West Hollywood Black community leaders, including present and former West Hollywood Public Safety Commissioners, and a West Hollywood task force and Advisor Board member, released statements in solitary with Shea Gibson, the Operations Manager of Block by Block.
Following a recent controversy where a local blog dug up Mr. Gibson’s past life from 27 years ago and wrote about his voluntary manslaughter conviction in Georgia, in 1995, community members made statements supporting Mr Gibson for paying his debt to society and serving his time. Support was expressed via statements submitted to this publication.
Statement by Tod Hallman (Safety Commission Chair)
I am Tod Hallman, and I have lived on the Eastside of the City of West Hollywood for over 30 years. I have been the WEHO East Neighborhood watch captain since 2015, and I currently serve as Chair of our city’s Public Safety Commission.
I was first introduced to Shea Gibson by David Aguliar, who was the Block by Block (BBB) Operations Manager prior to Shea’s tenure in that position. From our very first encounter, I felt completely confident that as David was moving into a new position, we were in very capable hands with Shea Gibson. Since 2019, Shea has served West Hollywood’s residents, visitors, and businesses with passion, devotion and professionalism. Many of you might not be aware that BBB was originally deployed on the Eastside in a limited capacity; however, since the program was so successful, its hours of operations increased, as well as its city-wide presence. Since day one I’ve had a wonderful working relationship with Shea. He’s thorough and has a full understanding of the public safety issues in West Hollywood. With City Council’s recent vote to reallocate Sheriff’s funding to increase our BBB Security Ambassadors, all hell has broken loose. Our once beloved BBB team has found itself in the crosshairs, especially Shea, as his past arrest record was brought to light. I personally find this infuriating as a Black man, for I question: would this be happening if Shea were White? Would we not find more compassion for a man who has already served his sentence? Would we not have asked more questions about the circumstances surrounding his case? With very little information about his past, there were some in our community who seemed to take pleasure in destroying a man’s career and name.
I’m tired of the racist undertones in our current climate, and yes, that includes West Hollywood. Shea Gibson paid his debt to society. Like anyone else, he deserves the opportunity to find redemption and a second chance at life. It’s insulting that his past is being used as a pawn in the current city debate. Shea’s tireless service to our community and a blossoming career are so easily destroyed for some with a political statement to make. A Black man remains too easy a scapegoat, even in this woke, liberal city.
I ask my fellow West Hollywood residents: do not condemn this man or anyone so easily. Accept that there may be a reality in which this man is a different person today than he was many years ago. Ask yourself: would you want to be defined in life by the worst mistakes of your life? Would you want society to throw you away without even thinking twice?
Statement by Alana Roshay (former West Hollywood Safety Commissioner Vice Chair)
I stand with Shea Gibson. As former Vice Chair of the Public Safety Commission I have worked closely with Mr. Gibson during my term and he has been consistently professional and respectful. Mr. Gibson’s commitment to the City of West Hollywood has been proven repeatedly since 2013. It is incredibly disappointing and hypocritical that the same individuals who are now using him as collateral damage to instill fear and panic–not to mention during an election year–are the same individuals who supported him and the entire Block by Block team to handle unmanageable and reoccurring issues the city was facing at Plummer Park, as well as the intersection of La Brea and Santa Monica Blvd. When the city approved to re-allocate ambassadors to these “problematic” areas, the number of incidents were dramatically reduced. This impact was due to Block by Block’s ongoing presence and immediate action. It is unclear as to why Mr. Gibson’s personal history after all these years has been dug up by local media when he has been nothing but an excellent contributor to West Hollywood.
According to Vice President of Operations Derrick Hughes, “Block by Block is in compliance with the City of West Hollywood’s procurement and vendor policies in that we conduct employment prescreening, including criminal background checks, on all job applicants after an applicant has been made a conditional offer of employment. In California, employment screening laws state that employers cannot ask about, or take into consideration, criminal convictions older than seven years. Based on the guidance of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, if a background check reveals a criminal conviction, Block by Block considers the nature and gravity of the offense; the time that has passed since the offense, or the employee’s completion of any sentence given as a result of the offense; and the nature of the job held or sought.”
It is crucial that we recognize that the action taken by local media failed to acknowledge how Mr. Gibson history complies with EEOC and to further publish Mr. Gibson’s history without provocation perpetuates the ongoing violence towards black men in this country. It ultimately becomes a distraction and divisive during a time where we should be working together.
Statement by Jonathan Wilson (Social Justice Task Force Chair)
Statement by Mallery Jenna Robinson (Transgender Advisory Board Member)
I am in solitary with Shea Gibson as an AfraCaribbean Transwoman and board member for The City of West Hollywood’s Transgender Advisory Board and believes in their capabilities as a leader.
Letter of Appreciation from LAPD
On the 25thof of November, Shea Gibson and Cesar Barrios were at an Auto Zone in LAPD’s Hollywood Division when they walked into an armed robbery in progress. Without a second’s worth of hesitation, your folks began efficiently de-escalating the situation. Mr. Gibson stayed inside of the store and began leading citizen bystanders to safety while Mr. Barrios stepped outside and called 911.
Once the suspect fled, Mr. Gibson and Mr. Barrios followed him, from a safe distance, and directed responding officers upon their arrival. After sufficient amounts of officers were at scene, Mr. Barrios and Mr. Gibson began diverting traffic so as to prevent unknowing citizens from wandering into a potentially life endangering situation.
Please pass along my sincere thanks to Mr. Barrios and Mr. Gibson for their valiant actions last November. Their conduct was instrumental in safeguarding the lives of many vulnerable community members and was well in keeping with the level of performance I’d expect from one of our officers here at the LAPD.
With much respect and admiration,
Detective II Douglas M. Johnson
Serial No. 37738
LAPD/Force Investigation Division