i-con-o-clast – noun – a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions.
The word has been with us since at least the 14th Century and originally was applied to persons who destroyed religious statues and other religious icons. The meaning of the word has been altered in more recent times to accompany the awakening of people to the possibility of cultural or political change. Revolution by a more orderly democratic process of using the ballot box to effect change is a second choice for iconoclasts. The boarded up shop windows and barricaded streets in West Hollywood attest to the actions of those who demand change immediately. Throwing the baby out with the bath water is not of much concern to today’s passionate protesters of racial injustice and police incompetence and brutality. The Black Lives Matter movement has now become an almost universal cry for all manner of social justice seekers.
Black Lives Matter’s calls for changes to policing range from the firing of individuals to the “defunding” of entire city police departments. That their fury has raged for 18 days (at this writing) speaks to the size and momentum of the movement. But, how does it impact West Hollywood? The last demographics I find show the a mere 4.3% of the city is considered Black, while the White portion is 73%. The process of exclusion is complex, but such employment areas as the movie trade, academia and arts had the barest representation of Blacks, and the area was, even before cityhood, almost exclusively White. Not much different now, but are we satisfied with our police?
During the 46 years I have lived in West Hollywood, I’ve had my share of meetings with the Sheriff’s deputies. Before cityhood, my house was burglarized twice and my car broken into once. Police response would take hours – or even a day. West Hollywood was a sort of county backwater then. After cityhood twice I was on a small panel to interview prospects for the commander of WeHo’s sheriff detachment. In more recent days, twice I waddled out to speak with a crowd of deputies answering calls on my block. As the Watch Captain I offered my assistance. Each time, I was dismissed by very young deputies who refused my card and told me they’d call me if they thought I was needed. They were not just dismissing me but knowledge of the inhabitants of the block and history of the area, information which might have had content for their investigation. To offset that, there are several older deputies still here who understand the broader scope of their jobs. For the protesters I’d ask: Just what is it you expect from the police and how do you think you’ll get it? Reform starts within and with the assistance of the public all long the way.
In WEHOville.com I have read sentiments advising, and some demanding, change in our city’s administration. Some advocate replacing the entire City Council, others single out individual members, but the singular call is for change. Just four and a half months from now there will be an opportunity to try to effect those changes as November 3, 2020, is our scheduled Election Day. I have capitalized those words because when I was a kid back in Boston, that day was a holiday. Even the pubs had to shut, and the election took place in the city with an air of excitement and expectancy. How about an Election Day holiday in WeHo?
Responses to another piece I wrote for WEHOville.com told me that when there are few complaints in a city the number of registered voters at the polls is low. Yet, if I read other responses to other articles here, I find quite a few unhappy voices. Well, here’s a chance to really make your complaints work for you: Vote.
West Hollywood has a way to go before it can say it is once again the vibrant city of nightlife, great restaurants and fun clubs. We are a resort city with no other industry than those that attract and cater to tourists. We must have some truly good plans to recover our former situation. The Chamber of Commerce cannot do it all.
City policies are the core. There are now eight candidates in the running for the two seats to open on the City Council. Of the eight, two are incumbents, leaving six offering, we hope, strong proposals to help bolster the city’s need to retain our specialized industry – and its workforce. There are just a bit more than four months to Election Day. During that time we must hear from all the candidates – at least several times for decent back and force discussions. We hope that the city TYV channel is available to assist in that. In open forums, the questions should be direct and tough and we need several forums. Black Lives Matter has come along at just the right time to bring awareness and impetus and care for how we are governed and how we maintain order. Let’s thank them – and join with their energy for change.
PS: Thoughts move forward to a staff piece in the 6/13 issue of WEHOville.com discussing the dustup between Black Lives Matter and CSW and the proposed march Sunday, June 14. This would be a wonderful opportunity for BLM to do something they have accused the White world of not doing: Inclusion. BLM and the murder of George Floyd have ignited the world’s young people to rise up and seek control over their lives and destinies. Why shouldn’t BLM strike that note in WeHo?.