Glendale ANC Voices Concern on Officers’ Discrimination Suit

GLENDALE, CA–Leaders and activists from the Armenian National Committee of Glendale on Tuesday attended a session of the Glendale City council where they voiced concern over the city police department’s discrimination and harassment of five Armenian police officers. Below is the statement they read to the five-person city council.

On January 20, 2010, four current and one former sworn officers of the Glendale Police Department Filed a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit in Federal Court alleging Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation on the basis of National Origin and Ancestry. The allegations made in the complaint are both disturbing and appalling.  Even if a fraction of these allegations in the complaint are established in a court of law, the City of Glendale has a long way to go on the way to becoming the city that we all envision and deserve.

The Armenian National Committee of Glendale is gravely concerned about the statement made by the City Attorney, Mr. Scott Howard, immediately following the filing of the Complaint.  According to the Glendale News Press article of January 25, 2010, City Attorney Scott Howard stated, “There are many allegations in the complaint, which are absolutely, utterly false.”  We would  expect that  the City Attorney’s office at the very least, conduct a preliminary investigation before opining about the merits of serious allegations such as those contained in the complaint.

The Glendale Police Department has a track record of lawsuits stemming from discrimination and improper conduct by its officers, many of which have resulted in settlements or jury verdicts against the City, and even punitive damages against individual police officers.  The 2009 jury verdict and $1.58 million judgment, including attorney fees, in the Ovasapian v. City of Glendale case, is the latest example in this now long list of cases resulting in adverse court decisions.   The City’s inability and unwillingness to conduct meaningful and objective investigations into the merits of such complaints and police misconduct in the past, have resulted in many millions of dollars which Glendale residents have been forced to bear.

In fact, even after an adverse judgment in the Ovasapian case, the City Council, during public session, made a statement absolving the Police Officers and the Department of any wrong doing and assuming the $150,000 punitive damages award against the individual officers.  Despite the finding of malice by the Federal Court and jury, the Glendale City Council released the following statement during its October 27, 2009 meeting “We recognize that this was a very unfortunate incident, however… we find that the officers acted in good faith, without actual malice and an apparent best interest of the city of Glendale.”  In effect, the City Council condoned the wrongful acts of these police officers. Not surprisingly, both officers are named defendants in the current law suit.  

In the months to come, the judicial process will be guided by a Federal District Court Judge and the outcome decided by a jury.  In the meantime, It is very important that officials of the City of Glendale and the Glendale Police Department refrain from drawing conclusions about this lawsuit, until there is a full investigation and due process.  It is also very important that as the judicial process runs its course, the police officers presenting these charges be shielded from any direct or indirect workplace harassment or retaliation. The Armenian National Committee of Glendale will be closely monitoring this case with the expectation that there will be full transparency in the investigation, and the confidence that the judicial system will reveal the facts and lead to an ultimate fair outcome.

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9 Comments

  1. Hey4Life said:

    that is why it is important to educate the public to gather as much evidence as possible.   When is our public going to learn that in this country you need to have things DOCUMENTED, a paper trail.  Anytime there is a police brutality and or wrong doing (which we know does happen in Glendale) we need to have it a in a written and evidential form, something which will hold against them.  Otherwise, “he said and she said” will not get us anywhere.  But I am glad to see this lawsuit, we prob. should have Armenians installing video cameras in their cars to show all the unnecessary intimidations conducted by the GPD.

  2. Kiazer Souze said:

    Why in the City of Glendale do we have one token judge who is Armenian?  The population is 110,000 Armenians and  90, 000  others.  The judges are old grumpy whities who you can tell don’t care too much for Armenians. They are lopsided in favor of insurance companies and old white establishments in which they have their stock portfolios in.

    This cannot stand for long. Niether having a disproportionate amount of others in our city councils and etc….

  3. Hey4Life said:

    by the way I do acknowledge that there are many among us who drive like maniacs on the streets of LA, by now means I am defending that type of behavior.   (just to be fair)

  4. Krikor Sarkissian said:

    It is very sad, that in this day and age there are still narrow minded people.If the GPD allowed these incidents to occur;then the whole top brass should be fired and thrown out.No pension no retirement NO benefits.The city attorney’s comment even insinuates that some unlawful activities took place,when he says some of the allegations are false.There is ZERO tolerance in any police dept.

  5. Mike Gomez said:

    The allegations of discrimination and harrasment presented by these police officers is a very serious matter. This joint lawsuit will test the city and if these allegations are found sound in judicial review will most eventually cost the city millions of dollars. So, where was there an established and independent commission to review such allegations in the past? Why after various similar past lawsuits has the City of Glendale and council not decided on an independent police commission to investigate police and citizen’s complaints before they become serious issues. Our sister city of Burbank is a prime example of police allegations and complaints left unattended until they became public knowledge and eventually will cost thousands if not millions of dollars to its citizens. It might be to late for this round, but it is recommended that Glendale city council establish a truly independent police commission if only to prevent similar lawsuits in the future.

  6. Hovsep (Osik) Movsessian said:

    Folks this is a very sensitive matter and so far we don’t have any information; at least I personally don’t have any information whether those discriminations were against those five Armenian policemen or they witnessed police and/or court discriminating against Armenians or both.
    I carefully read the article and I didn’t see anything other than a flashback to an old lawsuit where City end up paying those big dollars; followed by related foolish comments made by the city attorney before the verdict.
    Just slinging mud to one side or another (what I’ve seen so far) at this point is not wise and could cause big damage to the case; therefore I strongly recommend to refrain from making any such comments; but again this is a free country and that is your right.
    With Regards,         
     

  7. Norin Radd said:

    Of course this kind of discourse would not be complete without at least one “pro bono” naive comment being made by a “Hye” actually having the nerve to defend the wretched persecutory opposition. Thank you Ms. Movsessian for championing “fairness” and all things clueless.
     
    I wish this was a mere light hearted situation of “slinging mud around”, but lets face it folks, the reality of the situation is that the Glendale Police Department has proven itself to be highly racist with the classic bigot “good ol’ boys” mentality, lacking the type of professionalism that should be present in law enforcement.
     
    I am a physician and I grew up in Glendale, and ever since I can remember the GPD has continually displayed a concerted effort to target and harass the Armenian residents of Glendale with impunity. Simple traffic stops for speeding or other moving violations are always turned into degrading fiascos of making two or three people sit on the curb with full blown car searches if the driver happens to be Armenian.
     
    You can have a a car full of WASP hooligans stopped for speeding and the officer won’t so much as second guess their intentions while ticketing them. But as soon as you get half a car load of Armenians stopped for the same reason, it becomes an all out “lets see what we can find on these guys” extravaganza. Grown Armenian men and women are also targeted and taken advantage of on a regular basis with unnecessarily aggressive traffic stops, especially those that have language barriers.
     
    Growing up, I saw both my friends and myself on the receiving end of this type of blatant abuse of power. Only recently, I was harassed yet again while driving home late night from the hospital after my shift. A gumshoe officer pulls me over “suspecting tinted windows” which I did not have, and after taking a look at my driver’s license he immediately takes on a highly aggressive posture asking ridiculous questions that were clearly way out of line. It took flashing my flashing my hospital ID to actually put him in his place so he could relax his harassing approach. Had my name not ended in “ian” or “yan” this clown of a cop would never have taken up his clearly racist posture. This is the degree to which the GPD has established a department wide policy of ethnic profiling, harassment, and abuse of authority specifically directed against the Armenian communities in Glendale and Burbank.
     
    The behavior of the GDP for the past 20 years is reminiscent of the LAPD prior to the Rodney King incident, and of course we all know how that ended, don’t we? In a community in which Armenians hold a clear majority which is becoming greater each year, there must be a degree of respect for that community, whether the GDP likes it or not. Otherwise, the GDP may one day cross the line just like the LAPD did and find itself up against 100,000 raging Armenians bent on finding accountability on the city streets.
     
    Glendale has become a boiler pot for years now and the Armenian community has just about had enough, it would be wise and prudent for those racists amidst the City Council, the GPD, and the rest of the circus to begin showing the respect that our community deserves, rather then sending the GPD out like hungry sharks ready to “disrespect and harass” instead of “protecting and serving” . Those that cannot do this, are welcome to move away from Glendale, and those that are still here should thank their lucky stars that Armenians have decided to settle in Glendale.
     
    Up until even the early eighties, there still were cross burnings at Verdugo park, lets not be quick to forget that “illustrious” past for Glendale. Brand Blvd. Central, and Pacific were desolate streets. Now they are booming centers for business and contribute greatly to the city’s economic health, thanks in no small part to Armenian small businessmen. Glendale also has one of the highest per capita of lawyers, physicians, and dentists serving the community, the majority of whom are Armenian. Large retail corporations have been drawn here and the city has been enhanced greatly because of the money the Armenian community spends, otherwise, they would not be here. Also lets not forget the little fact that Glendale has been in the top 3 in “safest cities in America”, in no small part thanks to the Armenian community which is harassed by the GPD at every turn.
     
    It is not surprising that this lawsuit has come up, it was inevitable given the department’s track record and the city council’s way of dealing with it. The City and the GPD would not dare behave this way had this been a Jewish community because the community and community organizations would hold them responsible both in civil and criminal court not to mention label them anti-semites. As such, the Armenian community should be diligent in doing the same, kudos to the ANCA for pursuing this, there should be more involvement and those responsible should and will be held accountable from now on. Anti-Armenianism WILL NOT be tolerated anymore in Glendale and Burbank, you can count on it.
     
    To fellow Armenians, in this day and age of electronics, carry a recording device with you, most phones have them built in. And whenever you’re stopped, press the RECORD button and set the device near the window. If there is harassment either verbally or physically, it is your duty and your right to report it and take any necessary legal actions needed. Also contact your local ANCA and other Armenian organizations and speak to them about it so that proper cases of harassment can be made public and those responsible held accountable.
     
    Police departments are there to serve the people and community, not act as heralds of a police state via targeting ethnic members of various communities. If they cannot do their jobs appropriately, then they should not be doing them at all. Enough is enough, the Armenian community has been far too lenient and patient in Glendale, from now on accountability will reign.

  8. i do admit... said:

    As an male Armenian. I hate authority. I hope they DO find corruption in the GPD. Living in the L.A. area for 33 years I’ve seen our people populate and grow in Glendale and abroad. In the late 80’s we were mainly made fun of because most FOB (fresh off the boat) Armenians didn’t wear deodorant (some still don’t), we had uni-brows and were very hairy. Los Angeles call these types of Armenians “Armos”.  That stereotype has slowly been replaced by lots of cologne, so called luxury automobiles that speed through residential streets, cigarette litterbugs, intimidating hard looks and double parking,  excessive honking stereotype which is actually not a stereotype. Its true. It just shows we not only think were better than others, we’re proud to show it ( like my COOL cousin who parks his white Benz at 7-11 at 2 am sideways taking up 2 parking spots with the doors open blasting Rabiz music. I’m so proud of him. J/K.) And because I have an enormous Armenian family with 50 cousins like what I just described, I can honestly say: Only about 2% of us Armenians recycle or care for the enviorment.  But cars and jewley is a must. Some of us ARE hard working honest and proud individuals like some of my uncles but somewhere along the lines we’ve let our next generation of Armrnians get spoiled and they’re running around in Glendale like a bunch of wanna-be Al Pacinos and Kim slut Kardashian. The public see this and the get rich quick scams, insurance frauds, hit and runs and other stupid crimes and when there is issue in GPD involving Armenians, the public remember the bad they’ve seen.  Never the good.  Lets tone it down people. I dont care that the cops are Armenian. I just dont want the word Armenian being associated a majority of bad people whether they’re Dr’s, city cousilmembers, businessmen or thugs.

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