L.A. Super Bowl Committee Awards Grant To Activists Organizing To Abolish L.A. School Police
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 10: A general view of the field during the Los Angeles Rams open practice at SoFi Stadium on June 10, 2021 in Inglewood, California.
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Super Bowl Host Committee on Thursday announced grants to more than fifty community organizations, including a youth activist coalition attempting to abolish the L.A. School Police Department.

The groups took part in a ceremony launching the Super Bowl LVI Legacy Program at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, which is set to host the big game in February as it returns to the L.A. area for the first time in 29 years. The event was emceed by Entertainment Tonight co-host Kevin Frazier and featured appearances by L.A. Rams coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell congratulated the recipients in a video message, calling them “changemakers” and “inspirational leaders that embody the diversity of the 88 cities across the Los Angeles County region.” He said the league was proud to help “shine the Super Bowl spotlight onto the achievements of local community organizations that often go unrecognized.”

According to the host committee, each “unsung hero” group will receive “a $10,000 grant award, a professionally produced marketing video spotlighting their organization, and public recognition of their work in the lead up to the Super Bowl.” They were chosen in part because of their emphasis on youth development, jobs and economic opportunity, and social justice. Six of the groups will be picked for a total grant award of $50,000 later this year.

The Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition (BSS) was among the 56 organizations picked, in part, for “making a transformative impact in underserved communities.”

BSS describes itself as “a group of ten community-based organizations” on a mission “to end the criminalization of young bois/boys and men of color by creating and influencing public policy that invests in young people and their future.” The Labor/Community Strategy Center, which is headed by a former member of the Weather Underground, is part of the BSS coalition.

Currently, BSS is part of a drive to push the L.A. Unified School District to fully defund and eliminate its police force. LAUSD is the second-largest public education system in the nation.

Throughout June, BSS and its allies plan to rally outside every school board meeting to demand the district become “police free.” Partner organizations include Black Lives Matter’s L.A. chapter, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), and the Strategy Center.

Their demands include prioritizing “the needs of Black students” and supporting “Black futures.” They want the school board to redirect funding from the police department to support “community schools,” “restorative justice counselors,” “psychiatric social workers,” “Black-centered courses,” and “school climate coaches.”

Their efforts resulted in the school board cutting the police department’s annual budget by $25 million last year. Then in February, the board voted unanimously to remove police from school campuses. Although officers would still be on-call nearby for emergencies, the plan eliminated 133 positions from the force.

BSS has also organized against elected law enforcement officials in Los Angeles County, including former District Attorney Jackie Lacey and current Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

The Super Bowl LVI Legacy Program is a partnership between the Los Angeles Super Bowl Host Committee and the LA84 Foundation, the Play Equity Fund, and the NFL Foundation. According to NFL Commissioner Goodell, the host committee team and the L.A. Sports & Entertainment Commission identified the recipient organizations.

Renata Simril, president of the LA84 Foundation and the Play Equity Fund, suggested the model would continue to be used to generate more income for local community organizations in the future.

“Super Bowl LVI and other major sporting events coming to Los Angeles for the next decade will not just deliver economic benefit to our region, but their own positive social impact as well, which will live long after the games are done,” she said on Thursday.

Recent history has shown that NFL viewership has declined when the league becomes a platform to promote social issues. Television executives said national anthem protests inspired by Colin Kaepernick in 2016 were a factor in a ratings dip that began that season, compounded by frequent criticism on social media from President Donald Trump. The NFL experienced two seasons of ratings growth, then the audience for regular-season games shrank again in 2020 by about 7%. The presidential election, coronavirus pandemic, and reaction by some fans to the league’s social justice efforts were all believed to contribute to the decline in viewership.

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