A month after Traci Park took office, Keenan Anderson was tased to death by LAPD less than a mile from her Venice home. Keenan’s murder was the third LAPD killing in the first few days of 2023, and it prompted protests and national outrage. Traci waited a full week before uttering a word about the murder, and her statement blamed Keenan’s death on mental illness. When two Black organizers questioned Traci at City Hall about the incident, she refused to engage with them and called the police. Four days after LAPD killed Keenan, Memphis police brutally murdered Tyre Nichols, continuing January’s streak of police violence. Traci again refused to speak to Black leaders when a vigil for Keenan and Tyre led by Black Lives Matter LA turned into a march from the vigil to her house. And when the Black Lives Matter street art in front of the former First Baptist Church of Venice was vandalized with red paint in April 2023, Traci Park said nothing.
None of this should be surprising. Park is bought and paid for by the most violent and murderous police force in the country, and she is poised to carry out their agenda. She received a staggering $1.5 million from the LA Police Protective League (LAPD’s lobbying association) and she was endorsed by eight different law enforcement agencies.
Her bid for Council commenced in the wake of the George Floyd uprising, when LAPD unleashed a series of violent attacks against peaceful protesters across Los Angeles. She quickly aligned with reactionaries clamoring for more funding for cops at a time when the entire nation was rising up against police violence and bloated police budgets. People across the country began to grapple with the fact that we spend billions of dollars each year on policing, and we are not safe. True public safety comes from funding housing, healthcare, education and programs that prevent conflict and instability. But for someone like Traci Park who entered government as a direct agent of the LAPD, “public safety” is synonymous with over-policing the most vulnerable members of our community.
Cops bankrolled Traci’s campaign because she is their ideal agent at City Hall. She spent her entire career as an anti-civil rights attorney, representing large corporations and municipalities against claims of police brutality and other civil rights violations (e.g. Chad Peters v. City of Hemet et al). In Harrell v. City of Anaheim (2021), Traci argued that a white employee repeatedly using the n-word and joking about genitalia around a Black employee did not constitute harassment. Luckily, the judge disagreed. Traci’s legal career, including her racist line of defense in Harrell, prompted an emergency press conference on her candidacy from Black leadership in Los Angeles. Park also defended Raytheon, one of the largest weapons manufacturers and war profiteers in the world, and the City of Pasadena against claims of whistleblowing retaliation.
Park was trained as a lawyer at Littler Mendelson, one of the leading union-busting firms in the world. They are currently defending Amazon and Starbucks against nationwide union drives. After leaving Littler, Traci practiced at Ogletree Deakins, which defended infamous racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. They also defended the Republican party in North Carolina against gerrymandering lawsuits, and they are currently leading legal union-busting efforts at Duke University. Traci’s latest firm, Burke, Williams & Sorensen, described her as “exclusively assisting management.” Since Traci took office, legal contracts between the City of LA and Burke, Williams & Sorensen have ballooned from $100,000 to $1.335 million — mostly for police misconduct. So LA taxpayers are paying Traci’s law firm (where she presumably still holds an equity interest) over a million dollars to defend abusive police officers.
In February 2023, Traci introduced a motion to encourage teachers and social workers to become cops. And in a widely ridiculed statement the following month, she urged her colleagues to support LAPD’s acquisition of the “robot dog,” or quadruped military surveillance robot, manufactured by Boston Dynamics. Vice’s Motherboard said Traci’s support for the military device “highlights the power of well-funded police lobbyists to purchase influence in local governments.”
Traci has also pushed for curtailing the civil rights of people with disabilities. She wants to make it easier to commit people involuntarily, but has done nothing to expand mental health or other social services in the City. Like other “law and order” politicians, she uses the blunt and carceral instrument of forced holds, while also expanding our massive police budget at the expense of mental health services. According to a senior legislative advocate with Disability Rights California, the bill Traci supports “expands the definition of ‘gravely disabled’ in a way that is highly speculative and will lead to locking more people up against their will and depriving them of fundamental rights.”