AG Lynch’s Social Media|Town Hall Hits LA

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – In a wide-ranging discussion Thursday, actor Michael B. Jordan and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said social media could help police rebuild trust in black communities jolted after several high-profile officer-involved fatalities.
     During a live-streamed conversation at Facebook’s Playa Vista campus, Lynch and Jordan touched on 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody, and the events in Ferguson after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.
     Yara Shahidi, the 16-year-old star of ABC sitcom “Blackish,” also made a brief appearance to ask Lynch how the police can use social media to become more transparent and improve community relations.
     Lynch, who arrived in LA on Wednesday as part of her Community Policing Tour, said she had taken a “virtual ride-along” with LAPD officers which Twitter users could follow on their feeds. She said that law enforcement could apply the same principle to schools by allowing the public to watch officers interacting with students.
     “I know parents would love to see that. Other kids would love to see it,” Lynch said.
     The nation’s top prosecutor emphasized how important it is for young students to build relationships with officers at an early age so their perception of the police is more positive, noting a program in which uniformed officers read to 3rd grade students.
     “Having a way to connect, and using social media is really important. I think it can be a great tool,” Lynch said.
     Lynch is in town as part of a 12-city tour focusing on social media and technology. Her audience was made up of high school and college students who volunteer at the Los Angeles Police Department, and Hollenbeck Police Activities League and LA Sheriff Department officers.
     The prosecutor asked Jordan — known for his portrayals of a young inner-city drug dealer in the acclaimed HBO series “The Wire” and real-life shooting victim Oscar Grant in “Fruitvale Station” — how his performances had affected him personally.
     Jordan said the roles helped him “really put my ear to the streets and really understand what these communities are going through.”
     Grant was shot by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer in Oakland in 2009, an incident captured with several cellphone cameras.
     “Without technology, without camera phones, that Oscar Grant incident might never have been captured,” Jordan said. “Everything is transparent now through technology and social media.”
     Lynch agreed that social media had “really advanced” the discussion on community policing, because footage of tragedies has been posted on the platforms.
     “I know it’s difficult. Particularly when you’re a young person and you are watching someone literally lose their life. That is a very difficult thing to see and it has led to a difficult conversation about law enforcement,” Lynch said. “But I think it’s letting us honor those people who lost their lives by making things better. I think as tragic as it is and as hard as it is to see those events, they are an example of how social media is going to help us move this issue along.”
     Lynch said that she will issue a report on her findings from the tour later this year and highlight how law enforcement uses social media to connect with communities.

%d bloggers like this: