Call To Action!
Call to Action! For all those concerned about women’s rights and the devastating impacts of sexual assault on mostly women and children, we need to demand immediate and ongoing action by the City of Los Angeles. Sign on at the bottom of this petition to ensure that rape is a crime that is prioritized by the City of Los Angeles and its Police Department. As reported widely over the past two weeks, Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick released an audit this week that highlighted a backlog of more than 7,000 rape kits that have not been analyzed for DNA by the LA Police Department. This backlog includes cases going back more than 10 years. In fact, because of the lack of timely testing, more than 200 of the kits have exceeded the 10 year statute of limitations and are totally useless. At an October 10, 2008 Police Commission meeting, Chief Bratton acknowledged this audit, but said that it was not news to him. He and the Police Commission have known about it for over a year. However, neither the Chief nor any Commission members spoke about any progress that had been made in the past year to seek justice for rape survivors by analyzing this crucial evidence. Instead, the Chief said that the Department has the expertise to do it, but not the resources. We would argue, as others have, that the resources ARE available, they are just allocated to more politically popular areas. For example, the Chief and the Mayor have been adamant about putting more officers on our streets and have done so – on pace to help the Mayor keep his campaign promise to add 1,000 new officers in his first term. Yet, only 16 people were requested to work in this area of the crime lab, and were not funded. The Chief says he needs $7 million to fix this problem that he seemingly cannot find, yet more than $400 million is being spent to build the new, state-of-the-art LAPD headquarters. These facts tell us that rape survivors, women and children are simply not a priority in this City. In Laura Chick’s memo on this issue, she points out: “How is it possible that we are in this situation The answer is simple and obvious: The City, its elected leadership as well as the Police Department, has not given this issue the attention, resources and priority it deserves.” The Downtown Women’s Action Coalition is calling on allies, organizations and concerned individuals to speak out against this unacceptable situation. The City MUST make this a priority by immediately providing the staffing and other resources to eliminate this backlog. New York City eliminated a backlog of 17,000 rape kits within three years in the late 1990s. Based on that rate, LA’s backlog could be eliminated within 15 months. On October 29, the City Council allocated about $700,000 to begin to address this problem. That is simply not good enough. As Sarah Tofte from Human Rights Watch said in the LA Times, "Getting rid of the backlog won't mean anything to rape victims unless it translates into more investigations of rape cases, and more arrests, prosecutions and convictions. This is like someone trying to build a house without any blueprints." Sign below to support the demand to LA’s elected leaders and the LA Police Department to immediately allocate the resources really needed to eliminate this backlog by January 2010 and make an ongoing commitment to fund and staff this department. Pass on to all your colleagues, friends, and others!