Gascón “seems like the real deal to me.”

“I’m posting this because just as we hold electeds accountable when they harm communities, we must also stand with those leaders who advance justice,” Abdullah wrote on Facebook, tagging Gascón in the message. “We’re with you George Gascón! Don’t let the a**holes who are dead set on maintaining an unjust system sway you.”

Related: Black Lives Matter Leader Stands With L.A.’s New Progressive D.A., ‘Don’t Let The A**Holes Sway You’