The topic “21st Century Policing: Who Is Policing Who?” will focus on a panel of members of the newly established Santa Monica Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission who will be featured during a free zoom workshop at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3 sponsored by the Committee for Racial Justice (CRJ).


Santa Monica City Council members unanimously passed an ordinance supporting creation of the commission in the wake of local demonstrations after George Floyd’s murder in 2020, marking the first time in the history of Santa Monica that a police oversight body has been formed.


Commission members will share their plans and their experiences so far, including strong resistance to this new oversight, most notably a lawsuit brought by the Santa Monica Police Officers Association which garnered from City Council temporary limitations on the very investigation and accountability functions the commission was formed to implement.
Q&A will follow the moderated program.
Panelists will include:


-George Brown, chair of the commission who is a litigator and expert in security class-actions and corporate governance, has advocated for social justice throughout his career including in focus areas of voting rights and civil rights, and was co-creator of New Era in Public Safety: A Guide to Fair, Safe and Equitable Community Policing published in 2019. Brown has taught at UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools and is executive director of the Stanford Center for Racial Justice. He has served on several nonprofit boards serving youth and is currently on the board of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.


-Derek Devermont, a defense attorney who is vice chair of the oversight commission, is a disability advocate, vice president of the California Pest Control Board, and one of California’s 20 elected members to the Democratic National Committee and a party delegate. He serves on judicial review committees and, as an attorney, has successfully represented countless individuals with disabilities. He has also been involved with others in clearing criminal and civil obstacles to getting houseless people off the streets.


-Angela Scott, is a commission member, mother of three, activist and Personalization & Content Manager. She has written and edited for several publications and books, and serves on numerous education-related committees including the Intercultural Equity & Excellence District Advisory Committee for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. She is also on the Steering Committee for the Committee For Racial Justice.


-Craig Miller is a commission member who, outraged after witnessing tear gas and rubber bullets being fired into a peacefully gathered crowd not far from his home in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica in the spring of 2020, began organizing local community college students and others to protest at Santa Monica Police Department headquarters to demand accountability. Miller has been a longtime political organizer and is the founder of AIDS Walk Los Angeles and a co-founder of Santa Monicans for Democracy.


The panel will be moderated by Michele Wittig, a resident of Santa Monica for 50 years who is professor emerita of psychology at California State University Northridge where she taught and also conducted research in social, cognitive, and developmental psychology. Throughout her life she has partnered with dozens of community organizations, including the NAACP, and is currently the convener of the Santa Monica Coalition for Police Reform (CPR) since its launch at a CRJ meeting six years ago.


The Committee for Racial Justice is a local community based group committed to combating all forms of racial injustice, whether overt or covert, individualized or systemic.
Register online at: https://bit.ly/3oezIgi.


For more information, call Joanne at 310-422-5431.

Submitted by Joanne Berlin, CRJ