June 13, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Civil rights activists respond to arrest of black TV/film producer, claim racial profiling in Beverly Hills

 

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There have been complaints about Beverly Hills police regarding racial profiling for years. (Thinkstock)

A group of civil rights activists is expected today to call on Beverly Hills to enact a “racial profiling prohibition” ordinance in response to the arrest of a black television and film producer.

“Civil rights organizations for years have gotten numerous complaints that Beverly Hills police target black males for unwarranted stops, frisks and harassment,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable.

Beverly Hills was the target of two federal lawsuits in the 1990s byblacks claiming they were racially profiled.

A group of seven black males filed suit in 1995. They agreed to drop the suit in 2000, with the settlement including the city forming a human relations committee to hear complaints about treatment by city personnel and to promote tolerance and ethnic diversity.

Then-Assemblyman Kevin Murray filed suit in 1998 after his car was stopped by police on his way to celebrate a primary election victory. His case was dismissed.

Charles Belk, 51, said he had been working at a pre-Emmy Awards gifting suite at an area hotel last Friday when he was arrested after being positively identified by an eyewitness to a bank robbery, police said.

Belk took to Facebook following his arrest, writing that he was walking away from a restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard when police grabbed him. He said he was handcuffed, forced to sit on a curb then taken to the police station, where he was held until about midnight, when detectives reviewed bank security video and realized he was not involved in the heist.

“I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know at the time that I was a law-abiding citizen of the community and that in my 51 years of existence, had never been handcuffed or arrested for any reason,” Belk wrote.

“All they saw was someone fitting the description. Doesn’t matter if he’s a ‘Taye Diggs BLACK,’ a ‘LL Cool J BLACK’ or a ‘Drake BLACK.”’

Belk also said he was never read his Miranda rights and could have been released sooner if police had simply reviewed surveillance video from the bank.

“We are taking these allegations very seriously,” Beverly Hills police Chief David Snowden said. “We take pride in the professionalism of our department and the high-quality service that we provide to those who live, work and visit our community.”

Police said Belk was detained because he matched the description of a man suspected of being an accomplice to Brianna Clemons Kloutse, 47, who was arrested last Friday following the robbery at a Citibank branch in the 8400
block of Wilshire Boulevard, between La Cienega and San Vicente boulevards.

Kloutse is suspected of being the “Purse Packing Bandit,” who has been connected to a series of bank heists in Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

The Beverly Hills Police Department announced Thursday it is conducting an internal investigation into Belk’s arrest.

“The arrest of Mr. Belk was lawful and proper based on the information known to the officers in the field at the time of the arrest,” Snowden said. “However, we should have done a better job once Mr. Belk was taken into
custody.”

Snowden said the department’s Professional Standards Unit was reviewing Belk’s allegations, but already, some initial “breakdowns” in the handling of Belk’s case have “been identified and will be addressed.”

Policies and training issues will be addressed in an attempt to prevent the recurrence of a similar incident, Snowden said.

“Ultimately, how we interact with the public we serve is what matters most,” Snowden said.

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