Protesters Encouraged to Seek Change at Ballot Box

As with demonstrations around the nation, recent Burbank protests have been driven by a serious purpose: demands for racial justice and police reform. But as a Tuesday march through the city highlighted, there can also be an expression of solidarity through music and movement.
“Things like music connect us every day,” said Benjamin Abiola, an organizer the protest. “Everyone feels that soul in their body, and it just shows people that there’s nothing different between us besides our skin color. And if we can both dance and sing to music, then why can’t we stand in solidarity against people who want to oppress us?”
But even as protesters danced the “Cupid Shuffle” in 95-degree heat, the signs they carried bore grim references to the issue that led to their presence in the street: the recent killings of black people. Continue reading “Protesters Encouraged to Seek Change at Ballot Box”

Police, City Council Address Oversight Concerns

While protesters marched through the streets of Burbank this week with cries of “Defund the police” and “This is what democracy looks like,” the City Council heard from residents concerned about their local Police Department.
The virtual council meeting took place as protesters assembled in front of the Men’s Wearhouse at the Empire Center, one of several demonstrations that have arisen in Burbank while hundreds have been held across the country to demand police reform and justice for black people killed by officers.
Those demands were echoed at the council meeting, with residents requesting that members review the Burbank Police Department’s budget and use-of-force policies.
However, those matters, which were brought up after a brief report from Chief Scott LaChasse, were not addressed by council members during Tuesday’s meeting.
“It is important for us to be clear and specific right now, because we are at a pivotal moment in history,” said Heather Robb, who called in from the protest to comment at the meeting. “I hope this moment does for Burbank what we see it doing in cities all over our country, causing us to examine and reflect on the role that police play in our communities.”
Robb also asked the council to revisit the department’s budget, saying that the percentage of funds allocated to it does not reflect the community’s values. The department’s $61.76 million general fund budget is about 31% of the city’s total proposed general fund budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, though city staff members have previously warned that there remain many financial unknowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sgt. Derek Green, public information officer for the BPD, said in an emailed statement that “the Burbank Police Department believes that adequate training and equipping of police officers is essential to public safety and safeguarding our community. Training and equipment comes at an expense. Any reductions in funding would have a detrimental effect on the Department’s ability to continue on its path of progressive law enforcement reform.” Continue reading “Police, City Council Address Oversight Concerns”