The Lynwood City Council in Los Angeles County has disavowed the comments of its city manager about the ambush shooting of two sheriff’s deputies in nearby Compton, including saying it was a case of “chickens come home to roost.”
“There have been comments made today by our city manager on his personal social media that are his personal opinions and don’t reflect the position of the Lynwood City Council,” the council said Sunday on Twitter. The city’s governing body gave no indication of whether City Manager Jose Ometeotl will face any disciplinary action.
— City of Lynwood (@MyLynwoodca) September 13, 2020
Lynwood neighbors Compton, where two deputies were repeatedly shot Saturday night by a man who approached their parked patrol car near a rail station and began firing at them through the passenger-side window for no apparent reason. The deputies were taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where they had emergency surgery and were expected to survive.
As they were being treated, protesters outside yelled “we hope they die” and blocked the entrance and exit to the emergency room, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. Protesters also were heard to tell law enforcement officers outside the hospital that they, too, would be killed, “one by one.”
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Ometeotl took to Instagram Sunday afternoon to post a picture of former Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X with a caption, “Chickens come home to roost.” The controversial Malcolm X originally made that reference in 1963 to make the point that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated because the violence he failed to stop came back against him. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor of President Barack Obama’s church in Chicago and a practitioner of black liberation theology, made the same reference when giving a sermon about the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the US, saying “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
The Lynwood city manager made a similar argument, saying, “The fact that someone randomly opened fire on deputies is to be expected in the society we live in today. The political climate and leadership of Sheriff (Alex) Villanueva has only sowed the seeds of anger and frustration in the community.” Ometeotl said the “shooting of anyone is wholly unacceptable” and that he prays for the deputies, but he added that “communities like Compton have been plagued by deputy gangs that inflict fear and violence in the community.”
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) September 13, 2020
Tactics used by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in fighting gang activity – Compton is the birthplace of the Crips and the Bloods – have long been criticized by local community leaders in the area as abusive. Compton Mayor Aja Brown called in 2018 for an investigation into a “rogue deputy gang.” A draft report this month by Loyola Law School said the Sheriff’s Department has had “deputy gangs” for 50 years.
The deputies who were shot, described as a 31-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man, both joined the Sheriff’s Department just 14 months ago. Ometeotl said “good deputies” never turn on corrupt co-workers for fear of retaliation and because those officers who are caught in wrongdoing often keep their jobs.
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Nevertheless, Twitter users called for the resignation or firing of Ometeotl, who changed his Instagram account to private from public amid backlash on social media. Change.org posted a petition demanding his resignation, which has gathered more than 550 signatures.
Other commenters said the city manager’s comments send a dangerous message. “This is the reason why people think it’s OK to ambush the police, throw rocks and bottles, and chant ‘We hope they die’ outside of the hospital,” one netizen said.
And this is the reason why people think it’s ok to ambush the police, throw rocks and bottles, and chant “we hope they die” outside of the hospital. City officials like Joel justifying this despicable act. @MyLynwoodca
— JRam (@JRamWorld) September 14, 2020
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