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NAJEE’S NOTES: Police commission head seeks restraining order against activist

Matt M. Johnson, a board member of the Los Angeles Urban League and one of the most respected African-American leaders in the city who has been the Los Angeles Police Commission president since September 2015, has filed a request for a temporary restraining order against Black Lives Matter activist Trevor Gerard.

According to the order, Johnson feared for his life and the safety of his family.

And it appears for good reason. Gerard was arrested by LAPD officers at Johnson’s Sherman Oaks residence and at his Century City workplace. Criminal trespass charges are currently pending as the LAPD continues to investigate the case.

This is just the latest case of Black Lives Matter continued practice of using fear, intimidation and threats of violence against anyone who doesn’t agree with them. They continue to be a group that no one takes seriously with their clownish antics.

The sad thing is that Johnson doesn’t deserve this. He has a stellar track record of service in our community that includes being involved with the Boys and Girls Club since 1997. He is a past board president of both Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Los Angeles and the Echo Park Boys & Girls Club.

He currently serves as a national trustee for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In 2008, Johnson was the youngest person recognized by the Hollywood Reporter as one of the 100 power lawyers in the entertainment industry. He has remained on that list every year since.

He also was named one of the Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans in the United States. All the while continuing to support several charitable and civic organizations. Johnson is the type of person and leader our community should be rallying behind.

And community leaders are responding. That includes a call for LAPD Chief Charlie Beck to assign an LAPD security detail for Johnson, when he is conducting business on behalf of the city.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson issued the following statement this week.

“The Police Commission has been the focus of the ongoing fight for police reform, but threats and intimidation against commission members have no place in that battle. The need for a protective injunction sought by Commission President Matt Johnson after alleged threats against him is disturbing. Mr. Johnson has been a major force for LAPD reform and accountability and I stand in support of him, his efforts and his safety.”

The call for LAPD protection and support for Johnson has been endorsed by several major civil right groups and leaders in our city. This includes leaders ranging from Rev. K.W. Tulloss of the National Action Network to Pastor Kelvin Sauls of Holman United Methodist Church, who was also threatened with violence by Black Lives Matter activists within the sanctuary of his church at a community meeting last year that featured Mayor Eric Garcetti as the guest speaker.

Under Johnson’s leadership, the Police Commission has advocated for use-of-force policies that emphasize de-escalation and the use of minimal force in encounters with the public. He also has been at the forefront in calling for the LAPD to share more information with the public about shootings by officers.

This is the type of police reform our community needs and have been calling for. This is a major reason that not one elected official has ever endorsed or supported the ridiculous demand that Black Lives Matter has made concerning LAPD police reform and calling for the firing of Chief Beck.

Gerard, who is a regular at commission meetings and speaks during the public comment, has a history of being disrespectful of the commissioners and has publicly called Johnson at board meetings a “houseboy” as well making statements during public comment “that Johnson should be scared of him and that Johnson should meet with him, apparently not while in a board meeting.”

I had a chance to look at a copy of the restraining order request. Johnson states that Gerard mouthed threats to him from the audience while the board meeting was in progress.

As Johnson states in the complaint: “These comments include ‘I’m going to beat you’re a**’ and ‘I am going to … kill you.’ These threats were made while he was looking directly at me, but because he did not speak them aloud, there was no recording.”

Johnson’s restraining order request calls for Gerard to stay at least 100 yards away from Johnson, his wife and children, and his home and the law firm where he works. Additionally, it would require Gerard to stay at least five yards away from Johnson during public meetings, though he may still address the Board of Police Commissioners during the public comment time. The matter will be heard in court on Jan. 10.

A public memorial service will be held for the legendary photographer Howard Bingham, who was a close friend and personal photographer of boxing icon Muhammad Ali. It will be held Jan. 6 at 3 p.m. at the historic First A.M.E. Church, 2270 Harvard Blvd., South Los, Angeles.

And finally, a public memorial service will be held for Harriett Mack, wife of John W. Mack, at 1 p.m. Jan. 7.  It will be held at Holman United Methodist Church, 3320 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles.

The Mack family expresses deep gratitude to the many friends who have expressed their great affection for Harriett and sympathies to the family. This loss is personal for me. John Mack is a personal friend, mentor and hero of mine. His daughter, Debbie, has been a friend of mine for nearly 20 years.  I will be there to support the Mack family and hope you will be there, also.

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