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On Monday afternoon, in front of a group of protesters at the intersection of Sunset and Laurel, near the legendary Chateu Marmont hotel and the famous Laugh Factory, he gave one of the most emotional speeches left by the protests for the death of George Floyd at the national level. Cory Palka , commander of the Los Angeles Police Division West, knelt in front of a circle of youth, surrounded by photographers, officers, and protesters, megaphone in hand.
"This is an opportunity to express our freedom. We want to help you and partner with you. We do not want to be your enemy , we do not want to go against you," Palka said in a scene that has circulated on social media these days. Afterwards, he made a gesture of solidarity with those present. He promised to let them go in peace where they had come, without a single policeman crossing their path. "I give you my word of honor. We are in this together . "
In a subsequent interview, he did not hesitate to condemn Floyd's death at the hands of a Minnesota police officer on May 25, a holiday in the United States. "It has been murder, he has been arrested for murder and he will face the judicial system, which more than likely will convict him of this crime," he said. "It is a crime for me and for everyone. I don't know a single boss or police officer who defends something like that. It is terrible, embarrassing behavior, an absolute lack of common sense."
His action has made him more visible than ever after a 33-year police career . The man who has been in charge of several police operations during the protests is a Californian with a high level of education. An athlete in her student days, Palka graduated from criminal justice at the University of California Sacramento. In 1992 he completed a master's degree in Public Administration at the University of Southern California (USC). He has been a member of the FBI National Academy and has studied law enforcement in Boston, in addition to graduating from the USC Institute of Crime Control.
After joining the police force in the late 1980s, he obtained a promotion to sergeant in 1996, serving in the most troubled areas of Los Angeles. He is known in the department for his work with gangs in the south of the city. He was also involved in the demonstrations in the main Californian city, derived from the Occupy Wall Street movement that protested against economic inequality.
The Los Angeles Police Department biography describes him as "compassionate, energetic, and a strong leader . " On Monday he gave a good sample of it, also singing the mea culpa . "We are broken. We make mistakes but we try to be better every day, from the heart," he said in an interview during the marches. "We have made progress but we have a lot of work to do and the police chiefs know this. The solution is that we need to collaborate more, sit down and listen to the communities we serve. This has happened for the last three decades and we will continue that way."
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