On April 5th, 2023, the historic Black community of Oakwood in Venice, CA woke up to an act of hate. The Black Lives Matter mural, a symbol of unity, resilience, and a call for justice, was tarnished by vandals. Such acts don’t occur in a vacuum—they’re often empowered by the environment around them, an environment shaped profoundly by our leaders and their messages.
Councilwoman Traci Park’s tenure has been marked by what can, at best, be described as a questionable relationship with issues of race and law enforcement. With endorsements from controversial figures and organizations, her seat on the council seems more than just a representative role—it appears as an endorsement of those who oppose civil rights and the very essence of movements like Black Lives Matter.
While one might argue that political endorsements and affiliations don’t directly incite vandalism, they undeniably set a tone. When leadership associates with organizations like the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) known for racial prejudice or remains silent in the face of blatant racism, it sends an implicit message. This message isn’t lost on those who wish to commit acts of hate; it emboldens them. They see a world where their actions might not only be overlooked but, in some twisted way, approved.
Park’s delayed and unsatisfactory responses to racially charged events, like the tragic deaths at the hands of law enforcement and the subsequent community reactions, further signal to these hateful actors that their actions might not meet the swift justice they deserve. A near two-week silence followed by an insipid statement on the vandalized mural in Oakwood is a testament to that very attitude.
In an era where we’re striving for unity and understanding, the weight of leadership has never been more profound. Leaders’ words, endorsements, and even their inactions have repercussions that ripple through the community. The vandalized mural in Oakwood isn’t just an act of defacement—it’s a cry for genuine leadership that stands unwaveringly against hate and prejudice.
Our community deserves representatives who not only condemn acts of racism but through their actions, affiliations, and words prevent the very environment that breeds such acts in the first place.
Unfortunately, we have Traci Park as our councilperson.