UCLA leaders issued the following statement in response to Los Angeles Polilce Department using Jackie Robinson Stadium to process people detained for demonstrating for social justice.
Over the past week, against the backdrop of a global pandemic that has further exposed the gross inequalities in our society, and following news of the horrific killings of yet again more African Americans, we have been inspired to see thousands of peaceful protesters speaking out and taking to our streets. This is why we at UCLA are nothing short of outraged to learn that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) had used the Jackie Robinson Stadium parking lot to process arrests of protesters earlier this week.
To be clear: This was a violation. To see a space that’s so special to UCLA, particularly one dedicated to an iconic figure like Robinson, used as a place for punishing those who carry on his legacy is profoundly upsetting. The truth is that for many in our community, deeply anxious about police brutality and abuse of government power, that was deeply troubling. We understand and respect that. We failed to recognize these challenges in an inclusive manner that heard marginalized voices.
For many years, UCLA has leased Jackie Robinson Stadium on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs property near our campus. City agencies have typically asked for our permission as a lessee to allow them to use the parking lot in emergency situations, including as a Los Angeles Fire Department staging site during recent wildfires and as a COVID-19 testing site. In this case, the LAPD sought and received similar permissions from the VA to use the stadium parking lot as a staging area, which we knew about and failed to stop. We were never informed that it would also be used to process arrests. But allowing the LAPD to use the space even for staging during these recent protests was a mistake.
Especially disturbing are reports that in the midst of a pandemic, which has already disproportionately harmed communities of color, the arrests on Monday were handled in a way that violated Los Angeles County’s own guidelines on physical distancing and face coverings. When we say Black Lives Matter, that also means that the dignity and well-being of those who stand for Black lives also matter.
We must do more to ensure that our commitment to equity, diversity, respect and justice are front and center across all of our campus policies and practices. To that end, we will soon establish a task force on structural racism, which will include students, faculty, staff and members of the broader community. This task force will pay special attention to policing issues and make concrete, actionable recommendations.
We have already instructed the LAPD that it may not use any property UCLA owns or leases for the purpose of processing arrests and staging until the task force confronts the hard questions, such as, “In what situations, if any, should we permit nearby police departments to ever use our property in response to protests?”
We must and will do better. We are Bruins and, as such, we will continue our work to elevate our campus and our community as a place dedicated to equity, diversity and inclusion.