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Historic San Gabriel Mission Heavily Damaged By Fire


UPDATE: At 11 a.m., Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez will celebrate Sunday Mass at the historic 249-year-old Mission San Gabriel

ORIGINAL STORY: A four-alarm fire at the historic San Gabriel Mission demolished the 249-year-old structure’s wooden roof and much of its interior early Saturday.

A fire alarm at 4:25 a.m. sent firefighters to 428 S. Mission Road, where arriving firefighters reported a large column of smoke and fire coming from the corner of the roof.

The fire was knocked down at 6:48 a.m. and no injuries were reported.

Fire investigators were at the scene and have yet to make entry because of concern over the church’s structural integrity. The church was undergoing renovation to mark its 250th anniversary celebration next year.

"The roof is completely gone," sad San Gabriel fire captain Paul Negrete. "The fire traversed the wood rapidly, the interior is pretty much destroyed up into the altar area."

The interior wall of the church was redone a week ago and crews had just finished installing the pews as part of a larger renovation of the property, said Terri Huerta, a spokeswoman for the mission.

The church had been preparing to reopen next weekend following a four-month closure to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The mission was founded by Franciscan priest Junipero Serra in 1771 in San Gabriel, a few miles southeast of Pasadena.

Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, tweeted:

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

After a statue of Serra was recently toppled near Plaza Olvera, the mission relocated its statue of the missionary. Father John Molyneux, pastor of Mission San Gabriel, issued this statement:

"In light of the toppling of statues of St. Junipero Serra by activists across California in recent days, Mission San Gabriel has decided to relocate the bronze statue of Fr. Serra, which has stood outside the Mission church entrance since the 1980s, to a more appropriate location, out of public view. This decision was made after consultation with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and local and Archdiocesan representatives of the Native American community. Whereas the California Catholic Conference of Bishops reminds us that the historical truth is that St. Serra repeatedly pressed the Spanish authorities for better treatment of the Native American community, we recognize and understand that for some he has become a symbol of the dehumanization of the Native American community. We at Mission San Gabriel are committed to continuing dialogue with our Native American representatives in order to achieve a peaceful and just partnership."

Statues of Serra were also recently taken down by protesters in San Francisco and Sacramento. Negrete said the recent toppling of those monuments to Serra, the founder of the California mission system who has long been a symbol of oppression among Indigenous activists, will be a factor in the investigation.

California Files Legal Challenge To Trump Policy On International Students

California attorney general Xavier Becerra announced a joint lawsuit with California's public universities challenging visa restrictions on international students. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

UPDATE: The UC Sytem followed through on Friday night by filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the international students policy.

Also, attorneys for seven international university students studying in Orange and Los Angeles counties have sued the Trump administration, alleging that new rules on foreign student visas makes them "pawns in a political drama."

The federal civil complaint, filed Friday in Orange County, seeks a court order preventing the government from enforcing the policy that would strip foreign students of their U.S. visas if their fall classes are held solely online.

The plaintiffs — identified by their initials only — are Chinese nationals studying at UC Irvine School of Law and UCLA, and a German national attending the USC Gould School of Law.

ORIGINAL STORY: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and leaders of the state's public universities announced today that they will sue the Trump administration over a new policy requiring international students to take at least some of their classes in person this fall or risk having their visas revoked.

Becerra and the California Community Colleges and California State University systems say they'll file a joint lawsuit challenging the "unlawful policy that threatens to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and exile hundreds of thousands of college students studying in the United States through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program."

“The California State University stands in the strongest opposition to the policy guidance issued Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement. “It is a callous and inflexible policy that unfairly disrupts our more-than 10,300 international students’ progress to a degree, unnecessarily placing them in an extremely difficult position."

White had previously announced that the 23-campus system will conduct almost all of its classes online for the fall 2020 semester. According to the ICE policy, the State Department "will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States."

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said the policy will effect 21,000 international students across the system's 115 campuses.

On Wednesday, the University of Calfornia announced plans to file its own lawsuit against the Trump administration over the visa policy. A university spokesman said Thursday that the lawsuit will be filed some time next week.

Other schools are forming strategies outside of the courts to push back against the ICE policy. On Thursday, USC notified its more than 12,000 international students that they can sign up for an in-person class at no additonal cost to maintain their visa status.

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Morning Briefing: Coronavirus Contradictions

A framing art gallery is closed in Venice Beach, California' during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus on April 1, 2020. Apu Gomes / AFP via Getty Images

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

The contradictory coronavirus messages keep coming.

As L.A. and O.C. county numbers surge, Downtown Disney nevertheless reopened its doors to visitors — and people were waiting in line to get in. Just a few weeks ago, city officials lauded the widespread testing available to Angelenos; now, we’re back to limited testing for those at the highest risk.

And those whose loved ones remain in lockdown — whether at nursing homes, mental health facilities or elsewhere — are struggling with the grief of not seeing them and, too frequently, not knowing what’s going on.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said yesterday that the city would not see another stay-at-home order. Let's hope that continues to be the case.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

The Past 24 Hours In LA

Policing The Police: In an unprecedented move, the L.A. County coroner released the results of an autopsy (against the wishes of the Sheriff’s department), which found that 18-year-old Andrés Guardado was killed by five shots in the back fired by a Sheriff’s deputy.

Coronavirus Updates: We spent time with a mother who has been cutting through bushes to talk with her son through his window at La Casa, a locked mental health facility in Long Beach. Priority for COVID-19 tests in L.A. County will again go to people experiencing symptoms, those in high-risk jobs or those who have come in contact with someone who’s tested positive. Downtown Disney reopened despite a surge in Orange County COVID-19 cases — and people waited in line to get in.

How Athletes Adapt: The Angel City Games has established itself as Southern California's premier adaptive-sports competition, and this year its athletes are adjusting to going virtual.

L.A. Kids: The L.A. teachers’ union is pushing to keep school campuses closed when the semester begins on Aug. 18.

Horse Racing Deaths: In the wake of 29 horse deaths at Los Alamitos race track, industry regulators warned that the track could lose its license if it doesn't come up with a plan to reduce fatalities in the next 10 days.

First Person: L.A. teacher and first-generation Korean immigrant Caroline Rhude reflects on how others’ perception of her race and identity has affected her interactions throughout her life. Erick Galindo writes about the deep and lasting influence that the late Mexican American writer Rudolfo Anaya, who died in late June, had on him.

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

Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep our day-to-day lives in order without trying to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, these articles provide some much-needed insight into the current moment in L.A., as well as some news you may have missed:

John Clinton Porter was the mayor of L.A. in the early 1930s. He was also a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. (LA Taco)

Melina Abdullah, a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, reflects on the group’s past seven years in this first-person essay. (LA Watts Times)

More than 3,000 people being held in ICE detention centers have tested positive for COVID-19. (La Opinión)

A new Hollywood high-rise will house micro-unit apartments averaging “375 square feet, with a targeted rent of $1,995 per month." (Urbanize LA)

Los Fauna, a psychedelic garage rock band based in Boyle Heights/East L.A., talks about rehearsing in quarantine and possibly coming up with a “Cuarentena Cumbia.” (Boyle Heights Beat)

Expect pozoles, a vegan elopozole, beef tongue with plantains and more at L.A.’s first Afro-Mexican restaurant. (Eater LA)

The case for feminist cities has been amplified by the coronavirus. (Curbed)

L.A. has a history of being a reputed “birthplace of the future.” How will we uphold that tradition as we reinvent post-coronavirus? (

Photo Of The Day

Annie Felix visits her son, Andrew, from the other side of his window at La Casa, a locked mental health in Long Beach. Visitation has been frozen because of COVID-19.

(Robert Garrova / LAist)

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