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Physical, Verbal Anti-Asian Assaults Reported During Pandemic

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Published
Lena Hernandez was captured in a video shared on social media after a racist verbal tirade in Torrance. (Dana Amihere/Photo illustration)

A hate incident tracker has collected more than 800 accounts of anti-Asian racism from California as the pandemic has picked up in recent months.

The founders of the STOP AAPI Hate online aggregator have joined forces with Asian American state legislators in calling for the state government to step up on the issue of discrimination against Asian Americans, especially in light of the anti-Chinese rhetoric deployed by President Trump.

A high-profile string of attacks on Asian Americans have taken place in Torrance, including racist verbal tirades by a woman from Long Beach. Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, said he's been told that the Torrance city prosecutor will decide whether to file charges against the woman, Lena Hernandez, by the end of the week.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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LA To Slash Police Budget By $150 Million

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Published
Los Angeles Police Department officers patrol a light rail car in this file photo. (Courtesy L.A. Metro)

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to cut $150 million from the LAPD's $1.8 billion operating budget.

The move comes in response to recent historic protests that saw hundreds of thousands of Angelenos take to the streets, demanding justice for Black people who have died at the hands of police after Minneapolis cops killed George Floyd in May.

The bulk of the funds cut from the LAPD's budget will be redirected to programs serving marginalized communities.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Lawmakers Seek Answers As Coronavirus Surges In State Prisons

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San Quentin State Prison. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

COVID-19 is spreading in the state prisons. Twenty-two inmates have died, along with two staff. There are currently more than 2,600 inmates with the virus.

That prompted a State Senate committee hearing in Sacramento today.

Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) wanted officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to tell her why so many prisoners are sick.

"Was CDCR maintaining or mandating the same public health protocols that the state asked of the rest of us?" she asked.

Prison officials didn't directly answer the question. They said they've increased cleaning and provided masks, although numerous sources tell us some guards and inmates aren't wearing them.

More than 40% of the state prisoners with COVID-19 are at San Quentin.

Federal Receiver Clark Kelso said prison transfers, including from the California Institute for Men in Chino, played a part in San Quentin's outbreak:

"Twenty-five of the 122 transferees tested positive."

James King, a former inmate released from San Quentin six months ago, told the committee that overcrowding made it hard not to get sick there.

"I never went one year without catching a cold," he said.

Overall, the state prison system is at about 120% of capacity.

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School Police Chief Resigns After LAUSD Board Cuts Budget

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Todd Chamberlain resigned as chief of the L.A. School Police in the aftermath of an LAUSD board vote to cut his department's budget by 35%. (Los Angeles Unified School District)

The chief of the L.A. Unified School District's police force quit today, less than 24 hours after the district's board cut $25 million from his department's budget.

The resignation of Chief Todd Chamberlain was confirmed by William Etue, vice president of the Los Angeles School Police Association, the union representing rank-and-file school police officers. He said Chamberlain revealed his decision in an afternoon Zoom call to the entire department.

"Our district and our department lost a great leader [with] this resignation," Etue said. "Chief Chamberlain has proven [to be] an incredible leader throughout his law enforcement career."

On Tuesday night, after hours of debate and discussion, the LAUSD board voted 4-3 to reduce the LA School Police budget by 35%, and to divert those funds to hire more social workers, counselors and campus safety aids at schools with more Black students.

Chamberlain said during the meeting that the $25 million reduction means LAUSD will need to lay off 65 officers, close 39 vacant officer positions and eliminate the school police force's entire overtime budget.

"He did not say that it was related that," Etue said of Chamberlain's Zoom call, "but one can at least assume that that was the result of the board action."

Chamberlain was named L.A. School Police chief in November 2019. He was a 33-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department when he retired at the rank of commander and was working as a lecturer in criminal justice at Cal State Los Angeles, according to an LAUSD press release announcing his hire.

When asked who will now lead the department, an L.A. Unified spokesperson said in an email that "more information on the department leadership transition will be forthcoming."

READ THE FULL STORY ON THE LAUSD BOARD MEETING:

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Mayor Garcetti Tells Non-Compliant Businesses 'We Will Not Hesitate To Shut You Down,' Pushes Feds For Extension Of $600 Unemployment Benefits

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave an update on the local coronavirus pandemic response this afternoon.

Here are the highlights:

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT EXTENSION

The mayor said he has asked the governmnent to extend the $600 weekly federal unemployment insurance benefits past the July 31 projected end date.

"That date is weighing on the shoulders of breadwinners and our families like a heavy anchor," he said. "The economic crisis that accompanied COVID-19 won't end anytime soon, certainly not in a month's time – nobody believes that. So it's time for our Congress and our President to step up and to continue that help."

He said he has voiced his support for the legistlation introduced today by California Sen. Chuck Schumer and Oregon Sen. Rob Wyden.

The unemployment rate in L.A. County right now is 21%.

RESTAURANT AND BAR CLOSINGS

The mayor said he supports Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision to close down bars and restaurants for indoor dining, due to the recent surge in cases. He said he thinks regional guidelines are less confusing than county-wide ones:

"It's so confusing for our public when certain places have things open and other ones have them closed, and from a public health perspective, this works best when we're all playing by the same rules."

The mayor said he feels for restaurant owners right now, but he encouraged them to apply for free temporary outdoor dining permits under the Al Fresco program (at coronavirus.lacity.org/laalfresco).

Garcetti said he hopes that schools will be able to open in late August, but that won't happen unless we all cooperate with reopening guidelines and wear masks.

In response to the 50% of L.A. County restaurants not complying with guidelines, he said these rules are mandatory and that if businesses are not in compliance, they will be shut down.

"We will not hesitate to shut you down but we don't want to shut you down. We just want to help you get in compliance."

To that end, L.A. is launching a new program where volunteers will call local businesses and explain guidelines to them. Volunteer signups are open to the general public at volunteer.lacity.org.

He added that group gatherings with anyone outside of your own household are still prohibited. That means no birthday parties, no graduation parties, no parties of any kind. "Getting together with anybody except for those you live with will help spread the virus," he said.

NEW COLOR-CODED CORONAVIRUS THREAT LEVELS

Today the city is launching a new color-coded system to alert the public to the local threat level of COVID-19. The colors will be red, yellow, orange and green.

The system will show up on the city's website at coronavirus.lacity.org/threatlevel.

screenshot from L.A. city's color threat warning website

The current threat level is orange, which means the risk of infection remains very high. Orange means you should stay home as much as possible, Garcetti said, and only leave for essential outings like grocery shopping or essential work. You should assume everyone around you is infectious.

Red means we are at the highest risk of infection and residents should stay home. Yellow means we are successfully flattening the curve and green means COVID-19 is mostly contained.

"We all want to live in that green and yellow area until there's a cure or treatment for COVID-19," Garcetti said.

THINGS ARE NOT GREAT

Right now, the mayor said, we are facing threats on six out of the seven critical coronavirus indicators, including hospital capacity being taxed, the positivity rate going up, and the number of cases surging. Garcetti added that two L.A. factories have experienced coronavirus outbreaks but declined to share the names of those factories, as he is unsure whether or not that information is confidential. He added COVID-19 testing teams will be sent to those factories to test workers.

Garcetti added this warning:

"Everyone should be wearing your face covering. I'm not asking you. I'm telling you, if there's no mask, there should be no service in any of the places where we shop, where we work."

In response to a question about enforcement, he said the city is not issuing tickets to individuals who are not wearing masks, saying that he doesn't want the city to become "a police state."

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LA County Health Director: 'Immediate Action Is Necessary' To Slow Coronavirus Spread

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Los Angeles County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer speaks at a press conference on the novel COVID-19 (coronavirus), March 6, 2020 in Los Angeles. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles County health officials are now reporting more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases, with the total number of known cases climbing to more than 105,000.

An additional 35 people have died from COVID-19, pushing the county's death toll to over 3,400.

Wednesday marks the fourth straight day where testing labs have confirmed more than 2,000 new cases.

Hospitalizations are now up to 1,900 (not including patients in Pasadena and Long Beach), which is the highest number in weeks. Of those, 27% are currently in intensive care.

The Public Health Department has strong evidence that many outbreaks of the virus over the past few weeks can be traced back to parties and gatherings, L.A. County Public Health Director Ferrer said. She warned that celebrating the upcoming Fourth of July with a big get-together carries real risks this year.

"There have been a couple of times over the past five months where I've noted the need for us to collectively take more aggressive actions," Ferrer said, "and this is another one of those times. Immediate action is necessary in order for us to get back on track to slow the spread."

The county has received over 1.1 million COVID-19 test results, with 9% of those tests coming back positive. That's higher than the threshold set by the state, which is why the state government is pulling back on L.A. County and keeping the county from moving forward further with reopening businesses.

As of today, all county and L.A. city testing sites are completely booked for the rest of the week, since many of those locations will be closed on Friday and Saturday for the holiday weekend. If you need a COVID-19 test, health officials say you should be able to request one from your health care provider — but if you don't have one, you can call 211 to get connected with a community clinic with testing capabilities.

Undocumented Immigrant Families With Young Kids Now Qualify For Some State Tax Credits

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Thousands of families who use ITINs to file their taxes are now eligible for two state tax credit programs.

A pair of California tax credit programs that are often worth thousands of dollars for families with young children will be open to all immigrant parents under the state budget signed by Governor Gavin Newsom this week.

The Earned Income and Young Child Tax Credit programs had previously excluded anyone who files their taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, because they don’t have a Social Security number. Those families will be eligible for the credits when they file their 2020 taxes next year.

Alissa Anderson, a senior policy analyst at the California Budget and Policy Center, said:

“We're talking about families who are working and paying taxes just like everyone else, and so we think it's only fair to allow them to access the same credits that everyone else can.”

The center estimates the change will apply to 32,000 to 46,000 families statewide. A legislative analysis shows the expansion will cost about $65 million next year.

Anderson said one shortcoming is that people who file taxes with an ITIN and don’t have a child under 6 years old will not qualify for either credit.

“I just don't think that California can continue to welcome immigrants here to work and gladly take their tax dollars, but then continue to shut them out of basic benefits,” she said.

MORE ABOUT THE TAX CREDIT PROGRAMS:

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LA Sheriff Won't Close Altadena And Marina Del Rey Stations After All

Updated
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Sheriff Alex Villanueva. (Kyle Grillot for LAist)

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has officially backed away from his threat to close the department’s Altadena and Marina Del Rey stations.

We reached out to the department for clarification on the sheriff’s decision, and on whether he'll be making other cuts to make up for the savings lost by not closing the two stations. We haven’t yet received a response.

On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors passed a budget that includes $145 million in cuts to the Sheriff's Department, which could require more than 300 layoffs.

Villanueva first announced in early May that he would close the stations to save $12 million, part of a series of cutbacks designed to save a total of $200 million in the face of budget reductions.

About a week later the county Board of Supervisors asked him to shelve the plan to shutter the stations. Villanueva responded the next day by saying he hadn’t made a final decision, and that if he did move forward, administrative functions would stop, but deputies would “remain at their stations” patrolling the Altadena and Marina Del Rey communities.

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Newsom Orders Closures Of Restaurants, Other Indoor Businesses In LA County, 18 Others

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Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to coronavirus, announcing that he was closing indoor operations in multiple business sectors in watch list counties — including restaurants — as well as all operations of bars. You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference above.

RESTAURANT, BAR, OTHER CLOSURES IN WATCH LIST COUNTIES

Newsom said that the spread of COVID-19 across California is happening at an alarming rate. Effective immediately, California is ordering indoor operations to close in these sectors in counties on its watch list, including Los Angeles County, to reduce the risk of spread:

  • Restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Zoos and museums
  • Cardrooms

The order applies to all 19 counties that have been on the state's county monitoring list for at least three days.

These orders will remain in place for at least three weeks.

The state also orders closure of all business at bars in those counties.

While they remain in operation, Newsom said that the station is working with Native American tribes on adjusting the operation of casinos on tribal land.

BEACH CLOSURES

All parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area will be closed this coming weekend. In counties that close local beaches, the state will also close state beaches — this includes Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Other state parks remain open, though measures remain in place to reduce visitation and limit overcrowding.

FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND

The state is recommending that counties with mandatory closures cancel fireworks shows. Los Angeles had already done so.

This weekend, the state recommends Californians not gather with people that you don't live with.

"We may be wearing those masks at the beginning of our time together," Newsom said, but noted that masks are often put aside as gatherings continues.

The state also recommends avoiding crowds this weekend, as well as while coronavirus continues to significantly affect California.

ENFORCEMENT

Newsom acknowledged that enforcement is difficult, and that there would be problems if all 40 million Californians turned their backs on following public health orders. He also noted that most of the enforcement won't be done by law enforcement, but by people watching out for each other.

California plans to enforce public health orders using multi-agency strike teams in six regions of the state, according to Newsom. Those teams will target non-compliant workplaces.

The strike teams include Alcohol and Beverage Control, the Barbers and Cosmetology Board, CalOSHA, the Department of Business Oversight, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the California Highway Patrol. Those teams will build partnerships with local public health departments and businesses.

Most of the enforcement happens at the county level, Newsom said. The state wants counties to consider fines against repeat business offenders — those not adequately protecting customers or employees.

Counties have the right to choose not to enforce regulations, Newsom said, but that the state plans to withhold their portion of $2.5 billion that was approved for county funding in the state budget signed yesterday if counties engage in "bad behavior."

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

There were 110 deaths of Californians in the last 24 hours, Newsom said. He said those deaths should serve as a "counter narrative" to what he called "punditry... that the mortality rates have somehow dropped significantly."

There were 5,898 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, with a positivity rate of 6% over the past 2 weeks — 6.4% over the past week. It's also risen from 4.6% to 6% over those 14 days. The positivity rate peaked at 40.8% early in the state's testing. There were about 87,000 tests in the past day, though Newsom said that the state still needs to do more tests.

OVERALL LOOK AT CALIFORNIA TRENDS:

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 30:

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 positive people are up from 3,439 two weeks ago to 5,196 as of yesterday — a 51% increase. Coronavirus patients are occupying 7% of the state's hospital beds — currently, 60% of the state's beds are beign occupied.

Intensive care unit admissions are also up from 1,119 to 1,617 over the past two weeks — a 47% increase. They are occupying 15% of the state's ICU beds. The state has 11,430 ventilators available in its system.

There have been 10,170 people here in California who will have completed their contact tracer training by the end of this week.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS

The governor stressed that people should:

  • Wear a face covering
  • Physically distance
  • Wash your hands

Newsom said that wearing a face mask is a sign of respect for others and sends a message that you're committed to the health of your community, and that you're a leader.

"Wearing a face covering is a sign of toughness, it's a sign of resolve, it's a sign of someone who gives a damn — it's a sign of someone who gives a damn. It's a sign of someone who wants to solve a problem, take responsibility," Newsom said. "In the spirit of our founding fathers, the American spirit is one of taking responsibility, taking to account and meeting a moment, and having the fortitude, the character, the conviction, the confidence to put a face covering on."

NO QUESTIONS

The news conference ended with technical difficulties keeping reporters from asking questions by phone.

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LA Times Food Editor Peter Meehan Resigns After Sexual Harassment Accusations

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Peter Meehan visits Los Angeles in the second episode of "Ugly Delicious," a Netflix show he co-produced along with host David Chang. (screengrab by Elina Shatkin)

Peter Meehan has resigned from his role as food editor of the Los Angeles Times after being accused on social media of creating a hostile work environment.

Many people within the Southern California food scene were also outraged to learn that Meehan had never moved to Los Angeles from New York after he landed the food editor gig in 2018, a job that, according to a statement posted on Twitter by Tammie Teclemariam, earned him $300,000 per year. The fact that Meehan had largely been doing his job remotely was not widely known, even to many L.A. Times employees outside of the Food section.

On Monday, New York-based food writer Teclemariam began sharing allegations from staffers at the L.A. Times and Lucky Peach, the magazine Meehan co-founded with chef David Chang. Among other things, they allege that Meehan had verbally abused staff members and sexually harassed some female employees.

(Teclemariam's relentless Twitter callouts of former Bon Appétit editor Adam Rapoport, including posting a photo of him in brownface, ultimately led to his resignation last month.)

In a statement Meehan posted today on Twitter, he said, "Tweets on Monday alleged a number of things I don’t think are true, but they also compelled my staff to speak out. In my tunnel-vision commitment to making the best thing we could, I lost sight of people and their feelings. That is a terrible failing on my part... I wish I had seen myself how others did and changed my ways, but this moment is about that: changing, challenging, and making things better."

(screengrab from Twitter)

At the time Meehan got the job, the L.A. Times made more than one reference to restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, who passed away in 2018 and with whom Meehan had become friends. The paper had said Meehan would divide his time between coasts and that he has family ties to Southern California.

In his statement, Meehan did not address any of the ire, especially among Southern California food writers, about his general lack of knowledge about Los Angeles and its food scene, or about his choice not to relocate to Southern California when he landed the job.

For some L.A. Times staffers, that point was especially galling. When the paper relocated from downtown L.A. to El Segundo, many reporters asked to work from home but were denied or received pushback from their managers.

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LA County's Restaurants Are Closed Again — For 3 Weeks

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Plastic screens are installed at a branch of Weatherspoons on June 25, 2020. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

It's a cruel, cruel summer. All restaurants in Los Angeles County — and 18 other counties — must immediately close their indoor dining rooms for at least three weeks, says California Governor Gavin Newsom. He made the announcement at a noontime Wednesday press briefing.

The order impacts restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms along with movie theaters, family entertainment venues, zoos, museums and card rooms.

"We have specifically targeted our efforts to close indoor operations, and I want to reinforce this, indoor operations," Newsom said.

Restaurants can still serve patrons outdoors or, of course, via takeout and delivery.

The move comes amid rising coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates and three days after officials abruptly shuttered bars in L.A. and six other counties. The bar closure came barely a week after drinking establishments had been allowed to reopen.

On Monday, county officials said 49% of bars and 33% of restaurants have not been following social distancing and other safety protocols since dine-in service was allowed to restart.

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Beyond 'The Talk': How Parents Prep Their Black Children For The World

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A Black Lives Matter protest in May. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Kimmia Sanders says from a very early age her mother made sure her children were prepared to deal with the reality of being Black in the U.S.

"As a child, my mom was always talking to me about how to carry myself being a young Black woman in America. Being Black, you have to handle certain situations differently because if you're not careful things can go south really quickly."

That's why her mother, Kim Sanders, made sure her two children learned about how to handle being confronted by police offfcers. Her decision: take a hands-on approach, enrolling her daughter in a program to give her the skills needed to walk away from a confrontation.

"Being Black in America is a really hard thing... in some cases it can cost you your life," said Kim Sanders.

READ MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM:

Garcetti Calls On Business Leaders To Follow City’s Lead On Racial Equity

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L.A. business leaders join Mayor Eric Garcetti to discuss racial equity measures. July 1, 2020. (via Facebook)

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti today called on local leaders in the private sector to take steps toward racial equity reform, following similar measures he’s directed within city government.

In June, the mayor signed executive directive 27, which requires an examination of racial disparity in local government and an action plan for equity in hiring and contracting. But because “85% of our workforce in Southern California is employed in the private sector,” business leaders must participate as well in order to truly implement equity in the region, Garcetti said.

To move in that direction, city leaders are asking companies to acquire data on their own racial equity statistics; designate a racial equity officer; consider a wide range of factors in hiring, such as whether a candidate is a first generation immigrant or has a nonviolent charge on their record, such as marijuana use; and more.

“This has to be intentional work,” Garcetti said.

Additionally, the city will create what he called an “executive directive 27 private sector equity Task Force,” focusing first on the following industries:

  • manufacturing
  • entertainment
  • tech
  • media
  • sports
  • real estate
  • hospitality

Today’s conference call included representatives from AT&T, Anheuser Busch, Riot Games, Douglas Emmitt, Snap Inc., SoLa Impact, The L.A. Rams, Relativity Space, Morgan Stanley, Soylent, The Dodgers, WME, Warner Music Group, Hudson Pacific Properties, AECOM, 4thMVMT, Gensler, FabFitFun and Northrop Grumman.

“Imagine if, a couple months from now, we could show 100 of the leading companies in Los Angeles, have all implemented the equivalent of an executive director 27,” said Garcetti at the end of the call. “We'd be on the right side of history.”

Morning Briefing: The Antelope Valley’s History Of Racism

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A stencil on a power box in Echo Park reads "rent strike." Chava Sanchez/LAist

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

When Robert Fuller’s body was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, officials abruptly labeled it a suicide. But pushback from the community – which included highlighting the fact that Fuller’s autopsy wasn’t even complete – caused them to walk that stance back.

Part of the reason for the pushback, reports Emily Elena Dugdale, is the area’s history of entrenched racism.

In 2010, a U.S. Department of Justice report found that the Antelope Valley had L.A. County’s highest rate of hate crimes. In 2015, the department accused L.A. County officials and Sheriff’s deputies of purposefully discriminating against Black residents. And Neo-Nazis and skinheads have long terrorized the area, committing assaults and firebombing a Black church.

Aezana Nora, who grew up in Palmdale, told Dugdale that white classmates used to taunt him with threats of an attack by the KKK. At 12 years old, he said, men with swastika tattoos chased him out of a restaurant and followed him in a truck.

"The things that I've gone through,” he said, “[Fuller] could have been me.”

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, July 1

Olivia Riçhard has the story about a program that teaches Black youth how to navigate high-stakes situations with law enforcement.

LAUSD is set to vote on its budget today, which is subject to revision after July 15. Kyle Stokes breaks down the spending plan.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

#JusticeForRubertFuller: When Robert Fuller was found hanging from a tree, the fear that he was lynched grew out of the area's long history of racism. Fuller was laid to rest yesterday.

Money Matters: California child care providers who work with children from low-income families will not see some of the budget cuts they feared. L.A. County officials approved a 2020-21 budget proposal that includes cuts and layoffs across all departments. An 81-year-old Iranian immigrant whose shoe-and-leather store on Melrose was looted and burned down during L.A.’s recent protests wonders how to rebuild.

Coronavirus Updates: The hotel workers union is now calling on local officials to shut hotels down until proper coronavirus protections are in place.

Love That Dirty Water: Heal The Bay has released its annual beach report card for California, which rates the cleanest and dirtiest spots along our coastline.

To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.


Photo Of The Day

Aezana Nora was born and raised in the Antelope Valley. He says he’s had run-ins with neo-Nazis there.

(Emily Elena Dugdale/LAist)

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