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Letters to the Editor: Police scandal isn’t surprising, says Torrance’s first Black public school principal

Torrance police cars
A scandal over racist text messages sent by Torrance police officers has jeopardized dozens of criminal prosecutions.
(Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: In the 1970s, I was the only Black teacher in a Torrance high school. In the 1980s, I was the school district’s first black principal. In 2000, I was asked by an older white man, when I enforced a school rule at a football game, “Are they now hiring coloreds in Torrance?” (“Torrance police bigotry scandal echoes the early days of L.A. race discrimination,” column, Dec. 18)

After 37 years, I happily retired from an excellent school district, and I received outstanding support from the Torrance Police Department’s school resource officers. The students, staff and families were overwhelmingly supportive.

Nevertheless, I was not at all surprised by recent stories about the racist messages shared by police officers in that city. For years, I drove down Hawthorne Boulevard, the city’s major thoroughfare, and noted only nonwhite men being stopped by the police and sat on the curb. I feared being stopped, but when I was (only twice), I quickly mentioned my relationship to the school district and received cordial treatment. Clearly, those perceived as outsiders were treated differently.

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Sadly, these behaviors and the grossly racist texts shared by officers reflect poorly on the community, but they raise a question that must be faced: Why in 2021 does such racism persist? Echoing James Baldwin, I still wonder, why do some people need to hate others?

Sidney Morrison, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Last year, during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations after the murder of George Floyd, the main talking point on both the right and the left in response to calls to “defund the police” was that the police needed “better training.”

During one of those discussions involving various experts, civil rights activists and policy officials, I heard one panelist say that we don’t have a training problem, we have a recruitment problem.

What Steve Lopez outlined in his excellent column regarding the current Torrance police scandal has convinced me that this lone panelist was 100% correct. America has a police recruitment problem that no amount of training can fix.

Fred Gober, Playa Vista


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