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California May Ask Voters Whether To Restore Affirmative Action In Government, Universities

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Published
Students sit around the Bruin Bear statue on the campus of UCLA. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

California voters would be asked to overturn a state ban on affirmative action at government agencies and universities, under a plan from state legislators that passed the state Assembly this afternoon.

More than two-thirds of the Assembly voted for Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, which gained momentum after the police killing of George Floyd sparked a national conversation on systemic racism.

“I’m so grateful I didn’t have to convince you that racism is real, because George Floyd did that,” said the bill's sponsor Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, according to the Associated Press.

The amendment next heads to the Senate, also controlled by Democrats, for approval by June 25.

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DACA Recipients In LA Brace For Supreme Court Decision

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DACA recipient Christine Park, 27, demonstrates in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of Christine Park)

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of this month on the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. The Obama-era program gives temporary protection from deportation to roughly 650,000 young unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. President Trump rescinded DACA in 2017, but his action was blocked by lower courts.

For DACA recipients like Christine Park, amid the pandemic, police brutality and recent protests, the prospect of losing one's work permit and facing deportation is too much.

“I'm not gonna lie to you, I have not been coping well,” said Park, who arrived from South Korea at age 10.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Mayor Garcetti Says He Does Not Support The People's Budget But Is 'Listening'

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This still image taken from a live stream provided by the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti shows Garcetti displaying putting on a protective face mask during his daily news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 1. (Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took the City Hall stage today to address the protests for racial justice, as well as to give an update on the city's response to the coronavirus.

THE PROTESTS

The mayor referred to the protests as a "turning point for our country," pointing to a few minor changes that have been made in the wake of nation-wide protests against police brutality, like LAPD ending the use of the carotid hold (a type of "sleeper hold").

According to the L.A. Times, "when employing a carotid hold, an officer puts pressure on the carotid arteries to slow or block blood flow. If applied correctly, the person can fall unconscious. But it can also lead to injury or death."

Garcetti said the Police Commission will "continue to reform the department to ensure officers build and don't break trust with communities," citing the 58 ongoing investigations of officer misconduct during the protests. He said he was "very troubled' by what he saw in some of those videos. He added that seven officers have been taken off field-duty (which is different from suspension).

He also thanked people for sharing more "positive videos" of LAPD officers:

"There are moments where officers sat down and talked to folks, took a knee. We need to have both sides of the story. The first piece and accountability, and we need to make sure that we also realize the exhaustion that folks [police officers] have out there and the service that they've given to us. And I don't think that we have to choose between those two."

The mayor added that he deplores racism and expects that "justice will be served," but cannot speak about any specific investigations at this time.

Garcetti also said that he fully supports the legislative package put forward by the California Legislative Black Caucus.

He said he does not support the People's Budget, but he did not directly answer questions about whether or not he supports defunding or restructuring the police department in the near future. He said he believes $150 million is not enough to address all of the issues.

"If we're not re-prioritizing, we're not meeting the moment," he said. "I agree with the sentiment that this is just a start, and my promise to people is, we have to think about reimagining public safety, but we have to do that carefully, boldly. At the same time, we have to do that in an inclusive way so that our officers don't shoulder things like mental health and homelessness disproportionately, but those conversations have to be done in a way that is backed up by numbers."

In a response to a question about whether he would consider eliminating the use of rubber bullets by LAPD officers, Garcetti said he would like to see them "not used as much as possible," but that there are moments when police do need them, like when bottles or bricks are thrown at them. He referenced one police officer who he said "nearly lost his life with a cracked skull" at the protests. He said he would ask the Police Commission for specific advice on this issue.

Garcetti also implored those who attended protests to get free coronavirus tests and consider quarantining for two weeks. He said he personally got tested after taking a knee at one last week.

CORONAVIRUS REOPENINGS

Garcetti said that the recent reopenings make him "nervous." He expressed concern over people forgetting about how serious the threat of COVID-19 is.

He said the infection rate peaked early on in the crisis (when each infected person was getting three more people sick). Through our efforts to flatten the curve, that number went down to one. But now it's a little higher, around 1.3.

The mayor said though, that despite his concern, he has confidence in the Department of Public Health. The city has also recruited at least 300 new "supplemental contact tracers" -- city employees from other departments like parks and libraries, who will help the county health department with contact tracing efforts during this time.

He said he is particularly nervous about opening gyms and would like more notice from the state on changes in guidelines, but he said he does feel the need to be consistent with neighboring areas:

"If you hold back one city, people can just go next door and work out and go next door to restaurants. So the public health impact is that a region really does need to move together, that if Orange County is doing different than L.A. County, if Santa Monica is doing different than Pomona, these are places where people will interact with each other."

The mayor added that our hospital data (admissions and capacity) is steady, but he'd "like to see our deaths go down."

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Long Beach Follows LA County In Reopening Gyms, Museums, Hotels And More This Friday

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Long Beach will follow Los Angeles County's direction and allow gyms, museums, day camps, hotels, and other businesses to reopen this Friday.

The decision comes as health officials continue to track coronavirus cases. To date in Long Beach:

  • 103 people have died
  • More than 2,400 cases have been confirmed

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia says they're also keeping watch on the city's hospitalization rate, slowly increasing over the past two weeks.

"But we also know that we have plenty of room in our hospitals, and we have plenty of ventilators, and we have the ability to take more if there ends up being a surge of need in our hospitals -- we know we have that capacity, which we're thankful for. But we really also want people to be safe."

As of today, 80 people are hospitalized — down from a peak of 105 hospitalizations Memorial Day weekend.

OVERALL LOOK AT LA COUNTY NUMBERS

Here's a look at longer-term trends in the county. To see more visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose L.A. County or any other California county that interests you. These numbers are current as of Tuesday, June 9:

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Disneyland Wants To Reopen July 17, If Orange County And California Let Them

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Mickey's getting ready to welcome you back to Disneyland (but no touching). (Courtesy Disneyland Resort)

As California begins the reopening process, Disneyland has put its flag in the ground: Disney says they intend to reopen the theme park on July 17, it announced Wednesday.

Both the state and Orange County still need to approve the plan, but if they do, Disneyland and California Adventure would reopen Friday, July 17 — the 65th anniversary of the park's debut.

Capacity will be significantly limited, according to a Disney press release, due to both governmental requirements and the need to promote physical distancing. Administrators will be managing attendance at the park with a new reservation system, with all guests — yes, even you, Annual Passholders — required to make a reservation for entrance. New tickets and annual passes aren't being sold as the park sets up this new system.

They'll be no parades or other "nighttime spectaculars" right now, according to Disney, due to large crowds — so say goodbye for the moment to events like the World of Color and Fantasmic. The park is also shutting down character meet-and-greets, though the characters will be in the parks "in new ways." The touch-starved out there will have to wait a little longer for a hug from Mickey, for now.

"While certain aspects of your visit may change, I assure you the quality of our storytelling, magic of our experiences and the caliber of our cast members has not," Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro said in a statement.

He notes that the team has been working on reopening for months, and has seen high guest satisfaction since reopening their Shanghai park in China. Disney promises enhanced health and safety measures, as well as customer service representatives to be on hand throughout the parks and Downtown Disney to answer questions about new policies. The theme park promises that their enhanced safety will apply to staff, too.

Shoppers will be able to get a taste of Disney a week earlier, with Downtown Disney reopening July 9. The neighboring Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Paradise Pier Hotel are set to reopen July 23.

This video shows how safety will be handled at Disney's hotels:

"It’s time for magic – and we look forward to welcoming you back," Disney said in its release.

But will people want to go back to theme parks, before a vaccine is available? We'll have to wait and see.

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Off-Duty LAPD Cop Violated Policy In Fatal Costco Shooting

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The Costco in Corona. (Courtesy of NBC4)

The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled today that an off-duty LAPD officer violated policy when he shot and killed an unarmed and intellectually disabled man last June in a Corona Costco.

The commission agreed with LAPD Chief Michel Moore’s determination that Officer Salvador Sanchez had no justification for shooting 32-year-old Kenneth French and wounding both of his parents on June 14. Sanchez opened fire after French hit him in the back of the head while the officer was standing in a food-tasting line holding his 18-month-old son.

The chief’s report to the commission noted that Sanchez had claimed to the department’s Use of Force Review Board that he believed he had been shot and that French had a black handgun in his right hand. The Review Board said it couldn’t find any information that would support Sanchez’ contention: no other witnesses saw a handgun, and no objects were recovered from the scene that resembled a firearm.

In addition, the Review Board was presented evidence that French was moving away from Sanchez at about the time the officer opened fire.

It’s now up to Moore to decide on what level of discipline to impose on Sanchez.

The case garnered widespread attention; it was later determined that Sanchez started shooting less than four seconds after French struck him, firing 10 shots. Besides fatally wounding French, Sanchez shot French’s father Russell once in the back. Another bullet struck French’s mother Paola, who spent more than a week in a coma.

READ THE FULL STORY:

Hollywood Gets Health Department Green Light To Resume Production

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Sony Picture Studios halted film and TV production amid the Coronavirus outbreak. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Nearly two weeks ago, Hollywood industry leaders issued recommendations for what a safe film and TV set might look like when production resumes, after being shut down by the coronavirus pandemic for over two months.

Late last week, state officials announced that filming coud resume as soon as this weekend, if local authorities approved.

That last piece fell into place Wednesday, when the L.A. County Department of Public Health gave Hollywood a green light to start the cameras rolling again as soon as Friday June 12.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said safety guidelines for film sets would be released Thursday June 11.

But even if the tens of thousands of local unemployed crew members, actors and filmmakers decide they're ready to get back to work, it likely won’t happen until uniform, industry-wide protocols are in place.

And, like every show business deal, all of it will involve a heavy dose of negotiation.

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LA County Gyms, Hotels, Museums And More Can Begin Reopening Friday. Here's What We Know So Far

Updated
Published

Los Angeles County officials announced a new phase of reopenings can begin this Friday, June 12.

The businesses and settings can reopen to the public “once they implement the required protocols for infection control and distancing,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, speaking at a regular update of the county's coronavirus task force via remote live stream (which you can replay above).

The following types of businesses in L.A. County will be allowed to open Friday if they are following the county health guidelines:

  • Gyms and fitness facilities
  • Professional sports arenas without live audiences
  • Day camps
  • Museums
  • Art galleries
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Campgrounds, RV parks and outdoor recreation, including swimming pools
  • Music, film and television production
  • Hotels for leisure travel

Health protocols for each setting will be available on the department's website, officials said.

TOO MUCH TOO SOON?

A few reporters listening in to today's briefing asked versions of the same question: Are county officials moving too fast without a sense of how the reopenings so far will affect the transmission rate? Given the incubation period of the virus, it can take a couple weeks before the viral load is high enough to show up on a test — or lead to symptoms.

Ferrer reitereated that mass gatherings are still prohibited — except for public demonstrations and in houses of worship — and all social distancing and face covering guidelines still apply. She also noted that, even as confirmed cases and deaths continue to climb, county officials are keeping tabs on the hospitalization rate as a gauge for how reopening is going. She said:

"A month ago, we were hovering at about 1,800 people in the hospital every day. Today and for most of this week we've been about... 1,450 people in the hospital every day. So these, again, are signs that, while we have more cases, it's not necessarily resulting in a dramatic increase in hospitalizations, which again, would be a sign for major concern for us, but we're going to have to watch the data really carefully going forward."

NAIL SALONS ARE STILL CLOSED

One particular business was not on today's list: nail salons.

Asked why these businesses are still not allowed to reopen, Ferrer explained that nail salons are still barred from reopening statewide, and California's Department of Public Health hasn't issued official guidance for how that can be done at the county level.

BY THE NUMBERS

Los Angeles County officials reported 1,275 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 67,064 cases countywide. In total, 2,396 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 1,008 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

Ferrer also reported 61 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 2,768 people.

So far, 93% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.

The death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County continues to climb. Ferrer reported that 1,458 residents at those facilities have died, and 90% lived in nursing homes.

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 2,569 of the victims:

  • 12% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 17% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 41% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 28% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • “Slightly less than” 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander [0.4% of county residents]
  • 1% identified as belonging to another race or ethnicity

OVERALL LOOK AT LA COUNTY NUMBERS:

Here's a look at longer-term trends in the county. To see more visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose L.A. County or any other California county that interests you. These numbers are current as of Tuesday, June 9:

Note, again, that although cases are climbing, the county says hospitalizations have remained relatively flat.

TESTING AT NURSING HOMES

Ferrer reported that, as of Tuesday, 272 skilled nursing facilities in the county have tested all residents and staff. Another 43 facilities "are scheduled or in the process of conducting testing," she said, which would complete initial testing at all 315 nursing homes operating in L.A. County — excluding facilities in Long Beach and Pasadena.

So far, over 25,000 people who live or work in those facilities have been tested, and 7% tested positive for COVID-19. The majority of those positive tests (83%) did not show symptoms of the virus.

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MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Sepulveda Fire In Bel Air Burns 50 Acres; Containment At 25%

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The Sepulveda Fire burns in the hills of Bel Air near the 405 Freeway on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (Courtesy Erik Scott/LAFD via Twitter)

A brush fire broke out just after midnight in the hills of Bel Air and had burned an estimated 50 acres by early Wednesday. As of 8:30 a.m., the blaze was 25% contained, according to Los Angeles Fire Department officials.

The Sepulveda Fire started near Sepulveda Boulevard in the burn scar of the Skirball Fire. Video from the scene hearkened back to famous footage from 2017's fire.

No structures are currently threatened and no evacuation orders are in place, according to fire officials. The 405 remains open in both directions, but the off-ramps to Getty Center Drive and Sepulveda Boulevard are closed, according to the California Highway Control.

More than 200 firefighters are battling the early-morning blaze. With help from water-dropping helicopters, crews have been able to get a jump on the fire.

"We flanked both sides where we had firefighters rush up these steep, steep hills to be able to pinch this fire together to minimize it from spreading up these canyons, and we certainly utilized our aircraft to take the heat out of the head of the fire," LAFD spokesperson Erik Scott told KPCC/LAist this morning.

Scott said conditions are hot and dry, but the fire is primarily terrain-driven thanks to minimal-to-moderate wind.
The fire is considered a "dirty burn," said LAFD spokesperson Margaret Stewart, meaning there's a mix of burned, unburned and partially burned vegetation within its footprint. Firefighters are working three sides of the fire "through the steep, difficult terrain to complete the fire line and increase containment," she said.

Two firefighters were treated at the scene for non-life-threatening injuries, fire officials said. The cause of the fire remains under active investigation.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

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Morning Briefing: Change Keeps Coming To LA

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At the Hollywood protest Sunday, Lilliana (L) said: "I'm not surprised to see so many young people out here fighting for a difference." (Robert Garrova / LAist)

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

In the wake of two weeks of massive protests against systemic racism and police brutality, change keeps rolling in to L.A. at a rate that I’m finding both surprising and encouraging. For instance: L.A. District Atty. Jackie Lacey filed felony assault charges against an LAPD officer for beating a trespassing suspect, less than one week after she received the case – an unprecedented turnaround for her office.

At the same time, L.A. County Supervisors backed a statewide ban on certain types of neck holds used by law enforcement. Angelenos of all stripes are showing up to support Black-owned businesses, and nearly 9,500 rooms have been provided to homeless Californians.

Want more? L.A. Metro laid out its vision for transportation in 2050. It’s less Jetsons and more common sense (like making public transit safer for women and more accessible to all), but still, progress is coming at us — let’s keep the pressure on.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, June 10

After a fire at the restaurant Mozza, Mike Roe talks with a server there who has been doing a Mozza-themed comedy show on Twitch with other staff.

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Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the results of the 2020 Los Angeles County homeless count would be released on Wednesday. The results will be released on Friday, June 12.


The Past 24 Hours In LA

The Future Of L.A.: We hear the stories of the class of 2020, which is graduating into a global pandemic, a shaky economy and a flashpoint moment highlighting police brutality and systemic inequality. L.A. Metro has outlined its vision for the future of transportation – think 2050 – in a draft plan now available for public comment.

Policing The Police: Less than a week after getting the case from the LAPD, District Atty. Jackie Lacey filed felony assault charges against an officer who beat a man suspected of trespassing in Boyle Heights. The L.A. Supervisors backed a statewide ban on the carotid restraint.

California Kids: Gov. Gavin Newsom has often mentioned the more than 400 pop-up child care centers established in California since the start of the coronavirus, but the majority of emergency child care waivers were granted to existing child care centers and homes.

Supporting Our Neighbors: Amid the protests that have taken over L.A.'s streets these past few weeks, there's been a social media push to support the city's Black-owned restaurants. Thousands of homeless Californians have found shelter in hotel rooms through Project Roomkey, Gov. Newsom’s ambitious plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now what?

Coronavirus In Numbers: There are now 65,945 coronavirus cases and 2,710 deaths in L.A. County, and at least 134,802 cases and 4,678 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are more than 7.1 million cases and over 408,000 deaths. Here’s an overview of current coronavirus cases and trends in L.A., Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. While much of L.A. County was sheltering in place, infections spiked in communities of color, with an especially dramatic spike among Latinos.

How To Stay Busy: The Latin Alternative Music Conference opens its sessions to all, Love 2 Love You moves online for Pride Month, and more virtual and IRL events for this week. Your local multiplex might be reopening as soon as this Friday -- even if there are hardly any new films coming out.

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