Chief Michel Moore of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is facing pressure to resign from fellow police officers that cite a lack of leadership and defense of the police department on Moore’s behalf during the Black Lives Matter protests in late May and early June.
The Black Lives Matter movement made police departments across the country, especially in big cities like LA, vulnerable to criticism from protestors against police brutality, according to a recent survey published by the LAPD union newsletter, the Thin Blue Line. In response to the survey, which included 27 percent of respondents out of the roughly 10,000 officers employed by the LAPD department, Moore apologized for his perceived faulty leadership by his fellow officers. He did so via email, with an open letter to the department addressing his actions and words, both of which were considered divisive by members of the LAPD. They thought that Moore should have inflicted a more direct and supportive stance in solidarity with the police department as opposed to his precarious efforts at symbolic displays of solidarity with Black Lives Matter protestors.
The heightened criticism targeted at Moore from within the Los Angeles Police Department came from his “‘cowering” to Black Lives Matter protesters, ‘pandering’ to city politicians, and ‘not having an organized plan’” during the height of the BLM movement. The Minneapolis Police Department, the department responsible for the death of George Floyd on May 25 of this year, encountered widespread scrutiny and efforts to abolish the department altogether. This eventually led to nationwide conflicts between Black Lives Matter protestors and police departments at large.
The LAPD and their hope of being shielded from the public fury over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis fell short. Police officers interpreted Moore’s failure to exert a more outright defense of the department, thereby being seen as catering to BLM protestors, as a fundamental lack of support for police officers. In the mass protests that followed the social outrage over Floyd’s death at the hands of police, Moore made the decision to kneel with protestors outside of Los Angeles City Hall. While the solidarity offered by Moore was largely seen as a hollow gesture from Black Lives Matter protestors, the move also raised tension within his own department, as the action was interpreted as a public betrayal of the department by some LAPD officers that are persistent in their views that project Black Lives Matter supporters as their most fierce opponents.
Although Moore’s letter to the department apologizing for his actions was not meant to be public, NBC Bay Area reports that Moore addressed the police department in his letter by stating, “I apologize to those of you who I failed by my actions or words…I believed in my heart each action was the right thing to do.” Moore’s apology aims to eradicate the backlash felt from his own department by not enacting a more punitive and organized response to the Black Lives Matter protests throughout L.A. county.
The timing of Moore’s letter seems to be directly influenced by the Thin Blue Line’s newsletter survey results. A closer look into the union survey by Frank Stoltze from LAist reveals that, “Nearly 90 percent of Los Angeles Police Department officers who responded to a survey conducted by their labor union said Chief Michel Moore failed to provide strong leadership during the weeks of unrest that followed the killing of George Floyd in May. About the same number (86 percent) said they did not feel supported by Moore.” This lack of support indicated by the police department points to Moore’s weak formation of any clear and public statement during the protests that positioned the LAPD as a beneficial resource in the community. In the wake of Floyd’s death, however, police departments received negative public attention in regards to their ethics and behavior.
Additional investigations by the Los Angeles Times into Moore’s current conundrum and subsequent apology letter found that “Law enforcement experts said the survey reflects a long trend in policing, wherein officers and police unions complain about leadership whenever they are confronted with broad societal criticism — which force elected officials and police commanders to acknowledge mistakes, implement reforms and scrutinize officers’ actions more closely.” With growing tension and scrutiny placed on police departments across the country, the Thin Blue Line’s survey results mirror the same deflection tactics identified by the Los Angeles Times. Displacing the conflict between the police and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, the LAPD remains incessant in their attempts to shift the blame on Moore, which continues to propel the clash amongst the two groups. The Thin Blue Line’s survey supports the police department’s efforts at vocalizing their disdain for Moore’s moderate stances.
While the height of the summer protests against police brutality in L.A. has subsided for now, the repercussions of decisions made by Moore still linger in the community and from within the police department itself. Moore’s persistent alignment with moderate actions and statements have isolated him from his own department and further ostracized him from the Black Lives Matter movement. The community backlash against displays of police brutality captured on video continues for the community of L.A., as the police department possesses a long-standing and documented history of police brutality. As the LAPD continues to shift the blame on Moore, the police chief’s open letter to the department highlights the overall unclear sense of direction that remains in the community and the police department about the efficiency of Moore’s leadership.
Featured image: Photo courtesy of the Associated Press/ Shutterstock.