On July 7, 2022, the publisher of the WeHoville website posted a blog outing Block by Block Operations Manager, Shea Gibson for being convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Georgia– a crime that dates back 27 years ago in 1995.
Some community members condemned the blog, calling it a racist hit piece that attacks a Black man who served his time and paid his debt to society. They pointed out how Mr Gibson turned his life around to become an upstanding citizen who serves the City of West Hollywood.
Other community members called for the firing of Mr Gibson and questioned Block by Block’s vetting practices concerning ex-convicts. Commenters in WeHoVille also condemned council members who voted to increase the security ambassadors in the city of West Hollywood.
At a regular West Hollywood city council meeting on Monday, July 18, 2022, City Manager David Wilson read a statement from the City of West Hollywood concerning Block by Block’s hiring practices, specifically around background checks:
“Community safety is the City’s top priority and the City takes seriously its fiduciary obligation to ensure that contracted vendors meet legal requirements and ethical standards. The current two-year contract for Block by Block security ambassador services was approved on June 6, 2022. Selection of Block by Block followed a Request-for-Proposals process and a careful evaluation process. The contract will return to the City Council in August and we’re looking at the August 1st meeting for consideration of an expansion as directed by the city council on June 27th.
Regarding background checks, the RFP process by which Block by Block was selected includes specific requirements for adherence to guidelines established by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Block by Block has responded, in a statement, that it complies with state law in not taking into consideration criminal convictions older than seven years — the City respects Block by Block’s stated adherence to state law on this matter.”
The City Manager also read an excerpt from a statement by Block by Block regarding the company’s stance on Shea Gibson:
“Mr. Gibson is an excellent and valued member of the Block by Block team. Since joining the company as a Hospitality Ambassador in Santa Monica in 2013, he has received multiple promotions and continues to serve as Block by Block’s Operations Manager in West Hollywood, which is a position he’s held since 2019.”
Several community members spoke in defense of the Mr. Gibson during public comments at the council meeting. Support also came from Mayor Lauren Meister, Mayor Pro-Temp Sepi Shyne and council member John Erickson during council member comments.