L.A. mayor directs city departments to begin planning affirmative action programs, names city’s first chief equity officer

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On Juneteenth, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an executive order directing all city departments to begin planning affirmative action programs in recruitment hiring, training and personnel policies.

The mayor on Friday also announced a new position, the city’s first chief equity officer, and named L.A. deputy mayor Brenda Shockley to the position.

“I welcome this opportunity to continue to fight for racial equity and equal opportunity, and against systemic racism and injustice,” Shockley said.

The California Assembly voted 58-9 last week to let voters decide whether to repeal the ban on affirmative action, which lets public universities and government agencies consider race when making admissions and hiring decisions. The question would be added to the November ballot if the state Senate concurs by June 25.

Garcetti said his directive will ensure L.A. is prepared if the measure passes in November.

“We’re going to undertake a rigorous study of any disparity in hiring promotion and contracting, which is required by federal law, prior to implementing affirmative action, but we know we have lost ground,” the mayor said. “We see it in fewer Black students in our universities, we see it in the way that contracting has moved backwards, providing fewer opportunities for small local businesses that are trying to become medium and large sized businesses.”

Garcetti said the city’s goal is to ensure “the starting line is the same for everyone.”

“This executive directive is one step, and we have a lot of work to do to correct the inequities that are baked into a system much bigger than just the city of Los Angeles. But L.A. will lead,” the mayor said.

The announcement comes after weeks of protest over racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after being pinned beneath a Minneapolis officer’s knee.

Members of the L.A. City Council have been proposing changes in response to the massive protests across the city. Council members on Tuesday voted to adopt a measure directing staff to look for up to $150 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget, and ways to reinvest those funds to help disadvantaged communities in the city.

L.A. Councilman Herb Wesson announced he will introduce a motion to replace LAPD officers with “unarmed, non-law enforcement agencies who will be responsible for responding to non-violent calls for service.”

And Councilman Curren Price on Wednesday introduced legislation to make it illegal to call 911 to make a false or frivolous report based on racial bias.

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