The Art of Doing

Superachiever Connie Rice on Partnering with Enemy Number One

In order to fight for justice, LA’s civil rights activist/lawyer and second cousin to Condaleezza, Constance Rice believes you have to change the system from within.

Constance Rice

How to fight for Justice

When we spoke to civil rights activist and lawyer, Connie Rice (second cousin to Condaleezza), for our book, Rice gave us a manifesto on how to fight for justice.

In her mission to serve what she calls the impoverished “invisible people” of L.A., Rice had waged war for decades against the entrenched power centers of L.A.—the city, the LAPD— with innovatively crafted lawsuits. But after time she saw that although she was winning in the courts, she was losing in the streets.

Rice told us: “If you see a need for change, you have to ask yourself, ‘Who has the power to get it done?'”

She realized if she was going to win, she’d have to “Change the system from within.”

In a bold move, Rice went on to partner with former gang members to stop the cycle of violence in L.A.’s poor communities. To change the LAPD’s style of “paramilitary policiing” to community-based policing, she partnered with her enemy number one, the LAPD itself, newly taken over by chief of police, William Bratton. Together Rice and Bratton significantly brought down L.A.’s crime rate and helped to curb some of the barbaric excesses of police abuse.

To fight for justice you have to outlast everyone, Rice told us. “There are a lot of folks who are a lot smarter than me. But I am more persistent,” she said. “I’m more determined and I’ve got more passion. The LAPD basically said, ‘She’s never leaving, so we may as well marry her.'”

This week Rice has written an article in the New York Times to endorse mayor-elect Bill deBlasio’s choice for Chief of New York City Police Department, her old pal, William Bratton.

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