Racial Terror and White Wealth in South Central

This section is a deep dive into data-driven policing’s deployment in South Central. This report first looked at South Central in part 3, connecting the role of capitalist crisis and real estate development to policing in these communities. Here we look closer at the impacts and operational details of that policing.

South of downtown and Skid Row, the historically Black neighborhoods of South Central have long been targets of police abuse. This is another place that LAPD has always honed new forms of racial violence, surveillance, and brutality. Operation LASER first launched in 2011 at LAPD’s Newton Division, headquartered on South Central Avenue, before spreading to four additional divisions including Southwest Division by December 2013. [193]

LASER helped automate the forms of violent policing that have always been used to terrorize residents of South Central, including “broken windows” policing, “proactive” and pretextual targeting of Black pedestrians and drivers, stop-and-frisk, militarized raids, and gang injunctions. Data-driven policing builds on this violent policing as well linking it to the displacement, banishment, and gentrification of the community’s Black residents. Racialized policing of South Central cannot be separated from the gentrification the community is experiencing today, pushing out the traditionally working class Black and brown communities to make room for real estate speculation, corporate mega-projects, and predominantly white displacers.

This section examines data-driven policing’s role in both banishing Black residents of South Central while empowering white capitalists, developers, and gentrifiers who are seeking to transform the area for profit. The first half of this section, titled Operation LASER’s Racial Terror, shares what we’ve uncovered about the impact of LAPD’s “predictive policing” programs in the Crenshaw Corridor. The second half, Black Self-Determination, White Wealth, and Data-Driven Policing , explores police-developer collaboration in those same areas.

Operation LASER’s Racial Terror

“It is easier to sell a person to a cop first than it is to sell a location to a cop.”
— Dennis Kato, former Commanding Officer of LAPD South Bureau

Operation LASER launched in 77th Division (which covers Crenshaw, Athens Park, Chesterfield Square, Gramercy Park, Hyde Park, South Park at 51st and Menlo, Vermont Knolls, Vermont Park, and View Heights) in March 2015 with six LASER zones, whose general role we introduced above in part 2 of this report. [194] In 2016, Anchor Points (also introduced in part 2 above) were added to the plan, with at least five locations in 77th Division designated Anchor Points. [195] Meanwhile, records from Southwest Division reveal the location of five LASER zones [196] and at least eleven Anchor Points, [197] starting in 2015. In addition, local high schools are also outlined on Southwest Division maps, suggesting a strategy of monitoring and criminalizing young people through these programs as well.

LASER’s demographic targeting was hardly accidental. LASER’s architects specifically studied the community’s demographic and racial characteristics and then used crime data to assign criminality to those characteristics. An internal report dated June 2016 from Justice and Security Strategies (JSS), the consulting firm that built Operation LASER, matched the locations of incidents that LAPD recorded as violent or gun-related and then used census data to link race, age, and additional characteristics to these locations. [198] JSS thereby concluded that this crime was more likely to be “located in areas where there is a higher percentage of African-American residents,” and “more likely to be located in areas with lower owner-occupied housing and higher female-head of households.” Many of the areas deemed “high crime” in this analysis coincided with what would later be labelled Anchor Points or LASER zones, turning everyone in these areas into a potential suspect.

LAPD’s LASER zones and Anchor Points for the Crenshaw corridor are shown on the map below, along with the names of people who LAPD shot or killed inside those LASER zones. Also outlined is the location of LAPD’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP, described in more detail in part 6 of this report) site at Harvard Park, established in 2017. The residential housing area facing takeover by corporate landlords discussed in part 3 of this report is indicated near the bottom left corner.

Crenshaw, Southwest Division, 77th Divison Map of all the Data Driven Policing Programs

As we began to examine the detail of Operation LASER’s violence in the Crenshaw Corridor, we began uncovering stories of multiple people who LAPD shot or killed in the area’s LASER zones and Anchor Points. These include:

●      Jamar Nicholson, a 15-year-old Black youth, had stopped with friends in an alley on the way to school. He had been rapping and dancing with his friends, which they later explained was part of their routine before school. Police shot into the group and hit Jamar in the shoulder. [199]

●      Redel Jones, a 29-year-old Black disabled woman, was killed by police following a reported robbery at a store across from the Crenshaw Mall. [200]

●      Keith Bursey Jr., a 31-year-old Black man, was killed by police after GED profiled the car and people he was with as being “gang” related. [201]

●      Gilbert Henry, a Black man, was shot by Metro Division officers who were “assigned to crime suppression in 77th Area” and “attempted to detain [him] for drinking in public.” [202]

●      Grechario Mack, a 30-year-old Black man recently released from incarceration, was having a mental health crisis when shot to death by police inside the Crenshaw Mall. [203]

This violence demonstrates the deadly toll of the LASER program, its Anchor Points, and more broadly the larger rationalization of "location-based" policing through data-driven surveillance. As we examined the details of LASER, we began to recognize how these shootings and killings were some of the most tragic excesses of a broad and relentless campaign of data-driven racial terror.

Operation LASER was implemented differently in each LAPD division but the overall purpose was the same: declaring specific areas “high-crime” and saturating them with police to contain, surveil, criminalize, harass, extract, and banish people. Police deployed in these areas were also armed with Palantir-generated “mission” sheets offering vague profiles of potential “criminal” suspects, along with Palantir Mobile notifications that put so-called “Chronic Offenders” notices and other data at police fingertips. [204] This technology galvanized officers, who felt primed by “data” and “intelligence” to violently target specific people, profiles, and zones. [205] Internal LAPD announcements and information about also revealed a zeal for dehumanizing the people and neighborhoods being targeted. For example, the first slide of Mission Division’s internal PowerPoint presentation about LASER in March 2017 (shown below) appears to show a laser burning through local neighborhoods.

Along the Crenshaw Corridor, LAPD tactics in LASER zones and Anchor Points could be grouped into four categories: “Crime Suppression,” Surveillance, Infiltration and Community Policing, and Person-Based Policing:

Crime Suppression - The “crime suppression” tactics used by LAPD during Operation LASER included increased “high-visibility” patrols and footbeats and even LAPD decoy cars, sometimes parked at local businesses, to boost the impression of police presence. Multiple units were assigned to patrol LASER zones and Anchor Points with the overarching purpose of “crime suppression.” The time spent by cops in each area was referred to as “dosage,” and units logged their citations, arrests, field interviews, traffic warnings, pedestrian and traffic stops, guns taken, and hours spent in the area as weekly “results.” The broader violence of LAPD’s data-driven “crime suppression” missions is examined in closer detail later in this section.

Surveillance - Over the years LAPD has tested and expanded its surveillance infrastructure in South Central, including with the help of business partners like Target Corporation, which purchased Palantir for LAPD in 2007, [206] funded LAPD’s regional crime centers in 2008, [207] and donated police technology and cameras at Baldwin Hills and the Crenshaw District in 2009. [208] In 2010, 300 patrol cars in South Bureau were fitted with in-car video at the cost of $5.5M. [209] License plate readers were also used to track people’s locations through the Palantir system, with LAPD conducting more than 60,000 searches for 10,000 cases in 2016. [210] That year, LAPD Commander Dennis Kato (who oversaw the 77th, Southeast, Southwest, and Harbor Divisions) [211] explained how LAPD used this system for dragnet searches, for example setting it up around a home where police expected a “big gang party” to identify everyone there. [212] LAPD also deployed “Business Cars” to meet with business owners and suggest “harden the target” strategies, including recommendations to owners regarding adding lights and CCTVs, and giving LAPD access to cameras. [213]

Infiltration and Community Policing - Community policing strategies under Operation LASER included the assignment of two Senior Lead Officers (SLO) [214] for each Anchor Point, tasked with conducting activities like Coffee With A Cop, walking “footbeats” and handing out flyers, attending neighborhood council meetings and parent meetings at high schools, attending community resource fairs, and meeting with business owners. [215] LAPD’s Community Volunteer Program attempted to recruit residents to its “crime prevention” team, and LAPD’s Community Relationship Division (CRD) was established in 2016 to "place officers in key neighborhoods where distrust of police is highest.” [216]

77th Division LAPD Community Policing Newsletter

Person-Based Policing - In addition to the ongoing surveillance, monitoring, and harassment of “chronic offenders” within Operation LASER’s person-based policing, Metro Division officers also conducted “targeted parole compliance checks and high visibility policing.” [217] People in and around LASER zones were further targeted by LAPD’s Parole Compliance Units (PCU) that were directed to “focus on problem areas” including LASER zones, [218] and VICE Units, deployed in part to monitor “underground parties, street robberies, aggravated assaults.” [219] Entire communities were also targeted through undercover surveillance and gang raids, such as a raid and the arrest of 15 people including community elders in Baldwin Village in 2017. [220]

The Racist Brutality of LAPD’s Data-Driven “Missions”

LAPD’s data-driven “missions” within LASER zones targeted specific locations for relentless police stops, questioning, brutality, and arrests. These missions were plotted through Palantir’s “Mission Control” interface from the Community Safety Operation Center (CSOC) spy garrisons we introduced in part 2. Legions of police were dispatched to these locations and given profiles of who to stop (sometimes as vague as a “Black male” robbery suspect, as noted below), tasked with “transient suppression” or “gang suppression,” or just directed to the area to harass whoever they wanted. At the same time these missions were data driven, they also generated mass data on the community, gathering people’s personal information, mapping networks and relationships, and tracking locations and movements. Back at the CSOC, the missions were evaluated based on how many stops, arrests, and FI cards officers generated.

LAPD units terrorized the communities during these data-driven “missions.”  One mission sheet from Metro Division for the Crenshaw Mall area in 2017 resulted in 110 stops over 4 days. [221] Another (shown below) produced 511 stops over 4 weeks, in addition to 34 FI cards and 38 arrests. [222] These tactics could even span months: a Southwest Division report for a 14-month mission to suppress “street robberies” in the Crenshaw Corridor from June 2017 to August 2018, listed 6299 stops and 908 Field Interviews, all supposedly conducted on “suspects involved in street robberies” between Coliseum Street and 48th Street, a 1.3 mile stretch. [223] With the perpetual surveillance and patrols, more data was harvested on people who lived or worked in the area, including license plate, social media accounts, email address, social security number, identifying marks, and more, all for LAPD databases. All this data increased the future harm these individuals face from police.

LAPD Palantir Generated Mission Report in Crenshaw Corridor with map.

LAPD “use of force” reports from 77th and Southwest Divisions indicate how everyday conduct by community members in their neighborhoods, such as talking with a friend on the sidewalk in the evening [224] or sitting in one’s car waiting for the radiator to cool down [225] have been viewed as “suspicious” by police and used to subject people to chokeholds, beatings, and deadly force. Police contact on the basis of routine suspicion could also lead to rape and sexual assault. [226]

The violence only escalates for people who police detain. Between 2007 and 2020 at least eight people have died while in LAPD custody at LAPD’s 77th Division. Logs from the 77th Street Regional Jail from 2012 to 2016 further list 23 suicide attempts, the second highest after Metro Detention Center. [227] Jailing also extracts a massive financial toll, including through bail set by police (prior to arraignment in court) or by a judge based on police allegations: “Bail multiplies the ways in which people are vulnerable to the whims, lies, and racism of police,” since upon making an arrest, “police hand the baton to prosecutors and judges who use bail to coerce people to accept plea deals that will brand them criminals.” [228] From 2012 to 2016, South Central was home to four of the top five L.A. zip codes that paid the most amount of money in both non-refundable bail and total bail. [229]

The racial disparities in LAPD’s data-driven terror are stark. Black people are 9% of the city population yet made up 27% of people stopped by LAPD in 2019, while white people are 29% of the population and 8% of stops. [230] And while Black people are far more likely to be stopped, stops of white people were more likely to find contraband. LAPD also uses stops to collect and mine data on Black people at far higher rates, filling out FI cards during 16% of stops of Black people and only 5% for stops of white people. These practices have since been exposed as being fueled by a “de facto quota system” that involved the falsification of information about people stopped in order to meet expected goals regarding stops, arrests, and citations. [231] From 2020 to 2021, ten Metro officers were accused of falsifying information on FI cards and another 19 were suspected of complicity observing the falsifications, though none of the latter have been charged with misconduct.

Data-driven policing shapes this racial terror not only through the targeting of specific locations but also the profiles that police data analysts group as crime “trends” and hand to patrol officers. LAPD records from Southwest Division show police looking for crime “clusters” on the map, then noting “trends” in this data that are as vague as “Male Black 15-30yoa,” “male Black suspects 20-32yoa,” “female Black suspects 20-30yoa,” “male Hispanic Suspects 20-26yoa.” [232] Sometimes the list of “trends” for a cluster of “suspects” was simply Black males:

Map of CIM Group properties acrosss Los Angeles with properties in Opportunity Zones highlighted

By providing only vague descriptions, these mission sheets ensured any Black person could be stopped for “meeting the description.” In addition, Black youth were further subject to policing in and around schools, a number of which are also located in the area of Crenshaw Corridor. From 2011 to 2013, youth attending high schools and middle schools along the Crenshaw Corridor, including Audubon Middle School and Crenshaw Senior High, experienced some of the highest rates of ticketing and arrests of all students in schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. [233]

Unhoused people were also targeted in these missions. A 2016-2017 activity report from 77th Division includes entries like “Disposed of encampments and cleared alley,” “Addressed transient encampment to the rear of Home Depot,” and “Addressed homeless encampment complaint issue.” [234] In Southwest Division, Anchor Points along Crenshaw Blvd were reported as “having a problem with transients loitering” and “being a problem location for several years” for “ drinking in public, illegal vending, loitering, and panhandling.” [235] Though LAPD’s documents regarding strategies at these locations are heavily redacted, what was published acknowledges that LAPD units will “continue to put pressure on the location.”

Black Self-Determination, White Wealth, and Data-Driven Policing

With that backdrop of the function and toll of data-driven policing of South Central LA, we now turn to the role of real estate development. As noted in part 3 of this report, the financial crisis and Great Recession of 2008 led to a foreclosure crisis in South Central. Corporate landlords and wealthy investors from outside LA’s historically Black and brown neighborhoods exploited this capitalist crisis to expand their hold on the community.

That encroachment and real estate speculation grew with the Opportunity Zone Program created in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which created major tax breaks for banks investing in historically underdeveloped communities. Yet when Nipsey Hussle and other Black residents tried to orient those same investment opportunities to prevent displacement, secure Black wealth, and protect the community, they were targeted and harassed by police.

Today that comparison between assertions of Black self-determination and white investors looking to displace the community is especially resonant in the fight for Black-led community ownership of the Crenshaw Mall. A longtime gathering place and community hub for South Central’s Black residents, the mall has also long been a target of data-driving policing. LAPD built a substation inside the mall after the 1992 uprising, [236] and the entire mall was marked as a LASER zone in 2015. Police then killed two men in the mall during Operation LASER: Samuel Lee Jones, killed by LAPD on June 25, 2014 [237] after a mall security guard accused him of shoplifting, and Grechario Mack, killed by LAPD on April 10, 2018 while having a mental health crisis. [238] In the days that followed, Community Relationship Division (CRD) officers “provided footbeat support and community outreach.” [239] LAPD mission sheets then show that, just a few months later in late November 2018, a time when people typically would be shopping for the holidays, LAPD deployed a “HIDE car” (a parked car containing valuables within plain view, so police could entrap and arrest people who try to break into it). As seen in the mission sheet generated from Palantir to the left, police even noted that this was “the holiday season.” [240]

LAPD Patrol Mission Report Generated by Palantir Describing a map and assigned cops to police and terrorize

Later in this section we examine LAPD’s relationship to CIM Group, a mega-investor that tried to purchase the Crenshaw Mall in 2020, along with other deep-pocketed investors seeking to extract the community’s wealth. But first we begin by looking at how data-driven policing programs like Operation LASER targeted residents who were working toward Black self-determination and land ownership.

LAPD’s Targeting of Black Self-Determination

“The City Attorney’s office was trying to end us. Literally. They wanted to expel The Marathon Store from Slauson Plaza.”
— David Gross

As outside investors looked to move in flanked by police, community members continued to maintain a fierce culture of resistance. Residents like artist and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle, who grew up in the Crenshaw District expressed a vision for the area in a way that was inclusive of existing communities and considerate of what neighbors needed. [241] In 2017, Nipsey purchased the Marathon Clothing Store at 3420 West Slauson Plaza. About the store’s location, Nipsey explained: “It was an important intersection, there was a lot of commerce going on. It made sense. We wanted to have our own space, and tell our own story.” [242] Key to that self-determination was owning the land: “This was always one of our dreams - in this parking lot we were always outside hustling in the actual lot, and we realized it made sense to be owners, or for us to have businesses in this parking lot.” [243]

Two years later, Nipsey partnered with longtime collaborator David Gross to purchase the entire strip mall where Marathon was located, with plans to build a six-story mixed-use plaza that included low-income residential units. [244] The project was part of a plan to accumulate more properties and link them to a newly created investment fund called Our Opportunity that would take advantage of the new Opportunity Zone program enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This law created generous tax breaks for profits generated in certain economically distressed neighborhoods. By 2019, the Treasury Department had designated 8,700 zones nationwide as Opportunity Zones.

While the Trump administration and others promoted Opportunity Zones as a vehicle for capital investments in Black neighborhoods, Nipsey recognized that the program would enable displacement and extraction by outside investors. [245] The idea behind the Our Opportunity fund was to allow smaller local investors to purchase homes in the community while receiving a tax break that otherwise would likely have gone to wealthy outside opportunists. Yet while Nipsey planned out and invested in ways to benefit the Crenshaw community he grew up in, LAPD continued its surveillance of residents. This is how Nipsey explained it in a 2013 interview:

We got police in our area called gang police that, like, they'd come through and get to know you, you know what I'm saying? They'd come hop out, ask you questions, take your name, your address, your cell phone number, your social, when you ain't done nothing. Just so they know everybody in the hood. [246]
— Nipsey Hussle

This aligns with what is known about how people were tracked using Field Interviews during LASER: the program’s architect Craig Uchida has explained that he sought to increase police patrols in LASER zones, with police stopping people and collecting their data using FI cards because, even if the information “didn’t lead to anything, it was data that went into the system, and that’s what I wanted.” [247]

At the time of his death in March 2019, Nipsey was being investigated by LAPD based on their claim that Marathon was a front for “gang activity,” [248] and City Attorney Mike Feuer was trying to remove the store from Slauson Plaza. David Gross reported that the City Attorney had harassed Nipsey and his businesses for years: “When I partnered with them to buy the lot, I got to experience the way these systems work together first hand. The City Attorney hated (with ALL their hearts) that their maniacal zeal to expel the Marathon Store from Slauson Plaza actually resulted in us buying it and planning to develop it.”

Anchorpoints in 77th Division 3 near Nipsey Hussles The Marathon Store Location
LAPD Palantir Mission Sheet showing a robbery report and assigned patrols to LASER Zones in 77th Division

Unknown to the community then was that the intersection where Marathon was located had been marked by LAPD as an Operation LASER Anchor Point since at least 2016 [249] and was part of a larger LASER Zone since 2015. [250]   Palantir mission sheets for the intersection show systemic police stops, searches, and profiling. For example, a mission sheet for the intersection dated June 28, 2017 – less than two weeks after the grand opening of Nipsey’s Marathon Store – appears to indicate that a single patrol car made 103 stops and 3 arrests in a 7-day timespan. [251] The apparent robbery “suspect” was only indicated to be a Black male between 16 and 18 years old – not at all descriptive but apparently enough to justify 103 stops. Another mission sheet for the 7 days prior shows 58 stops and 7 arrests, all apparently looking for the same 16 to 18 year old Black male “suspect.” [252]

Police stops at this intersection during this time period even ended in death. On June 10, 2016, GED Officer Kumlander stopped a car in the area of Slauson and Crenshaw on the basis that – according to the official account – a person in the car was wearing a black White Sox baseball cap. [253] During the stop, Kumlander killed 31-year old Keith Bursey Jr., shooting him twice in the back. This was one of six LAPD killings of Black and Latino men in or around LASER zones during a short six month period in 2016. Bursey was a beloved brother, son, and father. He is remembered for his athletic ability, his love of dance, and his disarming humor. [254]

Opportunity Zones and White Wealth

While Black residents of South Central endured constant police terror and surveillance, along with targeting of their businesses and neighborhoods the City Attorney, wealthy outside developers eyed the same area for exploitation. As noted in part 3 above, the 2008 housing and foreclosure crisis enabled large corporate investors to sweep up properties previously owned by South Central residents. More recently, developers, banks, and speculators have been further drawn in by the Opportunity Zones introduced in 2017. Many of these investors have close connections to LAPD, as do their investment patterns.

The city’s Opportunity Zones are mapped out in a prospectus generated by the Mayor’s Office to attract investors. [255] Here the map of those zones for Council District 8 has been modified to include the location of Anchor Points, LASER zones, and a Community Safety Partnerships site:

Council District 8 Summary Opportunty Zone Map of Crenshaw Corridor Policing Programs

While the Opportunity Zones bill was not signed into law until December 2017, [256] there is a clear overlap between historically under-funded neighborhoods (the neighborhoods the city was trying to entice investors towards), and neighborhoods that have been relentlessly bombarded, harassed, and occupied by police. Competing against Nipsey Hussle and other local Black investors for ownership of land and business along Crenshaw Corridor are several mega-developers and real estate speculators. Two of these actors are profiled below, with emphasis on their relationship to LAPD.

CIM Group

CIM Group is a global commercial real estate firm based in L.A. In January 2019 the firm capitalized on the Opportunity Zones law by creating the CIM Opportunity Zone Fund with a goal of $5 billion. [257] According to a May 2020 presentation titled “Opportunity Zone Fund” and marked “Confidential Information” and “Trade Secret” (excerpt below), the firm owns dozens of properties in Opportunity Zones along West Adams Boulevard, along Crenshaw Boulevard (between Obama Blvd and West Adams Blvd), along South La Brea, and in Hollywood. [258]

Map of CIM Group properties acrosss Los Angeles with properties in Opportunity Zones highlighted

CIM Group’s co-founder Shaul Kuba came up in section 3 above, in our exploration of how the City Attorney uses threats of CNAP cases to coerce business owners out of neighborhoods in collaboration with corporate investors. Emails obtained by journalist Adrian Riskin, who had exposed that West Adams episode, also exposed the relationship between Kuba and LAPD’s Peter Zarcone. [259] The emails are from January 2015, and Monica Yamada, a CIM Group principal invites Zarcone (at the time a Hollywood Station commanding officer and today a Deputy Chief), to lunch “at my new office.” After the two have lunch, Yamada emails, "I know Shaul was happy to meet with all of you." LAPD’s Zarcone replies that "it was great meeting Shaul, and I'm glad to learn of your plans around Sycamore and Romaine."

In addition to working for CIM Group, Yamada also served as president of the Hollywood Property Owners' Alliance (HPOA), which manages two BIDs. Since November 2014, when Yamada became HPOA president, the group has paid for a network of wireless surveillance cameras monitored from LAPD’s Hollywood Station. [260] HPOA also paid CIM Group for use of mapping software to “track and monitor security and graffiti incidents.” [261] Meanwhile CIM charged LAPD yearly rent of $1 from 2008 to 2018 to host a substation and “logistical base” at 6801 Hollywood Blvd, a shopping center owned by CIM Group. [262] In other words CIM literally funded real estate for a local LAPD garrison.

The two BIDs managed by HPOA aggressively targeted unhoused people. The BIDs sometimes arrested unhoused people at rates higher than LAPD and in 2013 were “responsible for more than 1% of all arrests made in the entire City of Los Angeles that year even while working only 0.13% of the hours that the LAPD did.” [263] In 2016 the BIDs used Municipal Code 41.18d to arrest people sitting or lying on the sidewalk, handcuffing them and taking them to the LAPD substation paid for by CIM Group. [264] CIM has since expanded its ownership of properties in Hollywood with new buildings at 926 and 953 Sycamore Avenue, which are both near the same intersection where Monica Yamada, the HPOA president and CIM Principal met with LAPD’s Zarcone to share her “plan.” [265]

In addition to Hollywood, CIM Group also has multiple developments along Crenshaw Boulevard, including at the Jefferson and West Adams intersections. Both those intersections were Anchor Points within LASER Zone 5 of Southwest Division. [266] Documents from LAPD are heavily redacted, but they indicate that unhoused folks were frequently targeted as part of the surveillance and policing of these areas. [267] In April 2020, CIM Group attempted to expand further south along Crenshaw Boulevard, announcing its intention to purchase the Crenshaw Mall. The plan was to convert some former department stores into offices, in anticipation of the migration of office tenants from Culver City. [268]

CIM withdrew its offer to buy the mall just two months later, following the opposition and quick action of local residents protesting CIM’s plans, including through the submission of more than 10,000 petitions gathered by the community group Downtown Crenshaw Rising (DCR). [269] After CIM withdrew, DCR engaged in a fundraising campaign to buy the mall, submitting a bid in August 2020, followed by a larger bid in March 2021 after the mall owner demanded a higher offer. As noted by DCR on March 4, 2021: “We are competing against major outside developers who specialize in gentrification mega-projects.” [270] Despite a detailed plan, experienced development team, the support of over 300 community groups, and the highest bid, DCR’s offer was passed over in favor of Harridge Development Group, an LA-based developer headed by CEO David Schwartzman. [271]

Harridge Development also owns an 18-acre lot in Inglewood near SoFi Stadium, where they plan to build a gated community of 228 condos for “highly educated tech workers” from “Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and Uber among the many tech-oriented companies nearby.” [272] In 2017, Schwartman described how expansion of the Crenshaw Metro line fit with his plans for profit in the area: "Grace Park is in a central location served by mass transit near what will be the world's most expensive stadium complex. We looked at it as the perfect storm. A lot is changing in Inglewood, and we're in on the ground floor." [273]

Goldman Sachs

Within days of the Opportunity Zone announcement by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who began his career at Goldman Sachs, the investment firm moved fast to pursue these tax breaks. In August 2018, Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs had quickly determined that “more than $5 billion” of “the roughly $7 billion the firm has deployed since its inception . . . went to projects in areas eligible to become opportunity zones” and thus potentially eligible for massive tax breaks.” [274] The same article noted that the Opportunity Zones law contains no protections to ensure that investors don’t replace affordable units with higher-priced rentals. In lieu of those protections, Goldman Sachs claimed it would “voluntarily measure the outcomes of its projects” to “align their goals with community priorities.” So not only would the mega-bank exercise massive power to gentrify neighborhoods, it would also assume the role of measuring and translating the community’s priorities.

Goldman Sachs is also deeply connected to the Los Angeles Police Foundation (LAPF), where Mnuchin served on the Board of Directors before joining the Trump administration. [275] LAPF is a nonprofit organization established to provide LAPD resources without the scrutiny that direct funding and donations face. In 2019, Goldman Sachs anonymously donated $250,000 through LAPF to fund the Community Safety Partnerships (CSP) program in Harvard Park. (While the donation was presented to LAPD as an anonymous gift, tax documents as well as audit records from LAPD’s Office of Inspector General confirm that this money came from Goldman Sachs. [276] )

Harvard Park is also in an Opportunity Zone, and one nearby intersection (Slauson and Western) has been an Anchor Point since 2015. CSP sites also have been testing grounds for LAPD surveillance, for example with wireless cameras streaming live video to local cop cars at the Jordan Downs public housing complex. [277] These cameras sites tell officers where youth may be gathering, and in the case of Richard Risher, an 18-year-old Black youth killed by GED officers in the Nickerson Gardens CSP (also a LASER Zone), the cameras filmed Richard’s murder by police. [278]

The relationship between all these actors and police is something we must continue to research and organize against. What is starkly clear is that while Black residents of South Central were forced to navigate threats of police violence and banishment, real estate developers collaborated with LAPD on displacement, even donating salaries, weapons, surveillance equipment, and real estate for police officers deployed in the communities. In part 6, we analyze how these developers have subsidized “community policing” programs that are integral to policing’s role in gentrification as well as funded “research” sanitizing this harm. Now integrated into data-driven policing, “community policing” and police reform are part of how the city secures white wealth while expanding Black subordination and even death.