Matthew Leslie

What, if anything, do members of the Fullerton City Council plan to do to respond to the demands of Black Lives Matter? Not much to nothing, I would venture to guess. After all, the police union openly backed a majority of their campaigns, and they got the return of Jan Flory last year as a bonus gift. The FPD are in no serious jeopardy of being defunded, reorganized, or overseen by a Civilian Police Oversight Commission as long as their endorsed candidates keep winning elections. But that doesn’t stop some of them from appearing before BLM demonstrations and talking about inequality, voting, racism—everything except police reform.

On June 6, Councilmembers  Ahmad Zahra and Jesus Silva both appeared at a Black Lives Matter protest on the lawn of Fullerton’s City Hall, along with Rep. Gil Cisneros and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva. Following comments by Cisneros and Quirk-Silva, Ahmad Zahra spoke to the hundreds of gathered to demand police reform in the wake of the appalling killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.”We are all angry!,” he said, reading from a prepared text on his smart phone.  “Protest against injustice and racism is not only our right, it is our duty!,” he continued. “I am no stranger to hate, discrimination, and racism,” he proclaimed, recalling his background as a gay, Muslim Syrian immigrant. He stridently proclaimed the need to respect diversity and celebrated the flying of the Pride Flag above City Hall behind him, drawing wild cheers from the sign-waving young protesters.

Things got suddenly quiet, however, when he tried to assure the energized crowd that the Fullerton Police Department just across Highland Ave. to the east was committed to “accountability, transparency, and the highest safety standards.” Confusion followed, and then a bit of derisive laughter. “There’s always room for improvement….” “We are going to continue to re-examine our policies…” and then, like clockwork, the old chestnut “community policing,” whatever that is supposed to mean, which is the whole point of that term, because it can mean anything a noncommittal politician wants it to mean, which is usually nothing at all.

I was going to edit the video (used without permission from the Fullerton College Hornet)

down to just the part about police accountability, but I’m sure Mr. Zahra would want you to hear the whole of his inspiring speech…