Photo by Matthew Hall.

Today, like thousands of other people, I signed a petition to have Santa Monica Police Chief, Cynthia Renaud removed from office. The events of Sunday, May 31st, during which downtown Santa Monica was looted and ransacked, revealed that both she, her department, and the entire City Council were woefully unprepared for the events that day despite the volume of chatter on social media and the events in downtown LA the day before.

Our City Council and the police chief failed us; we watched in despair as looters pillaged and burned our local businesses. Our city leadership exhibited a lack of moral courage, a lack of backbone when we needed them most; they made a binary decision to contain peaceful protesters and allow businesses to be destroyed instead of preparing for what they knew was coming and doing the hard and good work to protect both. Why would small businesses want to remain in Santa Monica if the government won’t protect them?

Good policing is a tricky balance and in recent days we have been reminded that there is still a lot of work to do in our country to make sure that people of color can live free of police brutality and that protecting and serving means protecting and serving all residents. However, the other side of the pendulum is no policing at all and that seems to be the choice Chief Renaud and the City Council have made.

Not only does Chief Renaud need to step down but the entire City Council needs to be recalled. We have had enough of their glossy platitudes.

Santa Monica has some of the highest paid government officials in California and yet we are broke and bankrupt. Santa Monica has seen year-over-year increases in crime and homelessness both of which the city has addressed with steering committees and meetings but without the bravery that real solutions require. We have developed a hugely expensive and super green government service building and funded an almost $800,000,000 climate change initiative but have continued to allow our most vulnerable citizens to suffer on our streets. Santa Monica has created a regulatory environment where affordable housing is almost impossible to build because the cost of development is approximately $1,000 per foot or roughly $700,000 per unit. City officials often recite their support for the underserved but in a city where apartments can cost upwards of $5,000 per month and where the City Council has spent millions of our taxpayer dollars appealing a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit judgment, their token chants ring hollow.

We must demand more than this! We need to stand in solidarity as Santa Monica renters and owners, dig our fingernails into the dirt, and do the hard work to create the future we deserve.

Andrew Browning

Santa Monica Resident