A Week After Fred Taft's Murder In ELB's Pan Am Park:
|(July 29, 2018, 10:48 a.m.) -- With Mayor Robert Garcia (who recommends annual city budgets) not present, and Councilwoman Stacy Mungo (who with a Council majority can change proposed budgets) the only elected official visible, it fell to LBPD East Division Commander Erik Herzog and Deputy Chief Wally Hebeish to update residents a week after Fred Taft was shot to death on July 21 while using a restroom at ELB's Pan American Park (5100 E. Centralia) during an annual family gathering:
The Lakewood Village Community Church was filled for the 9 a.m. July 28 community meeting. LBREPORT.com provides extended on-demand video coverage below allowing our readers to see/hear what took place unedited/unfiltered.
Among the significant points:
The first audience speaker said there appeared to be a lack of pro-active policing. His comments were echoed later by a number of other audience comments describing what residents called a visible police in the area. Commander Herzog responded to the first speaker by saying "proactive" policing is taking place and indicated the mix of calls for service vs. self-initiated policing was roughly 50-50. [LBREPORT.com note: LBPD doesn't decide the number of officers available or not available for LBPD to deploy; the City Council decides this when it adopts City Hall's annual spending budget. LB's current Mayor/Council has restored 17 citywide deployable officers out of 208 erased by previous Mayors/Councils. Also erased and not restored: nearly a dozen Park Rangers; for FY18, the Council budgeted only two Park Rangers citywide.
Under questioning by residents, recently re-elected Councilwoman Stacy Mungo acknowledged that there are currently no working cameras in Pan Am Park. After noting that there are various types of cameras, and government cameras are controversial among some community members (privacy vs. safety), Councilwoman Mungo said Mayor Garcia has indicated cameras will be in his recommended FY19 budget [no indication of number or type or locations or timeline.] Councilwoman Mungo didn't indicate if she plans to seek to restore any additional citywide deployable police officers for taxpayers beyond current levels, an opportunity she'll have (as will other Council incumbents) after Mayor Garcia recommends a FY19 budget on July 31. A Council majority will decide the police staffing outcome, subject to a Mayoral veto that six Councilmembers can override.
The LBPD community meeting was followed by a grassroots Memorial Ceremony and Unity Rally in nearby Pan Am Park. LBREPORT.com provides extended VIDEO below. The event, attended by family members and friends, appears to have been organized in part by veteran L.A. area activist Najee Ali.
Mr. Ali, who lives in San Pedro, indicated he was troubled by the absence of LB Mayor Garcia and other LB elected officials at the event [we spotted one non-elected LB Commission member, an ELB resident] but struck a unifying tone in his remarks. Mr. Ali indicated he agrees with family members that Mr. Taft was killed was because he was Black, but he [and a speaker introduced as Brother Earnest] said what took place isn't a matter of politics or religion but a matter of right and wrong. A number of attendees wore blue T-shirts declaring "All Lives Matter."
The most emotional moment came when Mr. Ali invited Mr. Taft's daughter to say a few words...and she was simply unable to speak. [We saw a number of people tearing up at that point.] Other supporters spoke for her.
Among those speaking (visible near end of the video) was Steve Garcia, a neighbor who with his wife set up a Go Fund Me page for the family at https://www.gofundme.com/taft-family-fundraiser
"[Mr. Taft] leaves behind his daughter Corie and two grandchildren. We are raising funds to help Corie, his only daughter, with funeral expenses. We are all praying the killer will be found and justice will be served. Feel free to share this so we can help Corie and her children in this difficult time. Please keep all of the Taft family in your thoughts and prayers," the page says.
As of the morning of July 29, it had raised nearly $3,000 of its $10,000 goal.
VIDEO: July 28 Memorial Ceremony / Unity Rally re Murder of Fred Taft
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