HomeNewsLocalCouncil Postpones $1 Million Allocation for Security at Jewish Institutions

Council Postpones $1 Million Allocation for Security at Jewish Institutions

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles City Council has postponed a vote on whether to allocate $1 million to fund nonprofit security services to protect Jewish places of worship, community centers and schools, after the proposal was expanded to include other faiths, and Wednesday the council is planning to revisit the motion after its summer recess.

Council members Katy Yaroslavsky and Bob Blumenfield, who originally co-sponsored the motion, changed their proposal to instead provide $2 million to the city’s Civil and Human Rights Department. The department would then allocate funding via a neighborhood security grants program that would be available to all faith-based organizations.

Yaroslavsky said the proposal has received support from Mayor Karen Bass, the City Attorney’s Office and interfaith leaders across the city.

“I believe that this is an appropriate and necessary change to ensure that all faith communities across Los Angeles are able to access these funds while also addressing the urgent need to increase security at Jewish institutions,” she said.

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez called for the item — which is expected to return to the council on July 30 following the end of summer recess — to be considered by the council’s Budget, Finance and Innovation Committee, as well as the Civil rights, Equity, Immigration, Aging and Disability Committee. Her recommendation was initially approved in a 8-6 vote with council members Yaroslavsky, Blumenfield, Heather Hutt, Tim McOsker, Curren Price and Traci Park voting against it.

However, moments later, Councilman John Lee, who had voted to support Rodriguez’s request, then voted against it, with his vote ultimately denying the request.

“I’m trying to ascertain why duly referring to both the budget and civil human rights committee is slowing down the process,” Rodriguez said. “If we’re not voting on this item today, I don’t understand why we can’t send it to the appropriate committees. We have a lot of financial decisions to make. They can be referred concurrently so that we have a full understanding.”

Yaroslavsky said she hoped the city’s program would mimic the state’s $80 million initiative to fund neighborhood security grants over the next two years, which will begin in the fall. She said the more committees her proposal has to go through, the longer it will take and the “less safe all our religious institutions will be over this summer.”

The $2 million is intended to fill in the stopgap and accelerate the state’s effort. Yaroslavsky added that she believes the city will be reimbursed by the state once its program is in operation.

Yaroslavsky and Blumenfield’s original motion aimed to allocate $400,000 to the Jewish Federation Los Angeles for its Community Security Initiative, $350,000 for a contract with Magen Am for community patrols, and $250,000 to the Jewish Community Foundation so it may provide grants to nonprofit organizations to support Jewish community safety efforts in the city, according to Tuesday’s agenda.

The motion came in response to a violent clash between Palestinian and Israeli supporters outside a synagogue in the Pico-Robertson district June 23.

“It was an escalation of tension felt across the country and we need to take it seriously, and act swiftly. The threats are real and the fear of a proxy war for what’s happening in the Middle East spilling onto our streets here in L.A. is real,” Yaroslavsky said. “I’ve said this many times, but I think it is important to reiterate that everyone has a right to peaceful protest … but that doesn’t mean there’s a right to violence and all of us deserve to feel and to be safe, and to live without fear of hate.”

Critics of the motion held a news conference at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday on the steps of City Hall to urge council members to vote against it. Members of about 20 organizations were expected to participate, including the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice, Union del Barrio, Unmute Humanity and Veterans for Peace.

The grass roots organization Ground Game LA released a letter from its Jewish members “with the full support of our membership” to council members Monday, calling the motion “flagrantly anti-Palestinian” by “holding up Jewish safety as the sole concern raised by these protests.”

It called the proposed $1 million allocation “a misallocation of public funds” and demanded it be withdrawn or rejected.

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