South Los Angeles citizens pledge support for Sheriff Lee Baca

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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.

Michael Richardson looks for answers after daughter’s death

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Mitrice Richardson is still on the minds of Angelenos. Her father, Michael Richardson, is holding a news conference and plans to go over details in the coroner’s report with the public. Jasmyne Cannick is a close family friend and is helping Michael put the news conference on. She wants to know why Mitrice’s clothes were found 100 yards away from her body.

“If I fell down that embankment into that ravine, and no animal touched my body, and I ended up dying, my clothes should still be on my body,” Cannick said.

When Mitrice’s remains were found in August, they were badly decomposed. As night fell, those at the scene put what was left of her body in a bag to send the remains to the coroner’s office. Los Angeles County Coroner Ed Winter said her remains were compromised, and because of their mistake, he could not rule it as a homicide. Mitrice’s file is still on a detective’s desk somewhere, but for the most part, the case has gone cold.

Michael believes the community deserves answers. He wants the sheriff’s department to engage the community in a public discussion. Steve Whitmore, the spokesperson for Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, could not comment at press time.

In the meantime, Michael says they are not giving up. They have created websites and Facebook groups asking for justice. They are also asking supporters to send bones to Baca.

“I had fried chicken tonight,” Cannick said. “I’m going to put them in the mail and send them to Lee Baca with a little note that says, ‘From me to you regarding Mitrice,'” Cannick said.

Cannick says that in December 2009, before her body was found, Richardson met with Baca. She says the sheriff told Richardson he may have to deal with the fact that we may never know what happened to Mitrice.