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Protesters Gather Outside LAPD Headquarters For 2nd Day Of Demonstrations Over Death Of George Floyd

Protesters gathered in downtown L.A. Wednesday in response to the death of a black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

For a second day, protesters have gathered in downtown Los Angeles in response to the death of a man who was being detained by Minneapolis police.

Demonstrators gathered outside the police headquarters this evening. A video posted by Fox LA's Bill Melugin showed them apparently knocking over a barricade as officers came out of the building.

Activists across the nation have turned out to demand justice for George Floyd after the release of a disturbing video of his arrest on Monday. The video shows a Minneapolis officer pinning Floyd to the pavement by placing his knee on the Floyd's neck. For more than five minutes, the officer applies pressure, as Floyd can be heard saying that he couldn't breathe. That officer and three others at the scene have been fired.

In a video posted to YouTube tonight, LAPD Chief Michel Moore tried to strike a conciliatory note, saying he hears the frustrations of protesters. He called the images of the Minneapolis confrontation and the subsequent civil unrest a "sobering reminder of the fragile relationships we have with our communities we serve."

He went on to say:

"I join you in your concerns about reports of excessive force and officers who go beyond the confines of their training or the law. When we do not live up to our core values, we chip away at the trust we've worked so hard to build. We dishonor the badge, as well as the sacrifice of those who gave their life in the service of this city. Street demonstrations are and should be occurring across this country and in this city to bring voices to the injustices."

Moore said the LAPD will work to facilitate the right of protesters "to exercise free speech and express that outrage."


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Black Lives Matter Is Leading A Coalition To Protest City Budget Cuts And LAPD Spending

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Backlash to Mayor Garcetti's new city budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 has spurred some activists to call for a "People's Budget" that spares more social services and reduces spending on the Los Angeles Police Department.

Black Lives Matter-L.A. released a report this week laying out an alternative plan for city spending that emphasizes investment in social work, mental healthcare and conflict resolution instead of law enforcement. Anger over George Floyd's death in Minneapolis at the hands of police, and ensuing protest including in Los Angeles, has added fuel to the movement.

Black Lives Matter-L.A. researcher David Turner says activists surveyed Angelenos to come up with the People’s Budget.

“People want alternatives to law enforcement. People want alternatives to over-policing. And people want to invest in what they know works."

The union that represents the LAPD said in an email there are no new contract talks planned. LAPD officers are taking on more risk than ever during the pandemic, the union added, and the raises in the new budget were fairly negotiated with the city last year.


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LA County's Public Health Director: 'I Don't Think We're Going Too Fast'

A man walks through the Citadel Outlets today in a face mask as the mall reopened. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Tonight we got to ask L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer a question that's been on the minds of many of us: What's behind the much faster pace at which the county is now moving to reopen?

Here are key takeaways from Nick Roman's conversation with Ferrer on our newsroom's All Things Considered, which airs on 89.3 KPCC.


It's been two months of shutdowns. The reopening timeline for L.A. County, at least to my eyes, seems to be moving now at a much quicker pace than what we were looking at even a couple weeks ago. I mean the counties applied for a variance to reopen businesses like hair salons, barbershops and dine-in restaurants.

You've said these decisions are based on data, but how are the financial and business stresses handled when you and the county officials talk about what the next step should be?


I think as much as three weeks ago, we laid out a recovery roadmap for the county and we had, you know, our stages, two through five. We were pretty deliberate in assessing what we thought were lower risk sectors for reopening in Stage Two, and then slightly more moderate risk sectors for opening in Stage Three and then higher risk sectors obviously in Stage Four.

I think, the way we've been reopening in this phased-in approach has really acknowledged that it's time to think about moving forward with the reopening of those lower-risk sectors because we're in Stage Two and our data remains positive, in the sense that:

  • Hospitalizations have dropped significantly
  • Deaths are slightly down and continue to be slightly lower than they were even as recently as a week and a half ago
  • Our positivity rate is down, in terms of the percent of people who are testing positive after being tested for COVID-19

These are all indicators of the excellent work that everyone has done in this county over the last couple of months. For the first time, we do see some declining numbers and have for the last week, week and a half.

So, we're well-positioned to enter into the recovery phase.

I don't think we're going too fast. I think we have to be mindful of aligning with the state as the state reopens. It's easiest on all of us if, wherever possible, the county can move in alignment with the state and I think that's what we've done.

Ferrer went on to say that the county has applied for a variance that would allow more activities to reopen under the state plan and said they hoped to hear soon.

A "yes," she said, would then allow for "in-person dining at restaurants, again with some significant modifications, and the opening, with modifications, of hair salons and barbershops."

She said they'd be watching closely as significantly more people — millions, in fact — are out and about. But she said she believed spikes in infections and deaths can be avoided.

"If we all do this sensibly, we all do our part, we take care of each other, we wear our face cloth coverings, we keep our distance," she said, "it's possible for us to continue making progress on the recovery. We have every indication that this is a county where people do what's right, because that's the only way we got to where we are."

"I think it's hard now, as we move forward, for us to remember we still have to do what's right. But I think if we do what's right, we open carefully — and by that I mean we adhere to the protocols that are listed as conditions for the reopening — we stand a good chance like everybody else of continuing to make progress on slowing the spread. And that's why I'm in the game."

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Nearly 700 Inmates Will Be Transferred From Chino, The State Prison Hardest Hit By Coronavirus

Cramped quarters at the California Institution for Men in Chino show less than six feet of social distancing between bunks. (U.S. District Court filing)

Nearly 700 inmates at risk of contracting COVID-19 will be transferred from the California Institution for Men state prison in Chino and sent to 12 prisons around the state that are free of the virus.

The facility has been the hardest hit of any state prison, with more than 600 cases and nine deaths — the only coronavirus-related fatalities recorded so far at a state correctional institution.

The federal receiver who oversees the state prisons' medical system in a long-running court case ordered the transfer of 691 inmates who tested negative for the virus but whose medical histories would make a COVID-19 infection potentially life threatening.

As of Thursday, there were 3,303 inmates at the Chino prison.

The transfer order was revealed in a legal brief filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the Prison Law Office.

The filing said current policies have failed to prevent outbreaks in the prisons, so "it is imperative that vulnerable patients receive additional protection immediately."

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is determining where to send the inmates, and it anticipates that the transfers will begin by the end of this week, the brief said.


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LA Sheriff Resumes Stepped Up Patrols Of Asian American Churches

L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department is once again stepping up patrols of Asian American churches during the pandemic.

The increased patrols had started earlier this year. Then the stay-at-home orders pretty much closed churches down.

Now that houses of worship are getting the go-ahead to reopen, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said deputies will resume those patrols.

He made the announcement during an online forum about coronavirus-related hate crimes against Asian Americans.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about new challenges to law enforcement. Unfortunately, ignorant members of the community want to lay blame on our Asian American community after China was reported to be the epicenter of the new virus.”

Despite the concerns, so far the Sheriff’s Department has only recorded one COVID-19 related anti-Asian hate crime in L.A. County this year, according to Lt. Andrew Meyer of the Major Crimes Bureau -- although many have experienced such crimes, as LAist has reported.


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LA Venues Join National Movement To Avoid Closing Forever

OneWorld Comedy Night at Largo on April 29, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time Mark Flanagan, owner of the nightclub Largo at the Coronet Theater, has lived through tough political and economic times.

“I grew up in the '70s in Belfast, so this is not strange to me, to be in a lockdown,” he told KPCC’s Take Two. But three months after being one of the first businesses to close during the stay-at-home order, he estimates the Largo has lost about $300,000 in revenue. And his venue is far from the only one.

Flanagan is now one of the leaders behind the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which is trying to raise funding and build an assistance program for theaters and concert spaces around the country.

“My goal is to represent all venues, whether they’re well-known and famous, or not,” he said, “so if and when we reopen, we’re not hit with unsurmountable bills that would cripple us immediately.”

He points to the world-famous Troubadour, which announced earlier this month that it’s in danger of closing and set up a GoFundMe page.

John Mulaney, Nasim Pedrad, Seaton Smith and Zack Pearlman at the "Mulaney" Premiere Event at Largo at the Coronet on September 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for FOX)

NIVA’s goal is to encourage fans to donate to their local theaters and concert halls, in addition to asking their lawmakers to include venues in upcoming relief packages.

But Flanagan says even with the help, it might not be until after a vaccine is developed, that he’s willing to reopen his own club’s doors. “I don’t want to risk any customer or any performer,” he said, noting the possibility of the virus making a resurgence in the fall.

Largo has been a top spot to see stand-up comedy since the mid-90s; some of the performers who have graced the stage includel John Mulaney, Ali Wong and Zach Galifianakis, among many others.


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LA Area Malls Are Starting To Reopen

People walk in a mostly empty The Grove shopping center Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Stores can now open at 50% capacity. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Malls across L.A. County are reopening this week after Mayor Eric Garcetti's Tuesday announcement that in-person retail can now resume at 50% capacity.

At least 13 stores will open today at the Citadel Outlet in Commerce, one of the county's largest outdoor malls. The shopping center prepared for the reopening with plans for frequent sanitizing and physical distancing.

The Citadel in Commerce reopened May 28 for in-person shopping. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Clara Tsang, a spokesperson for the Citadel, said the mall managers are "making sure all tables, all benches, even our bathroom sinks are placed 6-feet apart for everyone."

Retail employees will be required to wear gloves — and even face shields — when interacting with customers. They'll also have to go through daily temperature checks before clocking-in for their shift.

People wearing face masks walk around Citadel Outlets on their first day of reopening. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Westfield Malls won't be far behind. Westfield Century City will be the first to open its doors this Saturday, May 30. The Westfields in Culver City, Santa Anita, Sherman Oaks, Topanga, and Valencia will follow shortly after, reopening on June 3.

Hours at the Westfield malls will be limited though:

  • 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays
  • Noon to 6 p.m on Sundays.

Mall employees will follow county and state guidelines, which require face coverings and social distancing.

The Glendale Galleria opens today.

Hours are:

  • 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday
  • Noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays

The Galleria will have newly installed hand-sanitizing stations, touch-free purchasing options, "frequent and intense cleanings" and social distancing directions. The food court seating will remain closed, as per rules on sit-down dining, but take-out is an option. Here is a list of the mall's open stores.

At the Caruso shopping centers, including The Americana and The Grove, stores are reopening on a case-by-case basis.

We think shopping now will be just like the below gif, except Cher would be wearing a face mask and (maybe) not smiling, but who would be able to tell?


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HBO Max Releases Controversial Russell Simmons Documentary

Sexual Assault Survivor Drew Dixon attends the 2020 Sundance Film Festival - "On The Record" Premiere at The Marc Theatre on January 25, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

If you know anything about the new documentary On The Record, it’s that it’s about sexual assault allegations against hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and that Oprah Winfrey was once involved. Both of those things are true but that’s not the whole story.

The movie focuses on three of Simmons’ accusers (the media mogul was accused of rape by three women), but it’s also about the dilemma that many black women find themselves in, when choosing between protecting black men – who are notoriously mistreated by the law – and speaking out about sexual abuse.

Oprah was initially signed on as an executive producer for the film, but she dropped out days before its Sundance debut.

She told CBS News that she was not bowing to pressure by Simmons and that she believes the women. But her departure was devastating to Drew Dixon, the former Def Jam Records producer at the center of On The Record. She told KPCC/LAist:

“It was terrifying to go to Sundance not knowing if the people [there] would be the only people who would ever see this film, and [that] we would be misunderstood as survivors by our community because no one would ever get to see that this film was really meant to lift up black women who love black men– not to tear anyone down.”

When the film got rave reviews at Sundance and a deal with HBO, Dixon found she didn’t need to “hide behind Oprah”.

But when asked whether or not Oprah Winfrey failed her, Dixon had this to say:

“Oprah Winfrey disappointed me but I don’t know that she was in a position to fail me, because she’s not responsible for me… I certainly would never question the obligations she has to consider when making her choices.”

On The Record is now streaming on HBO's new streaming platform, HBO Max, which launched yesterday.

Hear the full conversation with Drew Dixon and filmmaker Amy Ziering here:

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Your Gym-Yoga-Spin Place Isn't Opening This Week Or Probably Next

Muscle Beach's closed gymnasium in Venice. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The state’s 4,000 fitness businesses have been closed since mid-March, putting much of their 180,000-person workforce on reduced hours, furlough or out of work. Fitness club owners are frustrated that state reopening rules and dates are not yet firmed up.

In an online meeting Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would release fitness industry guidelines for reopening in another week or so.

The guidelines will cover necessary cleaning and physical distancing requirements. Counties may adopt or adapt the guidelines and then decide the date when gyms, yoga studios, health clubs and other fitness businesses may reopen.


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Will Wall Street Buy Up Homes During Recession?

A large banner advertising open apartments hangs on the walls of a large multi unit apartment building in Koreatown. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on and the news about the economy gets bleaker, California elected officials are worried about the impacts on housing.

State, local and national politicans have said they don’t want real estate speculators and large corporate landlords to swoop in and drive down homeownership, in a repeat of the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Those "corporate landlords" have transormed the rental market in profound ways in recent years.


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With Delivery Rooms Restricted, Expectant Moms Turn To Virtual Support

Doula work relies heavily on in-person relationships, but like other doulas, Monique Cowan has shifted to working with clients remotely. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Monique Cowan, a doula from Hawaiian Gardens, showed up at L.A. County-USC Medical Center in mid-March expecting to help her client navigate a preterm birth.

Instead she ended up phoning into the delivery room from the lobby outside the hospital pharmacy.

Delivering doula services remotely is just one way the coronavirus pandemic is changing the process of birth. Many hospitals are limiting delivery rooms to one support person, often the birth mother’s partner.

Doulas like Cowan have had to become accustomed to coaching their clients from home, using video chats to show apprehensive husbands how to massage their laboring wives and explaining birth procedures.

She works primarily with expecting African American mothers and babies who are at a disproportionately high risk for serious injury or death related to pregnancy. Coronavirus is complicating her clients’ existing concerns.

“The worry for me with them is that their fear and their anxiety will have them isolate themselves more postpartum,” Cowan said. “You need people.”



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Morning Briefing: The Real Impact Of The Coronavirus

Pedestrians wearing face masks walk across a busy street in Boyle Heights. (Chava Sanchez / LAist)

Never miss a morning briefing. Subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

In L.A. County, 2,151 people have died from the coronavirus. In her story about a family that has been ravaged by the disease, Josie Huang turned that number into much more than a statistic.

Arlene Aquino was a nurse at Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City who immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines a decade ago. She’d recently moved her family – grandparents, kids and all – into a house together. But just over a week ago, her father passed away from the disease. Arlene died a week later, and her mother is clinging to life on a ventilator.

The deaths leave Arlene’s children on their own, with her 22-year-old daughter likely to become Arlene’s 11-year-old son’s guardian.

This is the reality of COVID-19 – not numbers, not statistics, but the stories of people and families.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, May 28

California politicians are worried Wall Street will swoop in and buy up single-family housing, just like they did after the 2008 financial crisis. Aaron Mendelson has the story.

The way people give birth is changing during coronavirus, reports Mariana Dale. Prenatal doctor’s visits might be less frequent and done via telehealth, hospitals are limiting the number of people in the room when a baby is born, doulas are trying to figure out how to support parents virtually and researchers are looking into how all this added stress is impacting parents psychologically.

Backlash to Mayor Garcetti's new city budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 has spurred some activists to call for a "people's budget" that spares more social services, reports Libby Denkmann, especially since police and fire unions recently got raises.

Gov. Gavin Newsom met online today with gym owners whose businesses have been shut down for months. He said guidelines for reopening health clubs would come out in about a week. But for some owners, that’s not soon enough. Sharon McNary has more.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now 47,936 coronavirus cases and 2,151 deaths in L.A. County, and at least 101,031 cases and 3,894 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are more than 5.6 million cases and over 354,000 deaths.

Protesting Police Violence: At least one person was injured as people flooded the streets of DTLA to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

California Kids: School may be out indefinitely for L.A. kids, but Mayor Eric Garcetti told KPCC’s Take Two that he’s looking into a way to use federal funds to reopen recreation centers for childcare. A task force of 25 district leaders developed a framework for reopening L.A. County schools in the 2020-21 academic year.

Helping Hands (And Vehicles): Some house-bound RV owners, unable to go on road trips, are finding new ways to help out frontline workers. A no-panic guide to local mental health resources. County officials have asked the coroner to offer wider coronavirus testing of people who've died recently.

Reopening California: After a two-month pause, the Orange County Sheriff is resuming evictions. L.A. salon owners aren’t happy about being excluded from reopening.

SoCal, This Is Your Government: A former aide to an L.A. City Councilmember has agreed to a plea deal, the latest in the city hall corruption probe. Officials in Santa Barbara County left out incarcerated people in their count of coronavirus cases in order to reopen faster. Californians in Congress are leading efforts to get Census 2020 deadlines extended.

Money Matters: A fund to help L.A. tenants struggling to pay rent during the pandemic started out with a couple million bucks, but it could receive a big infusion of cash.

A Family’s Tragedy: COVID-19 has torn apart the family of Panorama City nurse Arlene Aquino, who died from the virus along with her father and whose mother clings to life on a ventilator.

Your Moment Of Zen

Visual journalist Chava Sanchez captured this musician serenading people waiting for food pick-up near a restaurant in Boyle Heights.

(Chava Sanchez / LAist )

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