L.A. City Council Orders a ‘Racial Equity Audit’ of City Programs and Policies

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas says he hopes the motion will be ”the blueprint for establishing an anti-racist Los Angeles”

Los Angeles city council members unanimously voted on Tuesday for its staff to produce a Racial Equity Audit of the city’s programs, policies, and practices, a motion called “long overdue response to generational inequities that perpetuate racial disparities” in a news release.

Council members Mark Ridley-Thomas, Curren Price, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson introduced the “Antiracism motion” on June 18—the eve of Juneteenth—and was seconded by Councilwoman Nithya Raman.

The motion points out that Black people, who account for 9 percent of the city’s nearly 4 million residents, represent a third of those tragically injured or killed by law enforcement, nearly 34 percent of the population experiencing homelessness, and half of those who filed for employment during the COVID-19 pandemic, which puts them at risk of longterm unemployment.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Ridley-Thomas said he believes the motion will be “the blueprint for establishing an anti-racist Los Angeles … the policy framework.”

“As leaders of a city as diverse as Los Angeles, it is our responsibility to ensure the equitable distribution of city services and resources,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement. “But in order to do that, we must have the tools in place to effectively examine the ways in which we have unwittingly fallen short. Only when we are clear on our flaws, can we course-correct.”

The motion instructs the city’s Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, to draft the audit and provide the report to the City Council within 60 days. The Racial Equity Audit will reflect findings on potential barriers that Black people and other underserved communities may face to enroll and access city services and to secure procurement and contracting opportunities. It will also look at the sufficiency of institutional resources available to city departments, commissions, and agencies to effectively advance equity and increase investment in underserved communities, the statement says.

Officials also plan to establish a Racial Equity Task Force within the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department to collect and assess data on an annual basis, and require all city general managers to submit Racial Equity Plans each year.

“We have reached a critical turning point and if we are ever to reconcile with the past wrongdoings done to the Black community and tackle race relations, it is our duty to push for measures that ensure there is a more equitable and fair distribution of services that addresses systemic inequities to erase color-lines,” Price said in a statement. “We cannot sit back and watch history continue to repeat itself. We want to put an end to the cycle here and now.”

The motion builds on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Executive Directive No. 27 and the creation of the L.A. Reparations Advisory Commission, the statement says.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Councilman Gil Cedillo said that he wants the city to also audit how its policies impact undocumented immigrants with children who are citizens.

“In a city where 50 percent of its population is Latino, but many, if not most of those households, have mixed legal status,” he said. “Some come as undocumented. Some have status as legal permanent residents and some are born here and have full status as citizens. Nevertheless, their children deserve the same support as all children of this city.”

He added, “This city suffers as a result of that.”

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