The Culver City Police Officers’ Association (CCPOA) posted a controversial video to its Facebook page on Aug. 13 entitled ‘Who is the Culver City Action Network.’ The video accuses the Culver City Action Network (CCAN) of being “secretive” and “mysterious.”
The video begins by noting the Culver City Action Network (CCAN) website has no list of board of directors or any sort of employees, accrediting this to shifty behavior, and accuses the group of misconstruing the shooting of Leejoy Grissom in 2010. They present several facts from the case, including the fact that Grissom had a handgun in his shoe, and noted that multiple witnesses stated that they saw Grissom reach for his waistband before the shooting.
Talk then turns to a different subject, as a picture of John Kent that the CCPOA pulled from his personal Facebook page is shown side by side with a Twitter post from July 25 of a protest from CCUSD schoolboard member Kelly Kent’s profile. The post that CCPOA claims is spreading false information on the Grissom shooting is published on the CCAN website under the former Kent’s name.
The Twitter post in question also had the hashtag ‘#SolidaritywithPortland,’ a city that is still active in protesting police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, and has been since May 28, just three days after Floyd’s death. These protests have turned violent at times, as the video points out by cutting to news footage of violent protests in Portland, including reports of fireworks being thrown at police. Footage of Santa Monica protests that lead to curfews in Culver City were also shown, presented with the question: ‘Is this what our community wants?’
The video generated a great deal of discussion, and the opinions were generally mixed. While a substantial percentage of the 297 comments on the video as of Wednesday were in support of the police and the video, there was a great deal of backlash. Lawyer Annette Morasch, who wrote a Letter to the Editor published in the Culver City Crossroads accusing the CCPD of racist behavior, responded to the video by saying “why don’t you run off and find the facts? You don’t even have to run. You can slowly walk to find the facts you guys overlook.”
Another comment from Iman Blocker questioned the details of the Grissom case, saying “If he was lowering his hand to possibly retrieve a weapon, I wonder why it turned out his weapon was in his shoe.”
Among the vitriol was some support for the police as well. Janice Warsono wrote “DEFEND CCPD. They are why I still live here, (62 years) born and raised.”
Julian Kaye also voiced his solidarity with CCPD, saying “I can’t understand why anyone would want to defund our great police department, or any other police force at a time like this. This is a time when we all should be supporting our officers and praying for their safety…pray for our courageous police officers and love them.”
There was also a small group who were more in the middle, many of which support CCPD but were disappointed by this video. Naida Hebovic Gutwurth sums up the point succinctly, saying “I am supporting CCPD, but this video is absolutely counterproductive. With scare tactics, you will lose even more supporters.”
“Please, open to the public by making open forums, communicating with people in person, explain your problems, and listen to those who are against you in order to improve.” CCPD does engage in community outreach and interaction through programs such as Coffee with a Cop.
Vice Mayor Alex Fisch also left a comment, saying “Not a great look. Why don’t we send the detectives to ask this question during the numerous times that CCPD has met with CCAN? Why would you do this to the people you are sworn to protect?”
Councilmember Daniel Lee brought the video up during his initial comments at the Aug. 17 city council meeting, saying that CCAN has been meeting with both acting Culver City Police Chief Manuel Cid, and Culver City Police Chief Scott Bixby before he took a medical leave of absence.
Lee accused the CCPOA of putting the Kent family on blast because they disagree with the association, and said that they did it to appease members of the association.
Lee also noted that city council has made no significant changes to policing despite significant pressure following the George Floyd death, and said that the city has made a concerted effort to preserve jobs, but criticized the way the CCPOA portrayed itself in this video.
“If we are to move forward in an honest and collaborative way, then the kind of rhetoric present in this video has to disappear,” Lee said.
To view the video, visit the Culver City Police Officers Association Facebook page.