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U.S. Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) has thrown her hat in the ring for mayor of Los Angeles. The community organizer and activist hopes to become the first Black woman mayor of the second-largest city in the United States.

“Our city is facing a public health, safety and economic crisis in homelessness that has evolved into a humanitarian emergency,” said Representative Bass in a statement confirming her plans to run for mayor. “Los Angeles is my home. Let’s do this — together.”

The congresswoman, who would be only the second sitting House member to become mayor of Los Angeles, has fought on behalf of the people since early in her career. As a social worker in the 1990s, she created a community coalition called CoCo, which sought to address the economic and social issues facing citizens in south Los Angeles through both action and policy. 

A legacy of service to community

Following that, Representative Bass was elected to the California State Assembly, and in 2008 she became the first Black woman in United States history to serve as speaker of any state legislature. 

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Today Representative Bass is known for introducing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill promotes widespread changes in the United States’ current system of policing. It passed the House of Representatives in March 2021.

The bill introduced by Representative Bass would end qualified immunity for law enforcement officers, create a national registry for police officer misconduct, prohibit racial profiling, and create other sweeping changes. The legislation would also redirect funding from law enforcement to community mental health and substance abuse support. 

Building coalitions for “concrete change”

However, despite bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act recently and abruptly was killed by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) who wouldn’t support ending qualified immunity for law enforcement. While several lawmakers tried to reason with Senator Scott, he ultimately refused to support the bill. 

Meanwhile, Representative Bass vows to continue fighting for the people she represents — and those she hopes to be her constituents in the future. The former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus has plans to support all Los Angeles citizens through coalition building and community support. ”I’ve spent my entire life bringing groups of people together in coalitions to solve complex problems and produce concrete change,” she said in a statement, “and with my whole heart, I’m ready.” 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...