Larchmont Chronicle SPECIAL SECTION
Melrose Mac counters devastation with uplifting mural painting party By Caroline Tracy On May 30, Sandy Nasseri, founder and owner of Melrose Mac, like many citizens concerned in the wake of George Floyd’s death, followed television coverage of the protest marches originating at Pan Pacific Park. As a business owner, she never thought to board up her already highly secured storefront at Melrose and Highland. However, by 6:30 p.m. that May 30 evening, she grew concerned, as protesters had mobilized far to the east and north of Pan Pacific Park — at Melrose Ave. and Poinsettia Place, mere blocks from Melrose Mac. “We have 36 security cameras on property — which includes a retail storefront, corporate offices and a lab — and what we began to see was horrifying.”
MEMORIAL MURAL to the late George P. Floyd Jr. was painted on the side of Cup Foods in Minneapolis, which is where Floyd allegedly presented a counterfeit $20 bill and outside of which he was restrained and killed by Minneapolis police officers. The mural artists are Xena Goldman, Greta McLain and Cadex Herrera, with contributions from artists Maria Javier, Rachel Breen, Niko Alexander, and Pablo Helm Hernandez. The words “I can breathe now” were suggested by an African American community member, Anjel Carpenter, and were added to the mural by an anonymous community member. Photo courtesy of @munshots from unsplash.com
Minneapolis killing sparks nationwide protests
n Generally peaceful marches in Los Angeles were marred in demonstrations’ early days by bands of criminals
By Larchmont Chronicle Staff A video of the brutal killing of a 46-year-old Black man by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25 sparked nationwide peaceful protest that was accompanied in some places by violent crime from riotous mobs vandalizing and looting, especially on the weekend of May 30 and 31. In the subsequent days of June, hundreds of thousands of concerned people have continued to march in numerous peaceful protests across the nation in support of Black lives. Say his name George Perry Floyd Jr. was a tall man, 6 feet 6 inches, who had moved from Houston to work in Minneapolis and who FAMILIES help neighborhood was recovering from the corobusinesses clean up the day fol- navirus at the time he was lowing local criminal rampages.
They watched the first breach on a live security trasmission (she was with her sister and husband, Sean Nasseri, co-owner of Melrose Mac, and their children). “We watched four guys approach and throw a huge geode crystal they had looted from a store on Melrose right through the window. There were chainsaws to cut through security bars — these were professionals. Ultimately, we took a big hit to the sales office side of our building, where the looters lit a fire and where our lab and demo gear was based.” City unprepared Nasseri is vocal about her disappointment with the police and the City of Los Angeles in general during this time. “We were calling the police for (Please turn to page 8F)
killed. Knowingly or unknowingly, Floyd allegedly presented a counterfeit $20 bill at Cup Foods, a neighborhood market in Minneapolis, on Memorial Day, May 25. Police were called. Floyd was arrested and brutally restrained, including by a police officer who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck on the ground for more than eight minutes while Floyd said he could not breathe. George Floyd died. That officer and the three officers in attendance or assisting have been arrested and criminally charged with various degrees of murder and aiding and abetting murder. The ensuing protest demonstrations have focused on that crime against George Floyd and on many other reported instances of racism in
policing and racism elsewhere throughout the country and the world. Protestors say they are trying to bring attention to systemic racism they say is prevalent in society and social institutions beyond what is within police departments. Local organizers and leaders of the protest marches in Los Angeles have included Black Lives Matter - Los Angeles. On the May 30-31 weekend, sometimes in close proximity to the vast majority of peaceful protestors, mostly unaffiliated mobs of criminals rioted and took advantage of the situation to vandalize property, break into commercial buildings, burglarize the contents, set arson fires, and in some instances physically assault people
trying to defend the property or objecting to the vandalism. Curfews Following the combination of peaceful protests and violent criminality on May 30 and 31, curfews were enacted throughout Los Angeles County for various times, even starting in the afternoon (for example, 1 p.m. on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills). Also, and just as happened during the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King verdict, the California National Guard was mobilized, and its presence was very visible in shopping districts around the county, including on Larchmont Boulevard. At some protest marches that started peacefully and (Please turn to page 8F)
JUNE 2, 2020 at Getty House, the official residence of the Mayor of Los Angeles in Windsor Square, where hundreds of Black Lives Matter protestors peacefully demonstrated on the sidewalks and in the street.
Editorial By John Welborne
Black Lives Matter This special section has been added this month to provide a forum for sharing ideas and opinions on the important issues raised by Black Lives Matter discussions and demonstrations. That was not possible last month; the paper already was at the printer as events transpired. This month, we can include stories about immediate neighborhood reactions, including families helping merchants clean up after looting, and contemporary neighborhood associations commenting upon the protests. We include a bit of related local history, too: A reprint of the single Larchmont Chronicle story published the month following the April 1992 riots and looting in Los Angeles. The peaceful protests and violent crime of May 30-31, 2020 generated comment across the city from hundreds of prominent Angelenos, including local residents and businesspeople. Current neighborhood association leaders are interviewed in the story on Page 8C. The June 2 televised speech of Mayor and Windsor Square resident Eric Garcetti, accompanied by the remarks of his guest, 16-yearold high school student Davion Pilgrim, begin on Page 8G.
Mayor Eric Garcetti
Windsor Square residents and Hancock Park restaura-
JULY 2020 — SPECIAL SECTION
teurs Nancy Silverton and Michael Krikorian presented an Op-Ed piece in the “Los Angeles Times” on June 4.
Page 1 of last month’s issue, all beginning on this page. One longer letter has become a guest column by Larchmont neighbor Bethel S. Moges. It appears on Page 8D. Another guest column is by civil rights leader Connie Rice, on page 8G. The monthly column of Councilman David Ryu focuses on Black Lives Matter and related issues and appears on Page 8E.
Letters to the Editor The June issue of the Larchmont Chronicle already was at the printer over the May 30-31 weekend. We “stopped the presses” on Monday morning, June 1, and we shortened a front-page article to insert the short box that acknowledged the unfortunate results of the LOCAL looting and vandalism that so many neighbors presumably watched happen on Melrose, Beverly, Fairfax, La Brea, Third, Larchmont and elsewhere in our surrounding neighborhoods. There was neither time nor space nor perspective to address the large peaceful marches also taking place nearby and nationwide, and the reasons for them, in the issue that was distributed a few days later, on June 4. But we used the short box on the front page to make a record of the local physical impacts of May 30-31 and also to serve as an invitation for deliberative community comment to be sent to the newspaper. We heard back, and we are using our Letters to the Editor forum to share that feedback and to accompany our staff’s own reports on the news behind the May 30-31 protest demonstrations, other and subsequent demonstrations, and the related public policy issues confronting all people, both nearby and globally. – Ed.
Protests were not riots Nancy Silverton
Proprietor of The Grove, Rick Caruso, published a lengthy letter to the Los Angeles community in several newspapers in the middle of last month.
Hundreds of thousands of concerned (peaceful) people have marched all over this town (and across the country), seeking to highlight the problem of systemic racism that leads to crime, including the killing of George Floyd, and other unacceptable aspects of 21st-century North America (and the whole planet, frankly). Those who have stood up to be antiracist are to be commended. “Antiracist” — what does that mean? The National Museum of African American History and Culture, a part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., writes: “To create an equal society, we must commit to making unbiased choices and being antiracist in all aspects of our lives.”
Los Angeles chapter president of the National Urban League, and Fremont Place resident, Michael Lawson, spoke about racism, police brutality and criminal justice reform as part of a June 18 Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall video panel discussion. Within this special section, we include commentary from others, including four letters received in response to the Chronicle’s short, four-inch, “for the record” box added on
A helpful, detailed discussion about race is at the museum’s website: https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talkingabout-race/topics/being-antiracist
Fighting against racism is to be antiracist. Racism impacts Black Americans now, as it has impacted Black Americans for (Please turn to page 8F)
I am a Brookside neighborhood resident who normally enjoys your monthly paper over coffee. I was shocked and dismayed by the language in the bold box on the front page of your June newspaper. Referring to “nearby riots” and “mobs” was jarring enough. Neglecting to mention the peaceful protests that have made their way through the neighborhoods your paper serves over the last few weeks, often with neighborhood residents and business owners cheering or marching along, was inexcusable. I appreciate the fact that you added the box at the last minute, in an effort to acknowledge the terrible looting and vandalism experienced by some neighborhood businesses. I don’t believe that excuses the references to “riots” and “mobs.” At this critical time, there is simply no room for incendiary language. Los Angeles is a diverse city, and the Larchmont Chronicle generally does a wonderful job of covering our diverse collection of neighborhoods. I am writing on behalf of residents who felt hurt and alienated by your language, regardless of the color of their skin. Property damage is always worthy of condemnation. Doing so in this way, with no mention of George Floyd or racial injustice, was unacceptable. Yolanda Felton Brookside Resident St. James’ Parent
Value life over property
ORIGINAL FARMERS MARKET at 3rd and Fairfax prior to graffiti removal the afternoon of May 31.
I live in a lovely house that I and my three roommates rent — we are probably some of the only renters on our block. We have a black cat that once out-ran a coyote, the blurry escape captured on a neighbor’s security camera. She is a tough cat, “defending” our house from any dog that passes. Two of us have lived in this house four years this July.
We are young women in our 20s. I am white and my three roommates are Black. We are neighbors and Larchmont residents. Perhaps you forgot who you may have been speaking to, in this edition of the Larchmont Chronicle — that there are those of us among your readers who value Black life over private property. Your small black box on the front page that noted the “nearby riots,” the “business vandalized,” and “mobs” did not do justice to the current state of our world. That is putting it lightly. I have questions for you. Do you know what caused the protests? I hear your concern about smallbusiness owners and their stores. You send your “condolences.” What do you think about the murders? Where are condolences for black lives? We are reading this paper on the day of George Floyd’s memorial. You have made your choice and declared the world you live in. I am grateful to live in a different one, in which there is mourning, and anger, and a recognition of human loss. I urge you to honor the lives lost more than you do the buildings. What about listing the names of the people who were killed? You ought to be ashamed — if you were self-aware enough, you would feel it. Julia Hannafin Larchmont Village
I’m a local resident. My wife and I live on Mansfield Ave. I hope this is not the first message you’ve received on this subject. I was deeply upset by your front page “coverage” of the “riots” in our area. Your blatant priority for the sanctity of private property over the sanctity of human life and equal rights is frankly deplorable. The fact that your editor did not even mention the peaceful protests that have been convened in our area and around the world is a (Please turn to page 8D)
JULY 2020 — SPECIAL SECTION
Local association leaders report on 2020 protest impacts, responses By Billy Taylor Following more than two weeks of unrest as Angelenos took to the streets to protest racial injustice and systemic racism, local leaders are evaluating the impact the events have had on their community. The neighborhoods of Hancock Park (Highland to Rossmore; Wilshire to Olympic) and Windsor Square (Arden to Van Ness; Wilshire to Beverly) were on alert, and there was some May 2020 looting in the commercial part of Windsor Square. The Larchmont Chronicle shared with current local association leaders the accompanying 1992 Chronicle story following the unrest experienced then, and we asked for comments about the situation 28 years later. Hancock Park “Aside from what happened nearby on Larchmont Boulevard, we didn’t have any problems in our neighborhood,” said Cindy Chvatal, president of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association. “It was overwhelmingly peaceful,” she explained to the Chronicle last month. “Even those days when we experienced large groups in the neighborhood, it was always peaceful.” Nevertheless, when the protests first erupted, security and emergency preparedness were topics on the minds of many local residents. “As a homeowners’ association, we started to send out information immediately,” explained Chvatal, who praised the new LAPD Wilshire Divi-
LAPD Capt. Shannon Paulson
sion Commanding Officer Shannon Paulson for reaching out to community leaders with accurate and reliable information that helped residents feel safe. “There was some misinformation being circulated on social media that we were able to help dispel,” said Chvatal. Additionally, private security firms SSA and ADT increased the number of patrol cars in the neighborhood and kept communications open with community leaders. “SSA kept three cars and ADT kept two cars in the neighborhood at all times, and we were able to send residents the car information and phone numbers,” said Chvatal. In regards to property crime, Chvatal said that she was not
PEACEFUL PROTEST, Getty House in Windsor Square, June 2. Photo by Frank Moser
aware of a single incident directly related to the protests. “Hancock Park was able to quickly come together because of our well-organized block captains and an active neighborhood watch program,” said Chvatal. “In some ways, the events actually brought people together.” Windsor Square Most of the more intense action took place within the borders of Windsor Square, including light vandalism and several smash-and-grab burglaries in the Larchmont Vil-
WINDSOR SQUARE RESIDENTS show their 2020 support for Black Lives Matter.
lage shopping district during the first weekend of unrest, followed by several days of National Guard patrols, as well as multiple well-attended demonstrations outside Getty House, the Irving Blvd. official residence of the mayor of Los Angeles. An active board of directors for the Windsor Square Association (WSA) was quick to mobilize in response. “One of the long-time, standing committees appointed by the board is our three-director Public Safety Committee,” explained WSA President Larry Guzin. “Upon learning these civil rights protests were going to be conducted at the Mayor’s residence, this committee contacted and met with an LAPD Senior Lead Officer assigned to our neighborhood to share information after we anecdotally learned protests and possible looting would occur in Larchmont Village. This was information LAPD had not otherwise been provided.” Guzin credits the WSA block captains for providing reliable information to residents in a timely manner: “The Association is proud of our block captain network,” he said. “During these civil rights protests vetted information from various government officials, including Council District 4 and LAPD, was shared on a repeated basis with our residents.” When asked about any lasting impact the protests will have on the neighborhood, Guzin said that the “civil rights protests” have given the WSA residents a lot to think about:
ON GUARD on Larchmont, June 2020.
“The Association encourages the freedom to peacefully assemble on public property in our neighborhood and to speak freely on civil rights and other issues. This freedom of expression guaranteed by our Bill of Rights is democracy in action, distinguishing us from places that do not benefit from living under the rule of law. “Nevertheless, and particularly in these difficult times, the Association regrets the instances of concurrent criminality in Larchmont Village, where innocent merchants were victimized by looting, and the peace of mind of our Windsor Square neighbors was unduly affected.” Guzin said that further discussion of the protests and the underlying issues will be on the agenda for the Association’s next board meeting as well as a topic to be discussed at the annual Town Hall in November.
Transcript of June 1992 story at right
Residents Plan Meetings to Expand Neighborhood Watch By Jane Gilman As the momentum for Rebuild LA grows following the riots which erupted on April 29, local residents are evaluating their lack of preparedness and feelings of helplessness they experienced during the four days of looting, arson and other crimes. “As the riots escalated, residents realized how illprepared they were for a disaster,” said Gary J. Herman Sr., president of the Hancock Park Homeowners Assoc. Michael Cornwell, president of Windsor Square Assoc., said homeowners he queried after the riot handled the situation in a variety of ways. “Some residents left for the nearest resorts, others patrolled and others took precautionary steps such as taking in the trash in case it was set on fire, asking neighbors to turn on all their outside lights, and removing their parked cars from the streets.” A few residents hired their own private security
guards to patrol their own and adjacent blocks; others equipped themselves with walkie-talkies and patrolled the neighborhood in their cars. Westec, the private security firm which serves Hancock Park and Windsor Square, set up a command post in Fremont Place and increased its patrol personnel by 50 percent. Cornwell said the Westec cars were very much in evidence and provided tremendous security for the community. On Thursday, the second day of the rioting and looting, Larchmont Village shop owners began closing their stores early in the afternoon. Some took merchandise with them or hid it safely out of sight. Fred and Suzanne Rheinstein, owners of Hollyhock, hired a security guard to protect their store. Mark Pelton, owner of Larchmont Japanese Antiques, also patrolled outside his store. Because local resident Don Hedgepath felt the
deserted look of Larchmont Blvd. made it a target, he joined the security guard and later so did several others. Residents got in touch with Barry Greenberg, one of the leaders of the Larchmont Neighborhood
Watch, and he mobilized his neighbors. Said Greenberg, “We knew the police would be unable to service our area, so we grabbed radios, cellular telephones, flashlights, floodlights and the yellow jackets (indicating that
they were part of the official Neighborhood Watch program) and mobilized for the next three days. “Block captains drove continuously from Arden Blvd. east to Norton Ave., from Third St. to Beverly Blvd. We found numerous
individuals, both in cars and on foot, who might have meant harm to our shops and homes, but we refused to allow it. “We chased them, shined lights on them, detained them...and reported license
(Please turn to page 8E)
JULY 2020 — SPECIAL SECTION
What does community mean in Larchmont? I wrote the following letter to the Larchmont Chronicle because, upon reading their June issue, I felt more unwelcome in this community than I’ve ever felt. To their credit, the Chronicle offered to run my “l o n g,” seething, critical letter as a guest column. I’ve opted to have it reprinted here because in addition to writing it as a letter to the Chronicle and to Councilman David Ryu, I also meant it as a letter to members of this community, my (residential) community. For those of you who make it to the end, I hope it makes you feel something. I hope you interrogate those feelings patiently, and honestly. ••• Dear Larchmont Chronicle, I found your newspaper on my doorstep last Thursday and thought long and hard before I opened it. In the middle of a week when the country has been boiling over with the overwhelming twin pandemics of the novel coronavirus and the not-at-all-novel virus of police brutality against Black lives, I didn’t know what to expect from a paper that serves my largely wealthy, White neighborhood. Alas, I opened it and learned just how notably invisible I, as a Black resident, seem to be to this newspaper. I was surprised by the abject truth that this paper took pains to ignore, or else altogether talk around, my existence and presence in this neighborhood. On the morning of June 4, 2020, the same day as the first of many memorials for George Floyd and mere days after people of all creeds and colors gathered (just a stone’s throw from my own home) to demand more of “our” mayor (not for a plethora of loosely articulated reasons, but for the very clearly and oft repeated insistence that this city put an end to police brutality against Black lives), the Larchmont Chronicle managed to ignore that anything so grand had taken place. In the entire June issue there was not a single mention of the Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place in this neighborhood, all over this city, in ev-
ery state of this nation, and in various countries all over the world. There was not a single mention of the specific deaths and injustices, which incited those protests. And, perhaps most bafflingly, not even a single mention of the word Black (or African American) in reference to any person at all. The Larchmont Chronicle, it seems, cannot state unequivocally — or even flounderingly, as some are wont to do — that Black lives matter because the Larchmont Chronicle, apparently, doesn’t even acknowledge that Black people exist! In all of this month’s issue, there was no space to discuss the movement for Black lives, but there was space to sympathize with (and offer condolences to!) the business owners whose store fronts and merchandise may have been negatively impacted. There was no space to invite reflection from the community about how they may feel, what questions they may be asking themselves and what resources they may have to better understand the current moment. But there was space for lamentation that this year’s Taste of Larchmont festival has been canceled. There was no historical contextualizing of the legacy this district has played in red-lining and anti-Black socio-political oppression, no reminder that it was in Hancock Park where a finally wealthy and famous Nat “King” Cole returned to his newly purchased home to find the word “NIGGER” spelled in gasoline and lit ablaze as a perverse and most-American (and, apparently, Hancockian) welcome to the neighborhood. But there was space in this month’s paper for a bizarre and almost satirically tone-deaf full-page spread about White women embarking upon the adventure of cleaning their own homes for the first time, reveling in their own ignorance of common household products and appliances (and, seeming, an inability to read product labels), all without even superficially stumbling into the valley of appreciation and respect for those who’ve
Readers, like me, matter
(Continued from page 8B) critical failure of journalism. You have a responsibility to your fellow Americans and your community. Thousands of people gathered in Park La Brea to stand up for American civil rights and you don’t even mention it? Shame on you. Do better. You are functioning as part of the problem. People in our community surely rely on you as a news source, and you have failed us. Charlie Hewson Mansfield Ave.
I am a young Black woman, raised in Los Angeles county, and a resident of Larchmont for the past four years. I’m also a filmmaker, web developer, cat lover, and avid traveler. I love Larchmont, the vibrancy of the community, and above all, the diversity of Los Angeles. However, the past few weeks in Los Angeles and around our country have shaken me to my core, and reading the cover of your June issue cut me that much deeper. I am writing in regards to your choice to highlight the
ensured that they never once have to clean up after themselves. How is the absurdity of all of this beyond you all? How can you not see that at a time when people are literally dying for the right to live lawfully, your merry anecdotes about husbands washing the dishes for the first time — paired with the resonant absence of any even perfunctory acknowledgement of those for whom life is unbearable right now — is ludicrous! It’s asinine. It’s irresponsible. Beyond offensive, far beyond negligent, it is VIOLENT. It constitutes, in no uncertain terms, an ERASURE. The banner of the Larchmont Chronicle claims that the paper is delivered to 76,439 readers across Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Fremont Place, Miracle Mile, Park La Brea and Larchmont. Do you really think that in these neighborhoods in the center of one of the most ethnically diverse cities in this “melting pot” of a nation, there are not thousands of Black lives? Thousands of Black readers whom your paper could be delivered to? And, what if actually none of your readers are Black? Are you under the impression that would then excuse your silence in the face of brutality against us? It does not matter that this issue was distributed so soon after the protests began — if you had enough time to publish condolences for businesses impacted by the uprisings, then you had more than enough time and page space to offer condolences for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and a list of names so long you could fill next month’s issue with it. You could have, at least, made clear where you stand, that you know that BLACK LIVES MATTER. And you didn’t. To my neighbors, I say: either you are anti-racist or you are okay with benefiting from
the racism our country (and likely a considerable amount of your family’s personal wealth) is built upon. Either you want to fight racism or you value your apathy and your comfort more than Black and Brown trauma. That is it. Those are your options. It’s important to me that this newspaper and neighborhood understand: either you at least state (and pretend that you understand) that BLACK LIVES MATTER. That Black lives matter, full stop, without caveat. Or, you accept that through your silence, you are actively making clear that to you, Black lives don’t actually matter. I’m not saying, Larchmont Chronicle, that you have a choice to make. I am saying that, with your June issue, you have chosen. I’m saying that for all of the constituents of this neighborhood who are actively and passionately invested in the fight against racism, it is clear to us that you do not count yourselves among our number. That to you, racism and the sustained letting of Black blood upon stolen American soil is not worth commenting upon. When you chose this month of all months to instead publish an article celebrating a new LAPD captain, you told us loud and clear where you stand. Even the godforsaken 49ers, of all organizations, saw fit to make explicit that suddenly they understand that Black lives matter. Saying so would’ve been the least you could do with your front page before it hit the presses and my front door on that especially burdensome day. With regard to David Ryu’s article, and to Ryu himself, I say: I was heartened when I saw the title of your article, “Threat of virus exposes simmering racism and bigotry,” but, again, I found myself disappointed. And too, laughing at myself for expecting anything more. Ryu, I’m glad you made the genuinely bold decision to speak openly about racism and discrimination in this city and to do something about it. We both know that is no small feat when one is
speaking and working with a mostly White — and at that, wealthy — audience who are likely to resent you bringing up what they might prefer to deny or ignore. But your failure to connect that specific racism which hits home for you, anti-Asian racism, to the long legacy of anti-Black racism and White supremacy in this country was unacceptable. What is more, that you had the gall to bring up the ’92 LA riots exclusively in relation to how it affected Korean shop owners was fantastically infuriating. And that you only managed to connect, and limply at that, the struggle against anti-Asian xenophobia with that of antisemitism read plainly — and dishonorably — as a superficial attempt to engage this district’s many Jewish residents. I’m embarrassed for you. We all know that this neighborhood, this district, is not overwhelmingly Black. But your care and passion for defending life and justice should not end at your voter base. You should care about Black life, whether or not it directly socially or monetarily benefits you to do so. You should care about Black life, whether or not you have the historical knowledge or the informed foresight to understand the complex ways in which the fight to protect and value Black life is inextricably bound with the fight to protect and value Asian and Jewish life and freedom. I call on you to remember Martin Niemöller’s poem “First They Came,” to understand that this is where we are. These are the times we are in. Silence is not apolitical — it never has been — and now, more than ever, is the time to grow a spine and be about it. Trust, there is so much power with the people. So I ask, David Ryu and the Larchmont Chronicle, what does community mean in Larchmont? Unity in blissful ignorance? Spare me. Bethel S. Moges, Larchmont Village, is an educator and is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley (AB 2011) and the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (MSc 2016).
looting in the city on your front page, over your acknowledgement that Black Lives Matter. That my life matters. That people who look like me, your readers, matter. The center piece, black box that alerted to “riots and mobs” cruelly said to me, “I understand that Black people are being killed, but that’s no reason to loot,” when the humane thing would be to say, “I understand that stores are being looted, but Black people are being killed.” In essence, you’ve let me and many others know that you value property over human life.
I appreciate the essence of time in publishing, but what are your priorities? You could have addressed the various opinions on looting in your July issue. Instead, on the day of George Floyd’s memorial, you choose to send your “condolences” to those whose property might be damaged, rather than condole with the families who have lost loved ones to police brutality. In reference to the “riots,” you choose to write that your readers “probably got more than enough of the disturbing news on TV,” rather than express the disturbing news in
seeing another Black life taken at the hands of police. You made it very clear that you are not with us in the urgent fight against anti-racism. And like many people across the United States and world right now, you need to ask yourself: In what ways am I either upholding or working to dismantle this country’s greatest pandemic — white supremacy? BLACK LIVES MATTER DEFUND THE POLICE CARE, NOT COPS Tayler Johnson Larchmont Village
Guest Column by
Bethel S. Moges
JULY 2020 — SPECIAL SECTION
Institutional racism framed city housing policy, practices for generations Beginning the week of Memorial Day, Los Angeles — alongside cities across the world — has seen massive, multi-racial and multi-generational calls for justice unlike anything we have seen since the Civil Rights era. Outrage at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as years of simmering frustration about police brutality against Black Americans, have birthed a new awakening on racial injustice. If we want to truly invest in solutions that ensure this brutality does not continue, we need to look closely at our past and begin the process of true healing and reconciliation. From the original sin of slavery, to the subjugation of Black people during the Jim Crow era, to mass incarceration and housing discrimination, we can draw a throughline from our painful past to the injustices of today. It also needs to start at home. Los Angeles is a city that prides itself on diversity, but it is also a city built on racist policies and violent discrimination that has created disparities in health, education and income in our present day.
For example, the American dream of homeownership was denied to many Black Americans in the early- to mid-20th century — and to many Black Angelenos. Restrictive covenants in land subdividers’ deeds for residential parcels, coupled with redlining — a discriminatory practice wherein mortgage lenders denied loans for certain neighborhoods that were composed largely of Black Americans — shaped the city we see today. This redlining practice was aided by two government agencies created as part of 1930s New Deal legislation. The Federal Home Loan Bank Board and the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation created “residential security maps” that used a color system to grade neighborhoods into distinct categories. “Red” neighborhoods, composed of communities of color or ethnic minorities, were determined to be risky for mortgage lenders and insurers. Racially discriminatory deed covenants and redlining effectively ruled out the possibility for Black Americans and other marginalized groups to purchase some properties or get a mortgage or insurance,
number of concerned residents who volunteered their time to make sure nobody dared even think about destroying property in this community. Local resident Huell Howser and his neighbors chased looters away from Radio Shack near
(Continued from page 8C) plates numbers of their cars to the police.” Larchmont Village was spared, said Greenberg, because his group was able to enlist a
BROKEN GLASS DOOR at Mo:Vint on Larchmont, May 31.
LOS ANGELES CHEDER / BAIS TZIVIA elementary school on La Brea and Waring avenues was marred with obscene and anarchist graffiti the afternoon of May 30.
leading to the governmentsanctioned, de facto segregation of America’s cities and a resulting racial wealth gap that persists to this day. We must acknowledge that communities like Hancock Park, Miracle Mile, Wilshire Park and Windsor Square — graded on the redlining maps in part green or blue for “first” and “second” grades, respectively — are not exempt from this history. In fact, they are built from it. Many of you know the story of when Nat King Cole moved into Hancock Park. When Cole, perhaps the most famous Black entertainer at the time, and his wife, Maria, tried to buy a home in Hancock Park, they faced verbal harassment, intimidation and violence. Someone even poisoned their dog. All this, simply for being Black in a traditionally white neighborhood, and for violat-
ing the private deed covenants that excluded non-Caucasians. Ultimately, and righteously, Cole stood his ground. He and his family built roots in the community. Today, the neighborhood post office for 90004 bears his name. However, Nat King Cole was not the rule — he was the exception — and the work continues. As we confront this painful history that shaped our own city — and as we work to dismantle systems of injustice — we must start with ourselves, and with the city we are building for the next generation. As your councilmember, I am committed to making change at the root. This moment requires us to listen, to work together, and to move forward with a vision that serves our city and all its people. One avenue is through the City of Los Angeles budget, and how we invest tangible dollars into the fight against racism and historic discrimination. As we find our budget at a shortfall due to the pandemic, we must affirm our commitment to the social services that support the most vulnerable.
As I have written before, we must prioritize city programs that focus on housing, homelessness, workforce development and more. Homelessness and inequality are not solved through increased policing, but through dedicated work at every level of government to prioritize people and communities in need. We must be willing to reimagine public safety — and think critically about when an armed law enforcement response is needed. We ask law enforcement to respond to so many of society’s fractures — not to fix them, but to put them out of sight. This isn’t a solution; it’s a band-aid. Solving problems like poverty, homelessness, and systemic racism takes work — and it takes investment in the communities that have historically been left behind. The effects of institutional racism have framed our policies and practices for generations, but we cannot let them define our future. This work ahead will be hard, and it will involve many tough conversations. However, it is the work worth doing — and I look forward to making that progress together.
Melrose Ave. and Rossmore Ave. while employees at George’s Chevron at Melrose Ave. and Larchmont Blvd. helped to patrol the nearby antiques shops. Community meetings have been scheduled by three homeowner groups in June to determine ways to increase Neighborhood Watch and other security programs. Community Meetings The Wed., June 3 board meeting of the La Brea-Hancock
Homeowners Assoc. at the offices of Advanced Information Services, 4929 Wilshire Blvd., suite 270, at 7 p.m. will be open to the general membership, said Fred Pickel, president. All Windsor Square block captains and Larchmont Village shop owners are invited to the quarterly meeting of the Larchmont Neighborhood Watch group on Thurs., June 4 at 7 p.m. in the Western Federal Savings community
room, 101 N. Larchmont Blvd. Emergency planning procedures and expanded Neighborhood Watch activities are the meeting topics. Psychiatrist Dr. David Viscott will address the Hancock Park Homeowners Assoc. meeting on Tues., June 9 at 7 p.m. at Marlborough School, 250 S. Rossmore Ave. He will talk about ways to help individuals and the community cope after the recent riots.
Council Report by
David E. Ryu
JULY 2020 — SPECIAL SECTION
(Continued from page 8B) centuries. A step toward becoming antiracist is simply to understand and remember that Black Lives Matter. Prosecute criminals We at the Larchmont Chronicle believe that most people support peaceful protest marches. We also believe that most people are opposed to violent mobs rioting. The violent activities that took place locally on May 30 and 31 — on Larchmont and in nearby locations — definitely were riots (“violent disturbances of the peace by a crowd”). The not-peaceful groups of people who were smashing windows, breaking into stores, stealing property, and setting fires definitely were mobs (“large crowds of people, especially ones that are disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence”). The two groups (a majority of peaceful protesters and a minority of criminal rioters) absolutely should not be lumped together (although
the rioters clearly took advantage of the peaceful protesters and their marches). Individuals exercising their Constitutional rights by protesting in a peaceful march are different from violent individuals in a rioting mob. The two should be treated differently in a civil and peaceful society. Protestors and victims need to be protected from those who break the peace. The killing of George Floyd is a serious crime that is being prosecuted. So should be all murders, arsons, assaults, burglaries and vandalism. All crimes matter, and all crime should be prosecuted. If something is not appropriate to prosecute, legislators should no longer make that act a crime. Peaceful marchers are not criminals and should not be treated as criminals. Mobs of violent individuals who riot are criminals and should be prosecuted. We hope that public officials will do both — protect and prosecute.
COLORFUL MURALS painted by neighbor families and friends in place of shattered glass.
(Continued from page 8A) help for over four hours. “I’m just mad because we’ve been providing a valued service for over 17 years (as one of the only Apple Premier partners in the U.S.); we pay our taxes; I have not furloughed anyone during quarantine; and our livelihood was destroyed before our eyes (and many other small businesses, too). The city should have been more prepared — Los Angeles has been through this before. They have the handbook already.” Moving forward She may be angry, but Nasseri is not letting it stand in her way. She and her family are moving forward with getting Melrose Mac back to its full operational status. “We are operational now, out of our warehouse and home office, and are lucky that a vacant building two doors down from the store became available for us to use. But it will take another 6-8 weeks for our retail storefront to be back to its for-
(Continued from page 8A)
LARCHMONT Rite-Aid pharmacy, May 31 after burglary.
BLENDS sneaker store on Larchmont, morning of May 31.
were largely orderly, authorities nevertheless declared unlawful assemblies at some points. Police ordered assembled people to disperse and to leave the areas. Whenever that did not happen, or in situations where protesters did not observe a curfew, arrests were made throughout the county. Also, some of the looters were arrested, but not many initially. Detectives are still seeking to identify and arrest those alleged criminals. Almost everyone arrested for failure to disperse or for violating the curfew was released within hours or overnight, and local prosecutors District Attorney Jackie Lacey and City Attorney Michael Feuer decided not to pursue prosecution. Clean-up volunteers As early as the morning after the Saturday, May 30 violence, concerned neighbors from
DEVASTATION from arson is visible in the sales office and computer lab portions of Melrose Mac.
mer glory. And the lab will take over a year.” Uplifting messages Nasseri put out a June 13 call to friends, family, customers and members of the community, including her children’s school and temple (Wilshire Boulevard) to come down for a day of morale-boosting activity, fun and camaraderie. They would spend the day painting colorful murals with uplifting messages on the store’s board-
ed-up façade. “I just couldn’t look at those boards anymore. We decided to turn something ugly into something beautiful,” she says. The event also featured a book drive (Nasseri is a long time supporter of The Book Foundation, which has donated thousands of books to children in need during the pandemic), a churro truck, popsicles, and, of course, face masks for all.
throughout the surrounding community, including families with children, brought their brooms and cleaning equipment to help repair the damage done to small neighborhood businesses, synagogues and other institutions. Such citizen volunteerism also was in evidence after the 1992 vandalism and looting. For example, by late Sunday May 31, all of the graffiti and broken windows on the Third Street side of the Original Farmers Market had been removed or repaired by market staff and volunteers. However, evidence of damaged businesses and boarded-up windows remained evident through mid-June along Fairfax, La Brea, Melrose and even Larchmont. De-fund the police? On June 3, Mayor Eric Garcetti suggested that his in-process 2020-2021 City of Los Angeles budget should be revised to transfer some expenditures out of the Police
Department and into city social services. Elected officials in San Francisco, Portland, Nashville, Denver and other cities across the nation are similarly reconsidering their budgets for police funding. On June 15, Black Lives Matter - Los Angeles leaders and others met with members of the Los Angeles City Council, in Council Chambers at City Hall, for two hours to present arguments for a different sort of city budget, the “People’s Budget,” and for “defunding the police.” Learn more at peoplesbudgetla.com. At press time, there had been no City of Los Angeles action on such budget revisions. Throughout June, organizations and individuals across the country have been commenting in writing and on air on the issues of racism and the Black Lives Matter movement, and a selection of these comments appears in this Special Section.
JULY 2020 — SPECIAL SECTION
We now know what works in policing. Let’s do it. The LAPD has improved, but it won’t get things right until it abandons its “warrior” culture. Over decades as a civil rights lawyer, I have sued police departments, represented victims and whistleblower officers and, for 16 years, worked closely with Los Angeles Police Department Chiefs William J. Bratton and Charlie Beck as they tried to transform policing in the city. As Americans march in outrage over the videotaped police killing of George Floyd, many have asked me whether the LAPD has improved at all since the 1991 beating of Rodney King. The answer is yes, and for the better. But we have a long way to go before men like Rodney King and Floyd would claim it as a department that protects and serves them. I know many good officers who risk their lives to protect rather than hunt residents of Black neighborhoods; officers who serve the code of truth, not the code of silence; who divert poor Black and Latino children away from gangs and the prison pipeline. I know their valor, compassion and integrity firsthand. And I know that they are a minority, both within the predominant warrior culture of American policing and within the LAPD.
With civilian and court help, progressive police leaders have improved discipline, reduced police killings, banned chokeholds, engaged with community leaders and made other changes that are seismic in the world of policing. In most of Black America, however, those changes have meant little. Progress at the top did not help George Floyd, Walter Scott, Philando Castile or the hundreds of victims whose abuse wasn’t recorded. Even in cities that made real changes, like Los Angeles, the progress has failed to end an entrenched warrior culture of impunity, or the “thin blue line” mindset of us versus them. Most departments still use toxic tactics like stop-and-frisk. This kind of dehumanizing policing has turned the poorest Black and brown neighborhoods into gulags. A Black man living in the ZIP Code that includes the Nickerson Gardens housing projects in Watts now faces a 70% to 80% chance of being incarcerated at some point in his life, according to research conducted by Raj Chetty at Harvard. That statistic is almost as unacceptable as what happened to Floyd. Disciplined warrior cops will always be needed to respond to the direst dangers. But
Guest Column by
unchecked warrior culture leads to the aggression seen in the use of Tasers on unresisting students in Atlanta, the shoving of a 75-year-old man to the ground in Buffalo, N.Y., and televised baton strikes against peaceful protesters in Los Angeles. We saw its most extreme expression in the casual malevolence of the Floyd killing. Under warrior policing, communities on the right side of the “thin blue line” receive safety and protection; communities on the wrong side receive suppression and prison. Folks living on the right side of that police line do not ask officers to kill the unarmed, but they do expect them to contain neighborhoods on the wrong side of the line, and they blind themselves to the kind of searchand-destroy tactics that feed mass incarceration. The good news is, we know how to change this. In 2010, then-LAPD Chief Beck and activists created the Community Safety Partnership, a holistic, problem-solving
approach to safety for highcrime areas that minimizes suppression, maximizes trust and acts through partnerships among residents, gang interventionists, local leaders, experts and other agencies to remove the root causes of trauma and crime. A recent UCLA evaluation found that reductions in violent crime and gang control in these partnership sites exceeded countywide declines, and the gains were accomplished with far fewer arrests and no police shootings or beatings. Moreover, residents reported higher trust in Community Safety Partnership officers. Residents of neighborhoods traumatized by gang violence, predatory policing, endemic poverty and mass incarceration did not report seeing significant improvement in policing since 1992. The exception was residents in partnership sites. Warrior enforcement culture needs to be replaced with this kind of guardianstyle approach that rewards problem-solving engagement between officers and the communities they protect. The less good news is that the work to institutionalize this approach will be challenging. Fully replacing warrior DNA with guardian DNA is a battle for the soul of policing that LAPD has just begun.
And that’s not the only fight we have to win. After the 1965 Watts riots, the McCone Commission concluded that preventing future unrest required two things: ending police mistreatment and addressing “the spiral of despair” caused by entrenched poverty. We haven’t even begun to address that second crisis. The cause for hope is that we know how to fix policing. The cause for inspiration is the multiracial army marching across the nation demanding that Black lives matter. The protesters have served notice that the consent of the governed for predatory policing and industrialized racial injustice has been revoked. As the sign held by a little girl with long blond hair marching in Chicago put it, “Shut the Whole Damned System Down.” Thanks to them, we have one last chance to, finally, overcome. Connie Rice, a former member of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, is a civil rights attorney and author of “Power Concedes Nothing.” She also is the founder of urbanpeaceinstitute.org. The Larchmont Chronicle thanks Ms. Rice for this contribution that also was published on June 9 in the “Los Angeles Times.”
Mayor Garcetti addresses protests, COVID-19; Black student tells story By Rachel Olivier The Tuesday following the Sat.-Sun., May 30-31 peaceful demonstrations and tangential civil unrest in multiple parts of the county, including in and near to Larchmont Village, Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the city in one of his 5:15 p.m. COVID-19-era broadcasts from City Hall. Larchmont Chronicle editors, impressed more than usual by what he had to say that evening, and with no transcript available from the Mayor’s Office, transcribed the 16-minute, June 2, 2020 speech from his MayorOfLA Facebook videos page, and we share it here. (Subheads have been added by the Chronicle.) Mayor Garcetti Good evening, Los Angeles. We come together tonight after a day that, I hope, as painful as these days are, that we can be proud of. Proud because we see our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans, not only exercising their constitutional, but their God-given, right to share their life and their perspective and to call in this moment for this country to pivot. For this country to do better. Not for some Americans, but for all
Americans. I felt a little cooped up today, so I went outside. I joined organizers on the streets of Mayor our city just Eric Garcetti outside here in City Hall. I know I’m the mayor, so I know some people would be happy to see me, and others might be upset at this moment and need to yell at me. And both of those things happened. That’s part of what you do as a leader. You step forward to hear people’s pain, to try to understand it and never dismiss it, and to try to offer more than a voice forward, but steps forward. To understand that peace isn’t just built as a request, but it is earned when we embrace the idea of justice. Look, most of these briefings that you listen, and I don’t know how long television stations will carry me tonight, they usually have a fire chief, and a police chief, and a city manager, and council members and mayors. They usually update you on what’s happening in the city, and I think that’s important, but you’re getting that news every hour. I wish some of it were more
the stories of everyday Angelenos marching, who want to share what it means to have faced racism in their lives. And their allies who say this isn’t just the work of Black Americans, but of white, and Asian, and Native and Latino Americans, too. I wish we could hear those stories more. Talk from my heart And so tonight, I want to do something a little bit different. I want to talk from my heart to and about Black Angelenos, and Americans, because at the end of the day, this moment is first and foremost about whether we make a decision collectively, not just to answer the snuffing out of a life — the lynching of a man in Minneapolis, and the collective death that we have seen pile on and pile on and pile on, until people wonder what Black lives mean, what Black bodies, whether they are valued — but to go deeper to understand that this is a moment of opportunity, and of hope, and of change. I left the protests in the street after taking a knee, after praying, and after addressing the crowd. And, I joined Rev. K.W. Tulloss, who’s the president of the Baptist Ministers Conference; my old friends Pastor William Smart, Bishop
Juan Carlos Mendez, and Pastor Michael Fisher, Jr., who is here with me tonight; and many others. And before anybody who is friends with them, say anything to them, they gave me a good, hard time. They were demanding about justice, as everyone in America should be right now. And like so many others who were peacefully protesting, we need to hear those voices. And I want to lift one of those up tonight. And I would just ask, cut away when I come back, if you need to. But I would ask our television stations to give the voice on the evening news to a young, Black, male Angeleno. Because, at the end of the day, this story is about the pain that people carry the day that they are born from the traumas visited on their ancestors, and from the first moment they’re taller than a cute little boy, the way they’re looked at in our society. And I’m going to ask a young man of faith, and of inspiration, who I met today, Davion Pilgrim, a 16-year-old student from Morningside High School, who told me his story. And I want you to hear his story to talk about what this moment and this movement means.
So, Davion, thank you so much for being with us. This microphone and this city is yours. [Davion Pilgrim’s remarks are in an accompanying box] Thank you, Davion. Thank you for the courage of this moment, and for the courage of your generation. Justice is never given; it is earned. It is earned by the chapters we see written on the streets of our country — sometimes with people’s bodies, and always with the courage that they have to move us forward. To do the right things So, here’s the uncomfortable part tonight. It falls on leaders not just to say the right things, but to do the right things. After I left that meeting across the street with the leaders from the Baptist community and the faith community, I came back and I listened to folks on my own team. I listened to a powerful, young Black man, who said that it’s tough to even work in government right now. Another member of my team who said every single time, even though he works for the mayor and carries a mayor’s badge, when somebody rolls up behind him from law enforcement, it (Please turn to page 8H)
Mayor’s speech (Continued from page 8G)
makes him shudder. And he’s worried about whether reaching for that badge to reassure them, might scare them more than just sitting there until he can explain who he is. I heard from April who is doing the most amazing work, housing Angelenos who are unhoused, and who is dealing with the pain of this moment by taking things to folks who are living in our shelters that we’ve set up. So, she brought shoes to them, and all she could think about in her mind was, with a car full of shoes, will they think that I’m a looter? I want non-Black Angelenos to hear those stories and to have those conversations. Have them in your workplace and in your neighborhood. Have them in your church and wherever you are. If we don’t acknowledge that a Black woman is four times more likely to die because she wants to bring a child into this world than a white woman, then we can’t see that. If we don’t see that if you’re a Black man in Los Angeles, you’re 10 times more likely to be homeless than if you’re a white man, we can’t see that. And while not every death is as visible and as vicious as George Floyd’s, we have to own those deaths that come from the diabetes, and that come from COVID-19, and all of the things that visit Black Americans disproportionately because of where they start life and where this society values their life. The schools that they are born into in the neighborhoods where they live, that have been discarded, and efforts to fund those schools rejected. The moments in which we see that racial justice can’t be the work of 10 percent of a nation, it has to be the work of 100 percent of the nation. Placing our resources So to my fellow Angelenos, to my African-American brothers and sisters who live in this city, I want to say, I hear you. And I hear that this isn’t just about
JULY 2020 — SPECIAL SECTION
the criminal justice system. This is about also our society and where we put our resources. When we’ve done things like raise the minimum wage, and that disproportionately hits women and African-Americans, we have to see those as important bricks in building this new house. When we do things like making community college free, that contributes to what we see with justice. But we also have from our budget, which is a moral document, which needs to keep people safe and protected, but the best way for people to be safe and protected, and I hear you on the street loud and clear, is not just by throwing dollars always into police departments, but also into youth programs, and into educational opportunities, and into trauma-based recovery for people who carry trauma. I don’t have announcements tonight, but I want you to know that I’ve been having these conversations for the last two or three days. I’m having them with my fellow elected officials. I’m having them with community leaders. I’m having them with young people, who are demanding that I, and we, collectively do better. That just as after the trauma of 1992, we emerged forward with saying never again to things like legalized chokeholds, which kill Black men in this city. Never again to no independent investigations when there’s acts of police brutality. And never again to many things. We must ask what are the never again moments today. And I look forward in the next day or two, and with mayors across the country, who I’ve been having this conversation with, to make sure that we build from this moment, that we hear from this moment, that we fund from this moment. That we look at the prism of race in America as one of the greatest sins that we have had and one that stays with us, and that we can only get past when we all get past that together. Looking forward That’s my simple pledge to
you tonight. As we look at what has been a safer day and a more beautiful day, I look forward to the day when we get rid of a curfew, when we don’t have National Guard, when our police officers don’t have their helmets on. And I want to make sure we can see the difference between people who are looting, and we will go after folks who break into businesses. We will go after people who are looting or worse, causing violence against demonstrators or to peace officers. But let’s put that here, and not let that dominate what this moment and this movement is about. Because if we let that be the only image, if we let that be the only story, we are missing our opportunity and this isn’t going to go away soon. It will only go away when there is the trust that we are taking the actions to build a summer of peace this summer in Los Angeles and across the country: with jobs for young people, with peaceful places to be, with the mental healthcare that we need to deal with, what that feels like day after day after day, to be a young Black man who doesn’t know why people don’t trust him, look at him that way, feel that way, every moment they inhabit a body. Somebody powerfully said to me today, “I’m an ally, but at the end of the day, I can turn off my phone. I can stop looking at Twitter. I can watch some TV. But for my Black brothers and sisters, they can’t turn that off. They can’t stop being Black. They can’t stop being seen by the racism that still pervades our country.” There is so much work for us to do, and I am so proud of this city. I know that there’re those who just want to focus on the law and order. And I know it is my responsibility to throw everything I have into peace, restoration, and building in this city, but that doesn’t just happen from peace officers. That happens from our investments in communities and in neighborhoods. Whether or
STORES WERE BOARDED UP on Larchmont Boulevard for many days in early June.
Davion Pilgrim Hi, my name is Davion Pilgrim, and I am 16 years old. First, I want to say thank you to Mayor Garcetti for giving me this opportunity to speak today because I have a story to share. I was recently stopped by the police officers and racially and criminally profiled. I was accused of being associated with a gang. I thought that really hurt, because that’s not me. I am a God-fearing young Black man. I’m an athlete. I’m a president of the youth department at Greater Zion Church in Compton, under the leadership of Dr. Michael J.T. Fisher. I love God. That’s why I believe in change and I have hope. The opportunities with the people of faith to Davion have a conversation with the mayor today was Pilgrim hopeful. We want to make sure that what happened to George Floyd does not ever happen again to someone that just looks like me. Losing our lives to police officers is one of the biggest fears that we have in South L.A. I have seven brothers and sisters, and I would surely not want none of that to happen to them. This is a hard moment, but the good news is that there is still time for unity. And while I think we should keep protesting and demanding change, there is no need to loot and tear things down. It is time for us to rebuild. Conversations are what we need. We need to talk to each other. We need to understand each other. The police need to understand where we are coming from. It is my prayer — my deep prayer — that we come together in unity. And we take a stand together in a time like this. We need to hold our officers accountable, and we must stay strong for change and for peace. Thank you. Amen.
not we say to folks who have been involved in the criminal justice system: Instead of, “You’re done with your time but there’s no help”…“Here’s a job and here’s a way forward.” For us to look at what our fight with COVID-19 now is about — and please, please, please, everybody who’s been out there protesting so beautifully around Los Angeles — make sure you get tested and make sure you’re maintaining your physical distance, that you’re washing your hands and wearing a mask. Imagine if these days lead to a spread that leads to things getting worse and more people dying. Please, go to coronavirus.lacity.org/testing and get a test. Not only did we have Dodger Stadium open, we’re reopening the Crenshaw Christian Center site, three or four sites that can do thousands and thousands of tests to meet the capacity that we need, because we have to defeat that threat to us all, which does discriminate disproportionately against communities of color. Middle of the mountain Let me just take a breath to say, we aren’t where we once were, but we aren’t where we need to be. We’re maybe stuck somewhere in the middle of the mountain, in this nation, in this city’s history. If you’re young, all you can see is up, and how far we have to go to reach the peak, and you should be unyielding and demanding that we keep climbing. And for some of us who have been around, who have seen the changes, who have worked hard to bring about things like implicit bias training and de-escalation in our police force, or to look at the ways that Summer Night Lights and our gang reduction youth development programs came out of demands from the community to say parks need to be places of peace for the sum-
mer and for our children, that helped us get up the mountain. And we can look down and see how far we’ve come. Two choices We have two choices, Los Angeles: either hopelessness, that this is a moment that can’t be fixed, that America is so broken, that we can’t repair our hearts, and we can’t repair our streets, and we can’t bring peace to our lives; or, we have hope — the only thing that has ever guided this country, our city and our world. We all know, or many of us know, the Negro National Anthem, and I want to quote from it. In the first verse it ends, “Sing us a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us. Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us. And facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won.” Tomorrow the sun will rise above Los Angeles. Tomorrow we have a choice to make. I have a choice to make, and I choose to listen and to move forward, to bring this city together, to build peace on our streets and in our neighborhoods, and to admit the country that we live in, that we love and that we want to see do better. George Floyd died in our America so that we may make sense of our future, to make sure that we never see that again, and that we do the work to carry the promise of this country, and of our City of Angels, forward. I celebrate you on the streets. If you’re breaking the law, we will not let you change the message. And tomorrow when the new sun comes, I hope that everybody in Los Angeles will embrace the work that we have to do together. Hopelessness is not our option; we only have hope and we only have each other.