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Amid All The Racism, Coronavirus, And Hurt, Finding Self-Care In... Pie

(Illustration By Chava Sanchez/Images Via Unsplash)

At first it was the pandemic. Then it was the killing of George Floyd by police. Then the protests, in which people got hurt -- including reporters who were shot with rubber bullets, tear-gassed, hit by batons, even detained just for doing their jobs.

After writing about all this for weeks, LAist columnist Erick Galindo had to get out of town. He got in the car and began driving south -- until he got to Julian, a tiny town in the mountains east of San Diego where they grow apples and make pie.

More than pie, I needed to get away to recenter myself. Because as difficult as it feels sometimes and as tired as I am, I feel an obligation to highlight the beauty and strength of L.A.'s most invisible communities. And for some reason, I've been granted a platform to do it. But that's not something I can do if I'm broken.



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As Homelessness Numbers Rise, Some Are Losing Patience With Politicians

A homeless encampment at City Hall in Los Angeles, March 24. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

In previous years, politicians have said it will just take a little more time for increased spending on homelessness to make a difference on the streets.

Robin Petering, who holds a doctorate in social work and runs Lens Co, a policy advocacy organization, is losing her patience.

“Two years after double digit increases, how can we have any trust in our electeds that that won’t continue to happen?" she said.

Petering works largely with youth and young adults who are homeless, or about to be. She says America's social safety net is threadbare, and that there's little public assistance to offer people before they become homeless. They only receive services once they’ve lost their home.

“We see that the homelessness system becomes the entrypoint for many,” she said.

But looking forward, even that homeless system is facing uncertainty, because it relies on sales tax revenue, which is dropping.

“We’ve already been told that the Measure H dollars going forward are going to be drastically reduced,” she said. (In March 2017, voters approved Measure H, which calls for a ¼ percent increase to the County’s sales tax to provide ongoing revenue for homelessness programs.)

That means a lot of uncertainty. Experts say the pandemic and associated recession might send thousands more to the street.


SoCal's Homeless Crisis Is Accelerating. Here Are The 2020 Numbers

Garcetti: LA Has Made Progress On Homelessness Issue, Despite Increasing Numbers


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti acknowledged tonight that the results from the county's latest homeless count are not good, but he asked listeners to remember that the numbers were gathered in January, before many homeless people were housed as part of COVID-19 efforts like Project Roomkey.

"One of the only silver linings I can find in our COVID-19 crisis is that the federal government stepped up and said we could begin to house people with federal reimbursement for three quarters of this and hotels and motel rooms in shelters," Garcetti said during one of his semi-regular addresses on the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic. "We could take more people off the streets more quickly than we ever have before. And that's exactly what we're doing."

But he also said L.A. still doesn't have enough affordable housing.

The latest count, released today, found a 13.6% increase in homelessness in the city of Los Angeles and a 12.7% increase across the county.

"I've been working on this problem since I was 14 years old," Garcetti said, adding that he used to volunteer on Skid Row.

"With FEMA dollars we've placed more than 3,700 of our most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness into 35 hotels and motels across the county," he said.

He said this year we will spend $430 million on homeless services.

He also said the city has more shelter beds for homeless residents than ever before. Rec centers are now housing 1,300 people and nearly 300 high risk people experiencing homelessness are now being housed in trailers provided by the state.

"All Together we've brought nearly 6,000 people indoors during COVID-19 response. And now our goal must be to make sure they don't go back outdoors," he said.

Garcetti said that today he wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California to extend the moratorium on evictions, so that more people do not fall into homelessness as a result of the current economic recession.

Heidi Marston, director of LAHSA, joined the mayor to discuss the results of the homeless count, saying that the numbers are "unacceptably high." She added that the number of Black Angelenos experiencing homelessness are disproportionate to the population (9% of the county's population and 33% of homeless population):

"I want to be very clear that homelessness is a byproduct of racism. We continue to see that Black people are overrepresented in our homeless population, and that Black African Americans are four times more likely to become homeless than their White counterparts."


Garcetti urged Angelenos not to give up or forget about protecting against the coronavirus. He said he's heard from some people who just can't take it anymore and are tired of social distancing and wearing masks. He said we must stay vigilant:

"Remember when we hit 100,000 deaths in America, just a few weeks ago? By the end of September, we'll have 200,000 deaths. Think about all the pain and suffering that we experienced at this point. In essence, they're projecting [this number] may very likely double. We need to be prepared to do everything we can to keep those numbers down while we await a permanent solution, whether it's a therapeutical intervention or a vaccine."

He reminded listeners that gyms, fitness centers, museums, aquariams, hotels and day camps (and their pools) are allowed to reopen today. He urged business owners to make their own decisions and not feel pressure to open right away.

He also said anyone who goes to protests should get a free COVID-19 test.

If you test positive, you should expect a call from the L.A. County Public Health Dept. -- they will start the process of contact tracing. The mayor said they will not ask about immigration status or report it. They just want to know who you have been in contact with.

"There are also scammers out there doing fake contact tracing, so please remember that official contact traces will never ask you for your status -- your immigration status and social security number -- or for money. Those are all signs that this is a scam," he said.

He said the number of cases in L.A. County is increasing partially because of increased testing, but the numbers are still "sobering."

"Two weeks in a row where we've added 10,000 diagnosed positive cases," he added.


The new Commission on Civil and Human Rights met for the first time this week, the mayor said. The commissioners are unpaid civilians "who have stepped up to this moment."

"We have to change how we spend public dollars and how LAPD officers engage with communities they're sworn to protect and serve, we have to ensure we open more doors to more people with opportunities," he added.

In reponse to the criticism he's received about the curfews, National Guard, and general handling of last week's protests, Garcetti had this to say:

"It's tough as a human being, but it's necessary as a leader. In terms of what we did, I think there's so much that Los Angeles can be proud of. And I never claimed singular credit for that, I'm just the mayor... This is a moment I've been waiting for. But my whole life has been dedicated to greater human rights and economic opportunity. It's why I pursued a path that's -- I knew would never be easy, but -- absolutely necessary."

He said there is plenty to review about how he handled the protests, but he is too busy dealing with how to reframe the budget right now.

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FilmWeek: Our Reviews Of 'The King of Staten Island,' 'Da 5 Bloods,' 'Artemis Fowl' And More Movies You Can Stream From Home

Bel Powley and Pete Davidson in "The King of Staten Island" (Alison Cohen Rosa/Universal Pictures)

Every week, Larry Mantle, who also hosts our newsroom's longtime public affairs show AirTalk, and KPCC film critics spend an hour talking about new films.

This week, Amy Nicholson and Claudia Puig join Larry to review this weekend’s new movie releases and share some of their recommendations:

“The King of Staten Island”

  • Available on digital (iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, FandangoNOW, Vudu, YouTube, Spectrum, DirecTV)

Amy had this to say:

“This is really a great selling point movie for Pete Davidson as a leading man. He’s really charismatic, he’s really funny, and he’s not a comedian that I think can get shoehorned into an easy-answer, happy kind of comedy the way that Judd Apatow wants to do. So there’s a really fascinating push-pull in the center of this where Pete Davidson almost breaks out of the Judd Apatow template and makes a movie that feels interesting on its own.”

“Da 5 Bloods”

  • Available on Netflix

Claudia says:

“This movie could not be more timely and relevant. It feels almost prophetic coming as it is right now... and many of us are expressly looking for films about the black experience... so this navigates this inflection point, and it’s also a look at systemic racism. It’s a continued reminder that [Spike Lee] is a really vital filmmaker and it’s a strong follow-up to BlackKklansman, which won the Best Adapted Screenplay [Oscar] in 2019. I like that it’s illuminating, fascinating; it’s not didactic. There’s some fantastic performances. Delroy Lindo is excellent.”

“Artemis Fowl”

  • Available on Disney +

Here’s Amy’s review:

“This is just another gigantic, focus-tested-to-death, splashy kids special effects movie that feels test-marketed to death and very weak and kind of a flop. I mean, I guess if you have kids, this will kill 90 minutes. It’s very hard to sit through. It wows me that there’s films that supposedly have all this imagination and feel just as trite and rote as everything in the Disney canon lately.”

“The Surrogate”

Claudia’s review:

“I like this film. It’s a small, kind of micro-budgeted film and it’s really all about the performance of Jasmine Batchelor...and it’s just wonderfully anchored by her performance. It’s very naturalistic. I love that it’s never moralistic. It just looks at all the angles and all the ramifications of a pregnancy where you learn there could be unexpected conditions. There’s no histrionics, there’s no preaching. It’s perceptive. It’s absorbing.”

Listen above to hear more in-depth reviews of these films and more:



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How Coronavirus Forced These Small Businesses To Pivot

Sam Moaven, owner of Frame 2000. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

For the past three months, I've been following small business owners along a stretch of Lincoln Blvd. in Venice as they try to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

I picked this stretch because it seemed to have a little bit of everything: a dry cleaner, a fabric store, a gas station, an artisanal ice cream shop.

This week, as more stores in Los Angeles County are reopening, I checked back in with some business owners, and found their entrepreneurial spirit keeping them afloat.


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They're Hoping To Make #OscarsSoWhite A Thing Of The Past

The Academy of Motion Pictures announced changes aimed at making the awards more diverse and inclusive. Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science said today it is amending its rules to help make Oscar eligibility more inclusive. One way is through a new mandate that 10 movies be nominated for best picture every year, starting with the 2022 ceremony.

The idea is that by casting a guaranteed wider net, smaller movies might have a better chance of being shortlisted. This year, for example, nine films were nominated for best picture, and several movies with Black themes were excluded, including "The Last Black Man in San Francisco" and "Clemency."

Following years of criticism over the demographics of its voters (predominantly older white men), and the lack of diversity among its nominees (yielding the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite), the academy has expanded its membership dramatically to include hundreds more voters who are women and non-white. It is calling its new initiative "Academy Aperture 2025."


Academy Makes Changes Aimed At Making Oscar Less White

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LA's Black Surfers Protest From Their Boards

Photo by Matthew Reamer

Black Girls Surf, a group that promotes surfing among girls and women of color, organized their own protest from the water last week.

A paddle-out is an ancient Hawaiin ritual where surfers form a circle with their boards in the water, maybe offer a prayer or token as a way of honoring the memory of someone who has passed.

On June 6, the paddlers offered yellow roses to honor Floyd.

The local surfing community is majority white, said Sayuri Blondt, the head of the L.A. and SoCal chapter of Black Girls Surf. So it felt significant for Black women to organize an event within a community that hasn't always included them.


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#JusticeForRobertFuller Is Trending. The LA Sheriff’s Department Says His Death Was Probably A Suicide

Photo shared by Diamond Alexander on a GoFundMe page set up in Robert Fuller's memory.

The body of 24-year-old Robert Fuller was found hanging from a tree earlier this week in a park near Palmdale City Hall, according to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

All signs right now lead us to believe this was a suicide,” said Lt. Brandon Dean with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Palmdale station. “But the investigation is not closed.”

Speculation is spreading on social media that Fuller may have been the victim of a hate crime, and that authorities are covering it up.


What Can I Say? 'Thanks. I Hate It.'

(Chava Sanchez/Austin Cross for LAist)

Our newsroom's Austin Cross continues to reflect on the lessons he learned from his father about how to stay safe as a Black man growing up in the U.S.:

"I'm chagrined to report that his time-tested philosophies remain alive and well in me. It's like the inheritance I never wanted, but also kind of need every day. It was delivered in pieces over the course of 30 years with no receipt. What can I say? Thanks. I hate it."



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Some Chinese Parents Want To Defeat Affirmative Action In California Again. It Could Prove Harder This Time

Some Chinese parents are fighting a plan to bring back affirmative action to California's public universities. (Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/LAist)

Affirmative action has long been a divisive issue among Asian Americans, and a vocal minority of mostly Chinese-born activists is pushing to defeat an effort to restore affirmative action to California’s public universities and state agencies. But it might prove diffucult for them, as the effort has gained steam amid the Black Lives Matter movement.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 passed the Assembly on Wednesday and is expected to clear the Senate this month in time to be placed on the November ballot. The initiative would repeal an affirmative-action ban that was set when voters approved Proposition 209 more than two decades ago.


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Confirmed Coronavirus Cases In LA County Top 70K; More Than 2,800 Deaths Reported

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

Los Angeles County officials reported 1,633 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 70,476 cases countywide. In total, 2,512 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 1,023 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 20 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 2,832 people.

So far, 93% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said, speaking at a periodic update from the county's coronavirus task force via remote live stream.

The death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County continues to climb. Ferrer reported that 1,502 residents at those facilities have died, and nearly 90% lived in nursing homes.


Ferrer provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information for 2,629 of the victims. Here's a breakdown of the proportion of overall deaths by race and ethnicity:

  • 41% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 11% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 17% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 29% 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

The data were also presented per 100,000 residents in each ethnic group, which helps to "better understand which groups are disproportionately affected by COVID-19," Ferrer said. Here's that breakdown:

  • 52 - Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • 33 - African American
  • 32 - Latino/Latina
  • 23 - Asian
  • 17 - White

Ferrer also explained the disparity by community poverty levels:

"...we also see that people who live in areas with high rates of poverty continue to have almost four times the rate of death for COVID-19: 56 deaths per hundred thousand people. This is compared with communities with very low poverty levels, who had a death rate of 15 deaths per hundred thousand people."


Asked about the trend of hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, Ferrer said that, overall, health officials have "seen a decrease in sort of the daily census" of hospitalizations, but explained that's not the case for every hospital:

""The disproportionality that we see, in particular who's passing away, also affects who's hospitalized, and those hospitals that are serving our black and brown communities are likely to have higher rates of hospitalizations, as a reflection of who, in fact, is more likely to be very sick with COVID-19."


Asked how she would address county residents who are concerned the county is reopening too much too soon, Ferrer repeated that people who are older and/or have underlying health conditions, who are more at risk of serious and fatal COVID-19 cases, should continue to stay at home and avoid many of the activities and places now getting back to business.

For everyone else, she advised people to assess the risk for themselves and "not to do activities that are beyond your comfort zone."

She also noted that a lot is riding on individual businesses to follow the new health protocols as more sectors and spaces reopen:

"... a successful recovery journey for L.A. County depends in particular on those sectors that reopen to actually adhere to our protocols. If there is not adherence to the protocols, if we are not taking the basic steps to protect workers, and then to protect customers and visitors, this will be way more risky than it needs to be."


Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • More than 761,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and had their results reported to L.A. County health officials. Of those tests, 8% have been positive.
  • There are currently 1,839 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 29% are in the ICU, with 20% on ventilators. Ferrer said: “This is a stark reminder that although the number of people in the hospital on any given day has gone down over the last couple of weeks, the people who are in the hospital often require care for many days, and they require care in the intensive care unit.”
  • The county health department is currently investigating 501 institutional facilities where there's at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. Those sites include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, shelters, treatment centers, supportive living, and correctional facilities. Ferrer said there are 16,142 confirmed cases in those facilities — 10,510 residents and 5,623 staff members.
  • Ferrer said 488 cases have been confirmed among homeless people in L.A. County — 211 of whom were sheltered, Ferrer said.
  • There have now been 1,027 confirmed cases “at some point in time” in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. In total, 768 inmates and 259 staff members have tested positive.


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 Thursday, June 11:

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Homelessness Jumps By 13% In LA County

Tents in front of L.A. City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. (Matt Tinoco/LAist)

L.A. County's annual homeless count numbers are now out, and they show homelessness has increased by about 13%.

According to the count, 66,433 Angelenos are now experiencing homelessness on any given night, up from about 59,000 last year.

Some key stats:

  • Senior (62+) homelessness is up 20%.
  • Homelessness is rising fastest in the Antelope Valley, South Los Angeles, and the South Bay.
  • 71% of the people who are homeless in Los Angeles County have lived here for more than 10 years.
  • Black residents are overrepresented by a factor of four. Though black people make up 7.9% of L.A. County’s population, they comprise 33.7% of those experiencing homelessness.


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Morning Briefing: Coronavirus Cases Are Back Up In LA

Silver Lake residents cover the fence surrounding Silver Lake Reservoir with an art installation honoring just a fraction of those whose lives have been lost at the hands of police brutality. (Courtesy of Joyce Adam So.)

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In the past few weeks, daily news has shifted rapidly from the coronavirus to the sweeping international protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Now, though, COVID-19 cases in L.A. County are back on the rise, and officials say ICU’s could fill up by the end of the month.

According to Christina Ghaly of the L.A. health services department, transmission rates have gone up slightly since officials eased stay-at-home orders.

“If transmission has indeed increased, as the recent data suggests it has, the model predicts that we'll have a continued increase in hospital patient volume over,” Ghaly said.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, June 12

The annual homeless count figures will be released today (they're from January – pre-pandemic). Matt Tinoco looks at how they've changed from January last year.

Brianna Lee and Gina Pollack round up some of the major issues we’ve been covering at KPCC/LAist when it comes to policing and justice in L.A. — from the use of force in the police and sheriff’s departments to the records of L.A.’s district attorney Jackie Lacey and her challenger.

It's been three months since businesses were forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic. Emily Guerin has been following a few on one stretch of Lincoln Blvd. in Venice. She checks in to see how they're handling the reopening process.

The state Judicial Council is ending the zero bail rule for low-level offenses, which was created as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in L.A. jails. Frank Stoltze looks at the move within the broader context of bail reform.

The California State Assembly passed a proposal that would ask voters to overturn a ban on affirmative action at state agencies and universities. The ban, which has been in place since voters approved Prop 209 more than two decades ago, has been a divisive issue, especially among Asian Americans. Josie Huang writes about the community’s reaction to the current proposal.

When L.A. Pride organizers decided to hold a Black Lives Matter solidarity march, there was one thing they forgot to do — consult with Black activists. Contributor Lillian Kalish has the story of how Black queer activists transformed the event into the All Black Lives Matter march.

Cheryl Farrell takes solace in being part of what she calls The Sistahood of Black Women over 50 as a way to cope, in part, with the many hurts she has to deflect on a daily basis.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Working World: With unemployment rates at record highs, an increasing number of Angelenos are turning to public housing. Meanwhile, a new analysis of unemployment claims in California finds more workers in the state are heading back to work.

L.A. Protests: A local doctor is treating protesters for free to support the cause.

Policing Authority: The question of how to reform policing has dominated the zeitgeist for the past several weeks, with some of the loudest voices opposing dramatic change coming from police unions. An audit of the West Valley Water District in Rialto found questionable hiring practices, no-bid contracts and unjustified credit card expenses.

Coronavirus Cases: L.A. County health officials say intensive care units could fill up in the next two to four weeks, as the spread of the coronavirus increases – and things are no better in some state prisons. On the same day Orange County officials announced 4 new deaths and 260 new coronavirus cases, they said masks will now be recommended instead of mandatory.

Keep Yourself Occupied: Take a break from the good, the bad and the ugly out in the world with a screening of pioneering queer cinema, a house music party, a radio race or the award-wining play Scraps.

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