• Was It a Riot or a Revolution?

    The Semiotics of the Watts Insurrection

    By Danny Simon, Contributor              
     
    The Watts Rebellion began Aug. 11 and ended Aug. 17, 1965, after an altercation between a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s unit and a group of black citizens escalated violently.

    Six days of fires, looting and violent confrontations between members of the black community, local law enforcement and the California National Guard that enforced martial law, left 34 dead and more than $40 million in property damages. Amid the ashes, the mass media rushed in to report from the newest war zone—not in Vietnam, but in the City of Angels.

    For a brief moment, the nation was wide awake and its eyes moved to the plight of urban black America in the American West as never before — or since. Previously, black Los Angeles was largely ignored in the media, or occasionally covered by black journalists like retired Los Angeles City Councilman Robert C. Farrell. But the sensationalism surrounding the 1965 Watts Riots produced a rabid curiosity, which was partially satiated by popular books and articles that attempted to put the events into context. This happened while espousing a wide range of ideological positions on American history and culture. What is astonishing is the range of perspectives that this one event spawned, and that some writers actually took the time to ask the right questions and formulate answers that got to bigger truths. This in stark contrast to the limited McCone Report, the government’s investigation and report, which largely exonerated police officials and ignored structural poverty and racial segregation.

    In A Journey into the Mind of Watts, a young Thomas Pynchon went to the streets and brought back some straight answers, a feat that seemed to mystify so many at the time. Systematic ghettoization, poverty and police harassment led a slim minority of the population of Watts to rebel against anything they could. Leave it to a surrealist fiction writer to be a rare clarion voice in the midst of so much pain and confusion. In A Prelude to a Riot, Paul Jacobs addresses the structural issues of race and poverty that led to the insurrection of poor urban blacks against a system that failed to address their concerns: police brutality, ghettoization, white ignorance, economic exploitation and general disregard for the black ghetto in Los Angeles and across the nation amid a period of economic prosperity. Jacobs concludes that unless America addressed those issues, more revolutions against the government and society would continue.

    Was it a riot or was it a rebellion? Complexity may be a vice, however the semiotics of the telling and retelling of the event are varied and revealing.

    The use of the the term “riot” connotes a lawless and chaotic disruption of the status quo, a plague set loose upon the innocent and civilized. Before 1965, ironically, race riots in America were the practice of white terrorists who attacked black communities. As the nation’s media cast its gaze upon Watts, multiple meanings were relayed and accepted. For segregationists, it was proof that integration was dangerous and containment of the black population was necessary; for the general viewing public, it was proof of distinct cultural differences. While some of the media sensationalism may have produced a short-lived form of sympathy, it did not create a form of empathy which would have demanded a historical recitation of inequities of race and class stemming from Jim Crow.

    The use of the term “rebellion” connotes a concentrated effort by individuals within a group to strategically attack what they believe are either concrete or symbolic examples of exploitation and violence within their community. Fed up and tired of waiting for progress to arrive, black youth exploded and could not be contained by traditional leadership in the community. Black revolutionaries involved in the Watts rebellions found empowerment and international attention through violence and looting, a warning to a result of a nation riddled with inequity and too slow or simply unwilling to engage.

    Whether the event was perceived as a riot or a rebellion depended on one’s place amid a deeply divided American society. The effects of separate but always unequal was largely ignored by most white Americans out of a habit of denial that continues to this day amid this supposed post-racial era. Mass incarceration of the poor and the militarization of law enforcement occlude the structural inequalities that remain from 50 years ago. But infected with historical amnesia, the next urban unrest will appear unexpectedly, cleaved from the past, though explanations of the event will have to be 140 characters or less.

     

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  • THE HAHN LEGACY CONTINUES

    50 Years After the Watts Rebellion

    By Danny Simon, RLn Contributor
     
    Few family names in Los Angeles politics evoke a tradition of public service like Hahn. Kenneth’s older brother, Gordon, represented the 66th District of the California State Assembly from 1947 to 1953, after which he filled Kenneth Hahn’s vacant seat on the city council until 1963. Kenneth was a Democrat, while Gordon was a Republican, but the politics of both brothers, and the family in general, echo the idealism of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, though plainly infused with more plebeian sensibilities.

    Kenneth’s lasting popularity can be explained by his diligent awareness of the wants and needs of his community and his diligent attempts to bring them to fruition.

    The national Civil Rights Movement inspired a generation of black politicos to fight social and political inequality, and many cut their teeth on John F. Kennedy’s California campaign for the presidency in 1959. Hahn worked both openly and behind the scenes to help empower black politicians and to help their constituents achieve racial representation on the Los Angeles City Council. On Kenneth’s advice, Gordon stepped aside to make way for Billy G. Mills. He served, along with Tom Bradley and Gilbert Lindsay, as part of a movement of black political leadership that arose to challenge the white domination of Los Angeles politics in the early 1960s.

    President Lyndon B. Johnson fought a “War on Poverty” for a “Great Society” and the Civil Right’s Movement marched on, but for many black youth of South Los Angeles, progress was too slow and hard to see. Violence broke out on Aug. 11, 1965, after a crowd witnessed what had seemingly become routine police brutality via the humiliation of members of the black community. The National Guard poured into the area, followed by state and federal funds. California Gov. Pat Brown (Gov. Jerry Brown’s father) swiftly assembled an investigatory committee headed by John A. McCone, a wealthy California scion and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Among the committee’s varied findings was the need for a full-service hospital for the people of South Los Angeles, though that idea originated with local black physicians like Dr. Wells Ford and Dr. Sol White Jr. In tight collaboration with black political leaders like Mervyn Dymally, Hahn began a long process which eventually led to the creation of the Martin Luther King Jr. General Hospital and the Charles R. Drew School of Medicine and Science (King/Drew) in Willowbrook. Shuttered mid-scandal in 2007, King Hospital reopened in 2015.

    A generation later, Kenneth Hahn’s children, James and Janice, have enjoyed remarkable ascensions of their own. James Hahn served as city controller and city attorney before serving as mayor of Los Angeles from 2001 to 2005. He now presides as a judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench in Santa Monica. Janice Hahn represented the 15th District of the Los Angeles City Council from 2001 to 2011, after which she’s represented the 36th and 44th districts in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Rep. Janice Hahn took a break from her busy schedule in Washington D.C. to speak about the politics of her father, her experience in the House and her campaign for the 4th District of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

     

    Danny Simon:How do you account for your father’s progressive politics?

    Janice Hahn: My dad was born into a family with a single mom who raised seven boys in poverty in South Los Angeles. He lived and died no more than two miles from where he was born. He grew up in poverty and I think he never lost touch with that. I know that the first suit he ever owned was when he joined the Navy, and I think the first steak he ever ate was in the Navy. I think he never lost touch with his roots and his poverty, and he had a keen way of relating to the people he represented. He was one of them and I think they knew that, so I think his politics were about how he would’ve liked to have seen politicians in the ’30s and ’40s make policies that would’ve helped his family.

     

    DS:Do you think that came out of a sense of FDR Progressivism that was bipartisan?

    JH: Yes, I think that in those days there was a sense that government did have a role to play in people’s lives, both positive and helpful in terms of reaching out to the poor and trying to make more opportunities available. We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Social Security. Two great programs that have kept many people out of poverty.

     

    DS:So there’s a bit of a paradox in that after Johnson got past all the Great Society legislation, then comes the violence of August 1965. Do you think your dad understood the anger in the black community? Could he empathize or was he offended by it?

    JH: As I recall it—I was 13 at the time—I remember the Watts Riots very well. I think his first reaction was a bit of disbelief, a little bit of sadness that then quickly turned to resolve. My father was very interested in helping to rebuild the community. He was very interested in seeing what the McCone Commission recommendations were and what he could do to implement some of them. Of course, one recommendation was that the black community needed a full-service hospital, and one of my dad’s greatest legacies was [that] they built a hospital in Watts.

    DS:How do you think he’d respond to King Hospital reopening in such a scaled-back manner?

    JH: I think that if he’d been still alive, we’d never have lost the first hospital. He took such a keen interest in that hospital. I remember so many times that we would drop by the hospital and he would go in unannounced, he would walk the halls and talk to doctors, talk to patients. I think he had a much better sense of what was going on in that hospital and I’m not sure that he would’ve allowed it to meet its demise like it did. He would be happy that there is some sort of healthcare available to that community. But like me, I’m sure he would not have been fully satisfied until there was a level-one trauma center again. It had a first-rate trauma center and I think people probably lost their lives because that trauma center was closed.

     

    DS:How do you explain your dad’s lasting popularity amid a massive demographic shift?

    JH: I think Kenny Hahn is synonymous with public service and with faithfully representing his constituents. He set an incredibly high bar for all politicians, like, if you take care of little things, the big things will take care of themselves. He was famous for filling potholes, for building swimming pools, for putting in stop signs, for knowing the pastor of every church. I was sitting on a plane next to a woman who said, “We always felt like your father had our backs.” His constituents knew that Kenny Hahn had their back and that no matter what happened, he’d be on their side because he was always on the side of the people. Not many politicians have that reputation. I think there’s still a sense that people have to fight city hall to get their concerns addressed. I don’t think he ever gave the impression that people had to fight county government to get something. He worked day and night to bend county government to work for the people. And that has really lasted and they remember his legacy for having built a hospital and assembling a paramedics program, to put call boxes on the freeway, to bring the Dodgers to LA. He was one of those people’s politicians that would see a problem and figure out how to solve it and people appreciate that.

     

    DS:What have you learned both politically and personally while serving in the House of Representatives?

    JH: I think what I’ve learned is that even if you have a passion or idealism to accomplish things or change the world, in Washington D.C. it’s very difficult…There’s almost zero cooperation between both parties. The deck is stacked against whomever is in the minority, the committees are stacked against them, the rules are stacked against them. Its very difficult no matter how hard you try to form a relationship to work across the aisle. It just doesn’t bode well for a divided government. There’s no real incentive for the party in the majority to work with the party in the minority. A few times when the Tea Party revolted against the speaker, the Democrats have come into play because Speaker [John] Boehner needed our votes to pass something, and then we were able to force some compromises and get some of our ideas onto a bill. I’ve learned that I’m not politically wired for partisan politics; I enjoy and I’m more suited to nonpartisan politics; I enjoy building consensus; I enjoy bringing different people to the table; I enjoy identifying a problem and identifying a solution; I enjoy that kind of politics and I think my skills are better suited for local politics. I learned that it’s a team sport back in Washington D.C., us versus them, and both sides try to move the football down the field and try to score some points. It’s not something I’ve found enjoyable. I’m not as well-suited for partisan politics as I thought I was.

     

    DS:But you have cultivated some relationships across the aisles?

    JH: One of my biggest accomplishments in Congress was my bipartisan port caucus; that was the first time in the history of the United States Congress that anyone decided to gather people together around the subject of our nation’s ports. I started it; I co-chaired it and it had about 100 members of Congress whom I educated about why ports matter in this country. Because of those relationships, I’ve brought some of them to LA and Long Beach to look at our ports, and I’ve traveled with them to look at their ports, and as a result, I believe for the first time we’re able to bring more money back to our ports than ever before. When I look back, that will be my greatest accomplishment [in Congress] and that was done in a bipartisan way.

     

    DS:How will you campaign for the 4th District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (currently served by Don Knabe)?

    JH: This race is neighborhood by neighborhood, community by community, almost block by block. It’s about really understanding the needs of the different communities and seeing how county government can step in and play a role to solve problems. Or, I’m sure there are many communities that won’t want county government to play any role. That’s what I’m good at, because of my father, who was good at listening and talking to people about where they’re at and seeing their frustrations, or maybe, their disappointment with county government, and seeing if there’s something I can do to fix it…. If elected, I will be the third female on the county board, making it a female majority, the first time in its history. I kind of joke, “this is not my dad’s board of five men that ruled the county for a very long time.”

     

    DS: Your dad’s board could be extremely divisive over issues like the creation of King Hospital. How do you feel things have changed?

    JH: My dad was many times on the end of a losing vote, 4-1. He finally went to the voters to build that hospital (Hahn lost that vote by a razor- sharp margin of .3 percent, but eventually forged a compromise with Mayor Sam Yorty). I feel that this is a board on which we will find many opportunities to build consensus. I know Mark Ridley-Thomas very well. I know Hilda Solis, who was also a member of Congress and who served as secretary of labor under President [Barack] Obama. I know Sheila Kuehl, I talk to her a lot; Sheila and Hilda have endorsed me. I feel like this is a board that will be very workable, and I’m proud of the work they’re doing right now with their progressive agenda.

     

    DS: Do you have any projects you’d like to see accomplished in the next decade by the Board of Supervisors?

    JH: I get asked that question a lot, and at this time, I don’t know. I’m sure when my dad first took office in 1952, he never dreamed he would be building a hospital or bringing the Dodgers to Los Angeles or putting call boxes on the freeway or starting the paramedics program. Those probably weren’t visions or dreams of his, and by the way, they probably happened like during year 15 or 20 of his tenure on the board. Now, of course, we have term limits and there are only 12 years that you’re allowed to serve. I think I’ll take it one step at a time and look for opportunities to serve the residents of the 4th District in a way that would make my dad proud.

     

    DS:Why do you want this job?

    JH: I grew up in the home of a county supervisor. I was a baby when my dad was elected, so I watched the way that my dad did the job for 40 years. I watched him solve problems for constituents, from filling the potholes to building the hospital…. It was certainly imprinted on my soul and my heart and my brain that this was a noble profession and a good opportunity for me to serve my Los Angeles County. I was born and raised in Los Angeles County; it’s my home and I know that I can deliver results for the 4th District. I look forward to that job, I look forward to that work. I think everything I’ve done so far has prepared me and led me to this moment in time and I’m gonna embrace it.

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  • John Farrell:

    A Celebration of Life

    San Pedro native and long-time Los Angeles area arts critic John Farrell will be honored, at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 15, with “John Farrell: A Celebration of Life” at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 31290 Palos Verdes Drive, West, Ranch Palos Verdes.

    In addition to Random Lengths News, the San Pedro High and Long Beach State graduate’s work appeared in the Press-Telegram, the Daily Breeze and the Pasadena Star-News. He covered opera, classical music and stage productions throughout Los Angeles County from the early 1980s until his death in May.

    Details: (415) 902-6376, (510)566-3575

     

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  • Old Friends, Together Again

    The New Blues Festival II

    Labor Day Weekend Blues Bash, a Proper End to Summer

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist and Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Bring the lawn chairs and the ice chests. Come Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5 and 6) the New Blues Festival II is going down at El Dorado Park.

    The festival has two stages, two days, and dozens of blues bands, including fan favorites Bernie Pearl, Sean Lane, Barbara Morrison, teen blues phenom Ray Goren, and Sherry Pruitt and the Delgado Brothers.

    Over the years, Random Lengths has spent a considerable amount of ink covering Pearl, Lane and Morrison. We will likely cover Goren in the near future. However, we were eager for an artist we haven’t covered who is deserving of a bit of the spotlight.

    Pruitt, a Beaumont Texas transplant to Long Beach, calls herself the Soulful Songstress. Her range includes gospel and rhythm and blues, she has performed all around the world, having been a singer and performer all her life.

    The Delgado Brothers are a versatile band whose roots go back more than 50 years, starting in the Maravilla public housing in East Los Angeles. There are 11 brothers, straddling two generations.

    Their range includes the blues (an original Texas-style blues they call the Stevie Ray Vaughan style), R&B, Latin, roots, rock and Americana music. And they play only original music. No covers.

    The versatility in their music could probably be credited to the gap in age between the older and younger brothers in the group. But they’re so good, it really doesn’t matter what they play. This band has the capacity to sonically take you places you either haven’t been in a while, or where you have never been at all.

    We were able to reach Pruitt and Joey Delgado recently and talk to them about their set at the New Blues Festival and how they joined forces.

    Pruitt and the Delgado Brothers have played together periodically since 2006. Pruitt and Joey were introduced at a housewarming party hosted by their mutual friend, Bobby Zeno, KPFK radio’s “Blues Power” disc jockey.

    As Delgado tells it, Zeno hired Pruitt and her backup band to perform at his housewarming party. Joey and his wife were among Zeno’s invited guests.

    “When Sherry sang; it was unbelievable,” Delgado recalled of the evening. “She [Pruitt] saw that I was digging her, so she came to our table to sing for my wife and me. She literally brought us to tears. Her singing is just incredible.”

    Delgado immediately asked her to perform at his housewarming party. Pruitt consented, for a fee of only $75.

    “God bless her,” Delgado said, praising her humility. “Anyway, we agreed on a higher rate. She came to the party, performed and people just lost their minds. We ended up raising $500 or $600 more than I agreed to pay her by just passing the hat around.”

    Soon after that, the Delgado Brothers were working on an album and Joey Delgado invited her to be the featured vocalist on it. Pruitt and the Delgado Brothers periodically teamed up for festivals, concerts and blues competitions following the release of their first collaboration.

    The most recent competition in which Pruitt and the brothers participated together was the 2011 Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn. They placed second.

    Check out the YouTube videos of their performances. The chemistry between Pruitt and the Brothers is as obvious as that of peanut butter and jelly.

    At the New Blues Festival, Pruitt and the Delgado Brothers are going to perform a mix of the latest material from their discography, ranging from some of their oldest to newest music. Both have released new CDs within the past couple of years.

    “Whenever we’ve done festivals or other events and we need to spice it up, we’ll hire Sherry to come in, and you know, raise the roof,” Joey said.

    Pruitt is excited about the outdoor festival.

    “That’s my favorite,” she said. “I like being outdoors in the open and seeing people have a good time. The club scene is different but the outdoors is magical to me. I’m looking forward to playing the New Blues Festival. It will be exciting to play together with the Delgado Brothers again.”

    Pruitt and the Brothers are scheduled to perform on the main stage on the last day of the festival, Sept. 6. But they are by no means the only ones to look out for on that day, or the next.

    By our estimation, the inclusion of James Harman on the main stage is a coup for festival goers. Harman’s down home vocals and harmonica playing is both nostalgic and groove-inspiring–”groove inspiring” because his music has the capacity to move your body and soul like a snake to a charmer’s flute.

    Harman has played with and been among the best for 50 years. He’s been performing since the ‘60s, and experienced his greatest success after recording several albums in the 1980s and ‘90s.

    A number of Harman’s songs have been used in films and on television, including “Kiss of Fire,” which was on the soundtrack of the movie The Accused. Harman was also a frequent guest artist at the Long Beach Blues Festival.

    Also on the bill is Dave Widow, an artist that a festival can never go wrong. The Random Lengths News columnist, B. Noel Barr called Widow’s critically acclaimed album, Waiting for the World to End “an outstanding collection of blues songs, demonstrating first-rate production and musicianship.”

    You don’t want miss his performance Sept. 5.

    The Second, But Golden, Stage

    Though the Golden Grove is not the main stage, it will feature Lil’ A and the Allnighters; Kelly Chappue and the Soul Collectors; the Other Mules’ Shadow Blue Featuring Lady Faye; Tracy Niles; Crooked-Eye Tommy, and the Seatbelt, who Random Lengths has profiled a few times over the years.

    But one artist to watch on the Golden Grove Stage is South River Slim. This guy is not your typical artist that says he’s a blues and rock n’ roll guy but sounds like every other blues and rock n’ roll guy.

    We couldn’t find a single YouTube video of him performing. But we did get to hear two of his singles, “Heavy Like Liquorice” and “Square of the Dead.” The songwriting and performances of these songs immediately grabbed my attention because they sounded fresh and new, and familiar, at the same time.

    The lyrics of “Square of the Dead” reminded me of the sort you’d hear in early blues cuts from the likes of blues legend Robert Johnson and others.

    So, we tapped some keys into the Google search engine and found a feature story on Slim and his battle with cancer just as he was beginning to find his voice on Urbanitenews.com.

    The Yardbirds, Rolling Stones and The Doors were South River Slim’s gateway to the blues. By the time he was 12, Slim had “immersed himself in the deep blues, devouring old masters like Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson,” according to the online feature.

    It chronicled his early years trekking and jamming with his friends on Route 66, playing covers of the above-mentioned artists, as well as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Elvis Presley, along the way.

    Family tragedy seemed to ultimately halt his youthful adventures, forcing him to put aside his music and get a day job—only occasionally writing something and playing guitar in his basement.

    Just when he had decided to pursue his music again, Slim was diagnosed with throat cancer. Ultimately, music, and his desire to live, are what saved his life. South River Slim is going to be performing on Saturday on the Golden Grove Stage.

    Time: 9 a.m to dusk, Sept. 5 and 6
    Cost: General admission $25 for one day; $40 for two days
    Details: www.newbluesfestival.com
    Venue: El Dorado Park, 7550 E. Spring St., Long Beach

     

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  • LA County Jail System to Implement Reforms

    LOS ANGELES — On Aug. 5, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Kappelhoff announced that the Justice Department reached a comprehensive settlement with the County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Sheriff to protect prisoners from serious suicide risks and excessive force in the Los Angeles County jails.

    The agreement was filed along with a complaint that alleges a pattern or practice of inadequate mental health care and excessive force at the jails in violation of prisoners’ federal constitutional rights. The Justice Department, together with the county and the sheriff, has requested that the district court enter the settlement as an order to bring court oversight to the reforms, to ensure that the reforms are implemented fully and transparently, and to strengthen public confidence in the jails.

    The settlement resolves claims stemming from the Justice Department’s long-standing civil investigation into mental health care at the jails, which found a pattern of constitutionally deficient mental health care for prisoners, including inadequate suicide prevention practices. In addition, the settlement agreement includes remedial measures to address a separate civil investigation into use of force by jails staff.

    The Justice Department’s investigations involved an in-depth review of thousands of pages of documents and other records, on-site visits and interviews with numerous jails staff members, prisoners and others. The Justice Department was assisted by subject matter experts in the fields of mental health care, suicide prevention and correctional practices.

    The county and the sheriff cooperated with the civil investigations and have begun to implement many of the negotiated reforms in the settlement agreement, which was negotiated by attorneys with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

    “The settlement agreement avoids protracted litigation and provides a blue print for durable reform that will foster continued collaboration among sheriff deputies, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders,” Decker said.

    Under the settlement the county and the sheriff have agreed to implement comprehensive reforms to ensure constitutional conditions in the jails and restore public trust. The settlement agreement will be court-enforceable once approved by the district court and will be overseen by an independent monitor and a team of mental health and corrections experts. The settlement agreement is designed to prevent and respond more effectively to suicides and self-inflicted injuries through measures that include:

    •       additional steps to recognize, assess and treat prisoners with mental illness, from intake to discharge;
    •       significant new training on crisis intervention and interacting with prisoners with mental illness for new and existing custody staff;
    •       improved documentation in prisoners’ medical and mental health records to ensure continuity of care;
    •       improved communication between custody and mental health staff and increased supervision of mentally ill and suicidal prisoners;
    •       steps to mitigate suicide risks within the jails;
    •       increased access to out-of-cell time for mentally ill prisoners; and
    •       improved investigation and critical self-analysis of suicides, suicide attempts and other critical events.

    With respect to use of force, the settlement agreement expands critical reforms agreed to by the county and the sheriff in Rosas v. McDonnell to cover all facilities within the jail system. These reforms include:

    •       enhanced leadership and executive staff engagement;
    •       significant revisions to use-of-force policies, which should significantly reduce the use of excessive force, with added protections for use of force against prisoners with mental illness;
    •       enhanced training for custody and mental health staff;
    •       enhanced data collection and analysis;
    •       enhanced accountability measures, including use-of-force reporting, use-of-force reviews and discipline; and
    •       enhanced grievance procedures.

    The Justice Department’s investigation was originally opened in 1996, under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The Justice Department found constitutional deficiencies in mental health care, suicide prevention and the use of excessive force against prisoners with mental illness. In 2002, the Justice Department entered into a memorandum of agreement with the County and the Sheriff to address these concerns. Despite considerable progress over the years of monitoring the memorandum of agreement, the Justice Department concluded in 2014 that the jails were failing to provide adequate mental health care, including suicide prevention, and that conditions under which prisoners with mental illness were housed exacerbated the risk of suicide.

    In addition, in 2013, the Justice Department initiated a separate civil investigation into allegations of use of excessive force by jails staff under both the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. While the use-of-force investigation was ongoing, the County and the Sheriff settled the Rosas v. McDonnell class-action lawsuit, which alleged excessive force by jails deputies in three downtown facilities.  The settlement agreement incorporates all of the reforms in Rosas and extends them to all county jail facilities to cover prisoners throughout the jails system.

    The civil investigations were conducted by attorneys and staff from the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section.

    “I am pleased that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the County, and the United States Department of Justice have entered into a joint agreement that will provide our jail system with the opportunity to move beyond past problems and build on the progress that has already been made in enhancing the treatment of those in our custody,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a released statement. “I personally commit to the DOJ, our employees and our community that we will rise to meet these and future challenges.  While there undoubtedly will be setbacks, we will aim to do better every day and learn from, and be open about, our mistakes with the goal of continuous improvement.”

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  • Crash, accident, collision

    Collision on Gerald Desmond Bridge Yields Death: RL NEWS Aug. 4, 2015

    Collision on Gerald Desmond Bridge Yields Death

    LONG BEACH — Three vehicles collided because driver was moving against traffic, at about 7 a.m. Aug. 1, eastbound on the Gerald Desmond Bridge.

    Earlier that the morning, officers observed a vehicle driving erratically and crashing through barricades in the area of Special Olympic events. Officers attempted to follow the vehicle through the downtown Long Beach Bicycle Path after it struck numerous objects, but lost sight of the vehicle.

    Witnesses directed officers toward the Gerald Desmond Bridge regarding a multi-vehicle traffic collision. Upon arrival, officers found two vehicles on fire and immediately attempted to rescue the drivers. Despite life-saving efforts by several officers, one driver succumbed to his injuries and was determined dead at the scene. An officer sustained minor injuries to his arm during his attempt to pull the driver. The officer was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

    Long Beach Fire Department personnel provided rescue and fire suppression services, as well as medical aid at the scene. Fire personnel transported the two remaining drivers in critical condition to local hospitals.
    The preliminary investigation revealed that a 2012 Mercedes Benz being driven by Alvin Ray Shaw, a 28-year-old resident of Hawthorne, entered the eastbound lanes of Ocean Boulevard at Golden Shore traveling westbound towards the Gerald Desmond Bridge against eastbound traffic.

    At the crest point of the Gerald Desmond Bridge, the Mercedes, still traveling westbound against eastbound traffic, collided with a 2014 Ford Fusion, driven by a 21-year-old resident of San Pedro, and a 2010 Nissan Pickup Truck. Both the Ford and Nissan vehicles were traveling eastbound in the eastbound lanes of the Gerald Desmond Bridge. The resulting collision caused the Mercedes Benz and the Nissan truck to catch fire. The Mercedes appears to be the same vehicle that was seen driving erratically and through barricades earlier.

    The deceased male driver of the 2010 Nissan truck is not being identified at this time. The Los Angeles County Coroner will make positive identification and notify next of kin.

    It is unknown, at this time, if alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in the collision.

    Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call (562) 570-7355 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Arrest Made in Connection with June Murder

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 1, Long Beach Police arrested 26-year-old Jorge Luis Cruz, of Long Beach, in connection with a murder that took place earlier June 22.

    The murder happened about 8:45 a.m. near the 800 block of Cedar Avenue in Long Beach. Long Beach Police Department officers responded to the call regarding shooting. The shooting resulted in the death of 37-year-old Douglas Wilson of Long Beach.

    At about 5:50 p.m. Aug. 1, officers initiated an investigation involving a vehicle in the 1300 block of Ohio Avenue. A passenger, who officers recognized as a subject wanted in connection with the June homicide, fled from the vehicle. Officers established a containment perimeter to find the subject with the assistance of air support and K9 services. Around 8:15 p.m., Cruz was taken into custody.

    On Aug. 3, Cruz appeared in Long Beach Superior Court; however, his arraignment in connection with the murder of Douglas Wilson was postponed until August 18, 2015. He is being held in Los Angeles County Jail on $2 million bail.
    The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information regarding the murder is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.
     

    Woman Who Has Fed Homeless for 12 Years is Honored

    District 6 Councilman Dee Andrews will honor Alice Robinson and friends for their service of feeding the hungry at the 12th anniversary of the Feeding in the Park, at 12 p.m. Aug. 5, 2015, at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Long Beach.

    Friends of Alice Robinson is celebrating another anniversary for the Feeding in the Park program. For the past 12 years, Robinson has prepared and served more than 11,000 hot, home-cooked, full course meals to eager smiling faces at the park. Out of her own senior income and generous donors, she and her friends have prepared the meals on a monthly basis.

    Robinson is 77 years old and has been married to her husband, Bennie, for 56 years. She is originally from Tuscaloosa, Ala. However, she has lived in the 6th District of Long Beach since 1957.  Since her retirement in 1998 from Mary Kay Contributions, she started volunteering her time to improve the Long Beach Community. Robinson has two daughters, Rosie Cade and Vanessa Conner, who volunteer to help their mother feed the hungry as well.

    The “Friends” includes a number of retired seniors and community volunteers that assist Robinson in serving the hot meals each month. The number one request for food is spaghetti. They also serve meatloaf, beef stew, and corn. Menus have included such things as fried chicken, bar-b-cued chicken, ribs, corn bread, sausage, beans, rice, greens, salads, cakes, biscuits and gravy.

    For those in need of a hot meal, Friends of Alice Robinson serves a free meal every first Wednesday of the month at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.
    Details: (562) 570-6816

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  • Garcetti Nominates General Manager of Information Technology Agency: RL NEWS Brief July 31, 2015

    Garcetti Nominates General Manager of Information Technology Agency

    LOS ANGELES — On July 30, Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated Interim General Manager Ted Ross to serve as the general manager of the Information Technology Agency and chief information officer for the City of Los Angeles. In this role, Ross will direct the city’s more than 460-person technology agency to harness the power of technology in order to achieve Garcetti’s goals of innovation, transparency, and efficiency across all aspects of city government.
    Ross, a native of Los Angeles, has worked for the City since 2004, most recently serving as assistant general manager for Information Technology Agency and in information technology leadership roles under City Controllers Laura Chick and Wendy Greuel and at the Los Angeles World Airports. Ross has had key roles in replacing the city’s Financial Management System, instituting the Mayor’s Open Data Portal, and has been a major contributor to the city’s recent technology awards, including:

    • First Place Digital City (Government Technology Magazine)
    • First Place Open Data City (Code for America & Sunlight Foundation)
    • Second Place Best of the Web (Government Technology Magazine)
    • StateScoop 50 Project Winner (Drupal Project for LACity.org and other city websites)

    The Information Technology Agency provides citywide systems, voice and data communications, a 24/7 data center, and the city’s public safety infrastructure, including police and fire radio communication systems on vehicles and helicopters.  This includes www.lacity.org, a new global navigation bar across all city websites, and the recently Emmy-nominated Channel 35 TV station.  The Information Technology Agency is a key player in the Mayor’s initiatives on cyber security, sustainability, open data, cloud computing, and developing an effective mobile workforce.
    Today, the Information Technology Agency is leading efforts to improve broadband internet across Los Angeles through the CityLinkLA initiative.
    Ross’s nomination is subject to confirmation by the Los Angeles City Council.

    Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Beating Republican Candidates

    A just released CNN poll found that Bernie Sanders out-polled all of the GOP’s major candidates, though he pretty much tied with Jeb Bush. Here’s how Sanders stacks up:
    Sanders: 48%
    Bush: 47%
    Sanders: 48%
    Walker: 42%
    Sanders: 59%
    Trump: 38%
    Polling shows he’s the only candidate from either side who has a net favorability rating.
    Donald Trump has 18 percent to Jeb Bush’s 15 percent. In the state polling, Trump is the leader in New Hampshire in the Marist poll, at 21 percent with Jeb Bush at only 14 percent. In Iowa, Trump is at 17 percent and Scott Walker is at 19 percent.

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  • LB Harbor Commission President Named: RL NEWS Briefs: July 30, 2015

    LB Harbor Commission President Named

    LONG BEACH — On July 27, The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners elected Lori Ann Farrell Harrison as its new board president.

    The five-member Harbor Commission, which oversees the Port of Long Beach, also selected Lou Anne Bynum as vice president and Tracy Egoscue as secretary. The commission selects from its own members the president and the other board officers for one-year terms each July.

    Farrell Harrison, a 5th District resident, is the director of finance for the City of Huntington Beach and was previously chief financial officer for Long Beach. She was appointed to the Harbor Commission in 2013 by then-Mayor Bob Foster. The commission president chairs board meetings and represents the port to the public.

    Farrell Harrison and Bynum succeed Doug Drummond and Rich Dines as president and vice president, respectively.

    Under the city charter, the mayor of Long Beach appoints city residents to the Harbor Commission for a six-year term. Commissioners oversee the port and direct the CEO, who in turn manages the more than 500-person staff of the Long Beach Harbor Department in the development and promotion of the Port of Long Beach.

     

    Former Police Chief Dies

    LONG BEACH — On July 29, the Long Beach Police Department announced the death of former Long Beach Police Chief Jerome E. Lance on Saturday, July 25. Lance was 72 years old when he succumbed to his battle with cancer.
    Lance began his career with the Long Beach Police Department in 1964. During his career, he worked various assignments throughout the Department at all ranks before being promoted to the position of chief of police on November 20, 1999.
    During his tenure as chief of police, he was faced with several challenges of a magnitude including, the aftermath of 9/11 and the loss of four officers.

    He was responsible for multiple facility projects which included the refurbishment of the public safety building, the construction of a new communications center, the relocation of the crime lab and property section, and the upgrading of the police academy.

    Additional accomplishments included increased security duties at the airport and harbor, the purchase of two new helicopters, and implementation of the first boat patrol unit in the history of the Long Beach Police Department.
    After Lance’s retirement from the LBPD in 2002, he served as interim chief of police for the Oceanside Police Department from March through December of 2005. He was head of the CSULB Center for Criminal Justice in 2003 and continued to teach and consult in the law enforcement community until 2014.
    Lance is survived by his wife Margaret “Bunny” Lance, his sister Patricia “Pat” Chapman (Oberg), his daughter Pamela Jane Crandall (Lance), her husband Brett and children Mackenzie and Brayden, and his son LBPD Sergeant Darren Jerome Lance, his wife Nancy and their daughter Sierra, along with many nieces and nephews.
    A memorial service will take place for Lance at 1 p.m. Aug. 9, at the Long Beach Police Officers Association Park. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in his honor to either of the following:
    Long Beach Police Officers Widows and Orphans Trust Fund c/o
    L.B.P.O.A
    2865 Temple Avenue
    Long Beach, California 90755
    http://lbpoa.org/about/widows-orphans/

    Law Enforcement Cancer Support Foundation
    6475 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 354
    Long Beach, CA 90803
    http://lecsf.net

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  • Morad Family Sues LBPD: RL NEWS Briefs July 29, 2015

    Morad Family Sues LBPD
    LONG BEACH — On July 22, supporters joined Morad family members at a press conference in front of the Long Beach Police Department.

    The family announced that they are filing a $28 million dollar lawsuit  against the City of Long Beach for the death of 20-year-old Feras Morad. On May 27, Offficer Matthew Hernandez killed Morad. Morad, who was displaying erratic behavior after apparently consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms, was unarmed.

    Morad’s family filed $28 million civil rights lawsuit against the LBPD. Mother Amal Morad, father Amr Morad, sister Ghada Morad and cousin Kareem Morad spoke at the press conference.

    “My son needed care,” said Amr Morad, Feras’s father. “Instead, he got killed…. I only hope that there is a change so that the next young man gets the help he needs.”

    A native of Woodland Hills, Feras Morad attended El Camino Real Charter High School, then Moorpark College, choosing a longer commute in order to join that school’s accomplished debate team. A high school and college debate champion, he ranked nationally in both the Phi Rho Pi National Forensic Organization and the National Speech and Debate Championship Tournament, and competed in many other leagues. He was a ranking member of ROTC while at El Camino Real.

    Feras chose to enroll at Cal State-Long Beach in order to save money in hopes of attending law school.

     

    Man Kills Step-Daughter, Himself

    LONG BEACH — Long Beach Police Department detectives are investigating what they are considering a murder-suicide, which took place about 4:45 p.m. July 27.

    Sixty-four-year-old Keenan Wynn killed his 41-year-old step-daughter Tecia Robinson.

    Police responded to a residence in the 2200 block of Eucalyptus Avenue and learned that a woman was in her home with her husband, Wynn, and her daughter, Robinson. Wynn attempted to shoot her and Robinson. The woman fled the home and called police. Robinson remained in the home. It wasn’t clear whether or not she was shot at the time.
    Officers tried phone calling Wynn but he did not answer. Believing Robinson may have been shot and in need of immediate medical attention, officers entered the residence and delivered her to Long Beach Fire Department paramedics who were staged nearby. Robinson was shot in the torso and declared dead on at the scene.
    Wynn, who was within the residence, shot himself in the torso and was also determined deceased at the scene by paramedics. A motive for the shooting is unclear and the investigation remains ongoing.
    Anyone with information regarding the incident should call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

     

    Garcia Selects Long Beach City Clerk

    LONG BEACH — On July 28, Mayor Robert Garcia announced that the City Council has selected Maria de la Luz Garcia to serve as the city clerk for Long Beach, pending a formal vote at its Aug. 11 meeting.

    The appointment of de la Luz Garcia (no relation to the mayor), who is senior project coordinator in the Elections Division of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office, was selected from a pool of more than 30 candidates after extensive interviews.

    De la Luz Garcia replaces Larry Herrera-Cabrera, who retired April 30 after 12 years as Long Beach city clerk.
    De la Luz Garcia is a Long Beach resident.

    Charged with keeping records, including minutes and actions of the council and all boards, commissions and committees, the clerk is also responsible for overseeing elections, posting ordinances and is custodian of the city seal. The clerk can also perform civil marriages and register voters.

    De la Luz Garcia, who will supervise a staff of 15, was also previously director of voter engagement for the NALEO Educational Fund. She is a dean’s merit scholar and master in public administration candidate at the Price School of Public Policy at USC. In 2008, de la Luz Garcia won an Emmy as an associate producer for an elections public service announcement. She is fluent in English and Spanish, and serves on the board of CORO Southern California, a public affairs leadership development organization.

    City Clerk de la Luz Garcia is scheduled to start Aug. 31.

     

    LA City Council Approves High Capacity Gun Magazine Ban

    LOS ANGELES — On July 28, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a ban on high capacity gun magazines.

    The ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to have gun magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. State law allow bans the sale manufacturing and importing of such magazines, but that didn’t include possession.

    The council will have to do a second vote on an amendment exempting retired police officers who have concealed weapons permits.

    “Everyday 89 Americans are killed by guns,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “As national and state leaders struggle with a way to move forward with much needed gun laws, I applaud our City leaders for taking decisive action today that will help us save lives and prevent crime. I wholeheartedly support a ban on the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines and am eager to sign it into law.”

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  • Get Organized: ANNOUNCEMENTS July 28, 2015

    July 29
    Get Organized
    The San Pedro Convention and Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce the launch of its Breakfast Seminar Series to help you start your day informed. The first program will be presented on organizing your desk, calendar, and office by Darryl Ashley of Confusion Solution.
    The Confusion Solution owner and professional organizer, has made it a goal to use the years of experience working in space planning and organizational management to help others live uncluttered and peaceful lives.
    Time: 8:30 a.m. July 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 729-9828, http://www.confusionsolution.com
    Venue: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 2800 Villa Cabrillo, San Pedro
     
    July 30
    Pitch Lab
    Everyone is welcome to Pitch Lab.
    This month’s event will feature expert and industry feedback from the following panelists:
    Bryan Sastokas
    Innovation & Technology Department Director, City of Long Beach
    Lisa Mae Brunson
    Wonder Women Tech
    Roger Howard
    Senior Developer, Consultant
    The following pitches are from:
    Luis Marquez | Replaylocker
    Scott Wayman | Kangarootime
    Deborah Casarez | Voca
    Time: 7 p.m. July 30
    Cost: $5
    Details: RSVP today, lincoln@welabs.us
    Venue: WE Labs, 235 E. Broadway, # 800, Long Beach
     
    July 30
    Regional Transit Feasibility Study
    Long Beach Transit is conducting a study on the feasibility of a Regional Transit Center that would be located on the eastern portion of transit’s service area and is holding community meetings to seek input and gain valuable feedback on location, amenities, design and more.
    Time: 6 p.m. July 30 and Aug. 27
    Details: (562) 599-8504; lbtregionaltransit.com
    Venue: El Dorado Library, 2900 N. Studebaker Road, Long Beach
     
    Aug. 1
    Map Your Neighborhood
    An emergency preparedness workshop, called Map Your Neighborhood, will:

    • Describe specific Harbor Area hazards such as the Palos Verdes
    • and San Andreas earthquake faults, tsunamis, hazmat, landslides, etc..
    • Teach the basics of personal and family preparedness.
    • Present the Map Your Neighborhood 9 Step Program.
    • Teach the community how to work together and be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours following a disaster.
    • Provide attendees with information and materials needed to organize a Map Your Neighborhood program in their neighborhood.

    Time: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Aug. 1
    Cost: Free
    Details:Attend Event
    Venue: Providence Little Co. of Mary Medical Center San Pedro, 1300 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    Aug. 1
    Schemes, Scams and Rip-offs
    Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell is hosting a fraud prevention town hall meeting.
    A panel of experts will provide tools and resources to avoid becoming a victim of fraud and identity theft.
    Time: 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 1
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach
     
    Aug. 3
    The Hot L Baltimore Auditions
    The Long Beach Playhouse is proud to announce open call auditions for a The Hot L Baltimore. The scene is the lobby of a rundown hotel so seedy that it has lost the “e” from it’s marquee.
    Audition requirements: bring headshot and resume. Cold read from script.
    Time: 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 3 and 4
    Details: (562) 494-1014
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse,  5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Aug. 4
    Navy Days LA 2015 Volunteer Opportunities
    There are many opportunities for volunteers during Navy Days LA 2015 coming up Aug. 4 through 9.
    Give sailors a big San Pedro welcome as they sail past Ports O’ Call Restaurant, the official welcoming point. Volunteers to help direct people to the welcoming areas and to help out at the Visitor Center are also needed.
    The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce is looking for volunteers for ANY part of this time:
    2 to 5 p.m. Aug. 4 at Ports O’ Call
    6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 4 at Visitor Center, Downtown Harbor and in downtown
    8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 5 at Cruise Terminal for STEM Expo and Youth Ship Tours
    6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 5 at Visitor Center, Downtown Harbor and in downtown
    8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 6 at Cruise Terminal for STEM Expo and Youth Ship Tours
    6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 6 at Visitor Center, Downtown Harbor and in downtown
    9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 7  at cruise terminal for public and VIP tours
    11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 7 at Downtown Harbor
    9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 8  at cruise terminal for public and VIP tours
    11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 8 at Downtown Harbor
    9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9  at cruise terminal for public and VIP tours
    11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 9 at Downtown Harbor
    Details: (310) 729-9828; www.SPCVB.com
     
    Aug. 14
    Northbound Alameda Street Closure
    All northbound lanes on Alameda Street from O Street – just north of Pacific Coast Highway – to Sepulveda Boulevard are closed to repair a damaged overhead bridge through Aug. 14. Take Pacific Coast Highway to State Route103, turn left onto Sepulveda Blvd and right onto Alameda Street. Southbound lanes will not be affected.

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