On October 12th, 2021, State Representative William Benning was raided. His home and his person were searched by members of the Major Crimes Division of the Los Santos Police Department. When MCD or other Law Enforcement officers are asked to make a statement, they say “No Comment” due to it being an active investigation; this is a hidden policy that we’ve seen LSPD members tell others to say when approached by the News and clearly an excuse not to perform a duty to inform the public. Despite not having found anything and the high-profile nature of the raid, it has left many questioning corruption within the LSPD. William Benning was not arrested as would be expected if they had found anything. However, when searching and asking about the investigation, CNT has found itself increasingly stonewalled.
Case and point when it comes to William Benning, the search for concrete public evidence have come to only tangential witness statements, that William Benning threatened members of some group by claiming that he had an unmarked gun and was willing to use it he also threatened near the same time to increase the price of coffee and food that can be purchased at the Mission Row Police Department to incentivize its members to walk the streets instead of staying in their offices. That comment seems to have sparked more, and the raid was characterized as retaliation for such statements by a reasonably reliable source that wishes not to be identified. Members of all the branches of government refuse to bring forward any evidence to the public eye at this time. CNT has asked several times since October 12th for more information. This is despite laws that have been put forward by the State Representatives to allow whistleblowers to come forward, and it’s just been signed by the governor into law. All anyone can conclude is that they wish to hide evidence. Whether that’s justified or not, nobody will ever really know, especially when failed investigations don’t come to light.
Must the humans behind their desks and in their squad cars move along to those hidden internal policies, not the law, and continue to be pressured to keep silent? How are elected officials and Law enforcement to fight in the dark and combat corruption when laws like H.R. 034 – The Conflict of Interest Act sat since August 4th only to be tabled for rework. Our trust in those we put forward as champions of the people is quickly questioned when they become shackled to those same hidden internal policies. I say that as not even William Bennings coworkers will come forward to talk about it, and even in the legislature, hidden internal policies keep people from expressing themselves. William Benning a vocal exception to some of these in the legislature. So when the public hears that someone decides to break those hidden internal policies and chains, we are all even more conflicted. All reasonable human people do with our fear of the unknown is fight it or flee from it.
It becomes no surprise that when people turn to fight, they become more and more trapped in a system they feel no part in controlling. The Freedom of Information Act is invoked to find out any information, even when it comes to your records. A process that even a duly elected State Representative like William Benning needed to do to obtain his warrant! A request to ask for fundamental rights to one’s person must be pleaded to government departments hoping that someone did the paperwork.
To be blunt, it is quite the lost chance that we refused to view our state by those who leave, especially during what could be described as an exodus. Angry and emotional, and fearful people do not have invalid opinions or necessarily invalid facts. Many of the people left saying they no longer wanted to fight a system that didn’t listen. It is up to us to review the facts before us, even if it is a double-edged sword to be swallowed. Being a part of the news and reading the news is not about taking down big organizations, attacking or discouraging people, or taking pleasure in those things. It is about sharing the reality in which we partake to live up to those who have set us up for success and create a better informed, more inclusive community, not just for ourselves or to please our conscience but for others.
As we continue to watch and report, we hope that our efforts and those of the excellent people inside the state and government recognize the failure and take proactive measures to help with such things in the future. CNT doesn’t like to state problems without a solution. Already there are organizations inside and outside the government studying their various fields to develop creative solutions. Things like reducing the number of local take-out restaurants to promote better-supported restaurants, passing legislation to help whistleblowers come forward. We’re hoping to hear more and make them a reality.
Even this is unsatisfactory, CNT wishes to bring better, more clear statements as to why an elected state official was raided and why other such actions have not been taken versus others who have said worse things than what Benning is alleged to have said. However, we are actively and continually blocked by hidden internal policies. Every time our reporters try to follow up on anything like warrants, paid hits, or Executive branch procedures, like those inside LSPD and Medical services, “No Comment” is all we hear. Those hidden policies created by non-elected officials have become the law and overrule the freedoms of the press and free expression doing so either by obstruction, knowingly declining, or sheer ignorance as to the facts or inability to express in truthful words anything beyond, “No Comment.”