Q: What is your definition of “systemic racism”?
A: Systemic racism is racism that’s built into systems. Slavery was systemic racism. Segregation is systemic racism. The idea that a child who is born into a black family, on average, that family has $17,000 of wealth, and a white family has $171,000 of wealth? That’s economic systemic racism. Freed slaves were promised “forty acres and a mule.” Didn’t get it. Reparations are an attempt to look at righting the wrong of systemic racism. Systemic racism is the idea that, as I just heard from even my fellow elected officials, you can be a powerful black man in America, and you’re still going to get pulled over all the time, in a way that our white counterparts aren’t. That is — systemic racism means that there are systems set up, both in and by government, as well as in our economy, and our private sector, in our schools, and in our communities, that systematically — they aren’t just an individual, the difference is in individual racism, somebody who makes a[n] individual decision that is racist — when, collectively, these have folks who are African American more likely to be homeless, more likely to be in jail, more likely to be of poor health, more likely to to be under-educated, more likely to be under-employed or unemployed. That’s the result of a system. The counter is, a lot of people say, “Oh, that’s just people’s personal choices.” Try starting at the starting line fifty yards behind everybody else. And then you tell me if everything is equal. That’s what this moment is about. And I think that, while there are some who still want to push back on that, the marvelous thing is, this is finally a moment when, overwhelmingly, America gets it. The question is now, for all of us: what are you going to do about it?
Garcetti also argued that reducing the number of police in “communities of color” would not necessarily make them less safe for their residents or for businesses in the area.
Last week, Garcetti announced he was cutting up to $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) budget, roughly 10% of the total.