South Los Angeles citizens pledge support for Sheriff Lee Baca

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

imageSome Los Angelenos are beginning to speak out in support of Sheriff Lee Baca. The sheriff is facing criticism after the ACLU recently revealed that they’re investigating widespread inmate abuse in LA county prisons under the supervision of Sheriff Lee Baca.

Baca responded last week by meeting with inmates, collecting their concerns and beginning an internal investigation to look into their allegations.

But Peter Eliasberg of the Southern California ACLU says Baca’s latest investigation is nothing but a “PR effort” to cover up years of verbal harassment, beatings and tazings.

“All of these things add up to not only a pattern of abuse but also a pattern of investigation that even Inspector Clusoe wouldn’t do, they were so poorly done – and designed not to get at the truth.”

On the contrary, Baca says he hasn’t looked into deputies on this scale because, for years, he simply didn’t know about physical abuse or unsanitary living conditions. He didn’t even know how badly inmates needed soap or extra blankets.

“I’m willing to learn the lessons. I’m willing to engage my department’s deputies so that they can learn the lessons. And the lessons aren’t learned just by training and policy and supervision.”

If Baca is trying to preserve political support, he’s popular in South Los Angeles, promised Dr. Sandra Moore. She chairs both Concerned Citizens for Fair Policing and the Citizens Advisory Board in South LA and hosted a press conference in Watts today.

“I just want the community to know, he’s not resigning. we won’t allow it. he’s not going anywhere. But we’re gonna work with him side by side. The ACLU can have the same opportunity.”

The ACLU has demanded Baca’s resignation, but this panel of about a dozen neighborhood organizations pledged unflinching support for the Sheriff.

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