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Bill To Delay 'Literally Millions' Of Evictions Announced In Sacramento

An eviction notice and paperwork. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A compromise bill intended to prevent a wave of evictions in California was announced in Sacramento Friday. The announcement came from Governor Gavin Newsom, a key player in the negotiations between lawmakers, landlord groups, and tenant advocates.

He said the new law would mitigate “the prospects of millions, literally, millions of people being evicted or at least subject to eviction.”

Without action in Sacramento, eviction proceedings could start up again as soon as next week. California courts stopped processing nearly all evictions in April, but they are set to resume on Sept. 2.

The bill, AB 3088, would stop evictions of tenants who couldn’t pay rent due to COVID-19 between March and August of this year. Going forward, renters would need to pay at least 25 percent of their rent, and would ultimately be responsible for the full rent bill. Higher income renters will be required to provide proof of their financial losses.

The law would allow other types of evictions to proceed, like a violation of the terms of a lease unrelated to non-payment of rent, stopping short of the total halt that tenant groups have been calling for.

Advocacy group Tenants Together blasted the proposal for “complex provisions [that] will make the legislation inaccessible to renters and the public.”

Under AB 3088, courts wouldn’t process eviction cases based on non-payment of rent until Oct. 5.

Tom Bannon, CEO of the California Apartment Association, applauded lawmakers for “ensuring that owners can evict nuisance tenants and residents who can afford to pay rent but choose to game the system instead.”

The bill, however, is no sure thing: To take effect immediately, it will need to garner two-thirds majorities in the Assembly and Senate — always a high bar to clear. Lawmakers, landlords and tenants are all hoping that the federal government will act to help tenants and smaller property owners, and another bill in early 2021 remains a distinct possibility.

As many as 5.4 million Californians are at risk of eviction, according to a report published earlier this month.

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Racism Is Tied To Mental Health Problems For Veterans Of Color

A U.S. Army helicopter gunner flying over Afghanistan in 2008. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Researchers have determined that the stress of living in a racist society can damage the health of people of color, including their mental health.

But the concept is still not widely accepted among psychologists.

There are some efforts to change that, including in the health care system run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA psychologists got a grant to create a program to help veterans identify race-based stress and trauma as the source of at least some of their anxiety. The idea, said former VA psychologist Lamise Shawahin, was to "break the cycles of self blame."

"Experiencing racism was turning into people being labeled with pathology, when really they were just experiencing racism," she said.

The model was group meetings for veterans of color facilitated by one or two VA psychologists and a peer support person.

Army veteran Jared McBride joined one of the first small groups.

"We all have similar stories of different race-related issues that either derailed your career or it hampered your career," he said.

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Lawsuit Accuses LA Sheriff’s Deputies Of Abuses During Protests

Sheriff’s deputies shoot projectiles and pepper balls on June 21 at demonstrators protesting the death of Andres Guardado. (Brian Feinzimer)

A group of protesters has filed a class action lawsuit against Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva for his department’s handling of police protests earlier this summer. The federal civil rights suit accuses deputies of using unreasonable force against hundreds of protesters in the weeks following the police killing of George Floyd, as well as during a Father's Day protest against the killing of Andres Guardado by a deputy.

Deputies hit demonstrators with batons, rubber bullets and tear gas, often without warning, according to attorney Carolyn Parks. "They are often not making a dispersal order prior to using force or prior to arresting people," she said.

The lawsuit says deputies deprived people of basic human rights, refusing people who were detained access to food or water. It also accuses them of holding detainees for long periods of time in small, poorly ventilated spaces, while not wearing masks.

Plaintiff Grace Bryant, 21, is a senior at MIT who was visiting when she was arrested at a protest in Compton. "From the moment I was detained, I was asking for access to a bathroom," Bryant told us. After nearly two hours, she finally relieved herself inside a sheriff’s van, Bryant said.

Protesters have filed a similar lawsuit against the LAPD.

"The consistent, frightening, and forceful message that both the LAPD and the LASD have delivered to protesters in recent months is that the constitutional right to peaceably assemble, as enshrined in the First Amendment, will not stop the law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County from unleashing rough, indiscriminate violence and dangerous, retaliatory abuses of the powers vested in them when they are so inclined," claims the lawsuit against the sheriff.

The sheriff’s department offered no immediate comment on the suit.

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Why We Went On A Mission To Find Ruben Salazar 50 Years After His Death

The 3B artist crew in front of their mural commemorating the Chicano Moratorium on Whittier Blvd. in East Los Angeles. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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LAist columnist Erick Galindo and visual journalist Chava Sanchez spent the better part of this week talking to people in East L.A. trying to find meaning and a deep connection to Aug. 29, 1970. That's the day a peaceful anti-Vietnam War march known as the Chicano Moratorium ended violently after L.A. County Sheriff's deputies declared an unlawful assembly and broke it up with batons and projectiles.

Three people died, including L.A. Times columnist Ruben Salazar, who was fatally struck by a tear gas canister fired by a deputy. While there is no evidence to prove he was intentionally targeted, there remains speculation. Still, he died at the hands of someone with a badge -- a scenario that keeps repeating itself lately.

Galindo writes:

We carried out our mission not just in the long shadow of a 50-year-old history but in the blazing daylight of a string of recent police killings of Black and Brown people all across the country that have made me feel at times angry, sad and numb to the injustice of it all.

As Galindo and Sanchez walked the route of that long-ago march, they also explored the legacy of the Chicano movement, which "helped shape us, even if we weren't aware of it."



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High School Teacher Says She’s Facing Threats For Wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirt In Zoom Class

On Aug. 26, supporters of a teacher facing threats for wearing an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt rallied outside of her school, El Camino Real Charter High in Woodland Hills. (Screenshot from video provided by Yasmine Pomeroy)

An English teacher at El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills says she has received death threats after an image of her wearing an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt was widely circulated on social media.

The teacher -- who we are not naming to protect her privacy -- shared her account of the threats that started about two weeks ago in a written statement sent to LAist through a colleague.

“The emails were threatening and angry,” the teacher wrote. “They came by the hundreds, all to varying degrees of threat. I tried to block them because it was scaring me so much.”

The teacher said she was wearing the T-shirt during an online session to introduce herself to her class. According to the teacher, a parent who objected when she mentioned her work in various social justice campaigns took a screenshot of her and posted it on Facebook with a link to her school email address. (KPCC/LAist was unable to view the original Facebook post.)

She said the threats escalated after a conservative broadcaster reposted the image of her in the T-shirt to his followers.

“This has forced us from our home and caused so much mental anguish and stress,” she wrote.

Yasmine Pomeroy, who also teaches at El Camino Real and is a graduate of the school, said this isn’t the first time teachers there have discussed racial and social justice issues in the classroom.

“Realistically, it could have been any of us, because we’ve been doing this for years,” Pomeroy said.

But back then, she said, any upset parents or criticism were handled “one-on-one.”

She thinks the difference this time could have something to do with classroom conversations moving online. With students learning from home, parents can see directly into the classroom.

“I was fully expecting this to happen again,” Pomeroy said. “We just didn't realize with distance learning and social media how aggressively this would have ended up taking off.”

According to the school’s distance learning policies, students and their families “are not permitted to photograph, video or audio record, or screenshot any distance learning without express written permission.”

“If ECRCHS continues to mandate synchronous learning, the school must take preventative measures to protect educators from something like this happening again,” United Teacher Los Angeles president Cecily Myart-Cruz wrote in a letter to the school's executive director. “Educators need to be able to teach about racial and social injustice without threats, harassment, bullying, or scare-tactics.”

On Wednesday, UTLA members showed support for the teacher by wearing similar shirts, and protesters rallied outside of the school.

Thursday evening, dozens of parents, students, alumni, and community members called in to a meeting of the school’s board. Most of the public comments – though not all of them – were in support of a resolution to affirm that Black lives matter. The resolution ultimately passed 7-1.

The school’s executive director did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but in a statement posted on the school’s site wrote, “We support ECR teachers, staff, and students who speak up for those whose voices have been oppressed and pledge our commitment to moving beyond protest to action.”

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Wildfire Prep: Amid A Pandemic, Are Evacuation Centers Safe?

Smoke hangs over the city of Scotts Valley, California, in the Santa Cruz Mountains on Aug. 20, 2020. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester/KHN)

As the twin disasters of COVID-19 and fire season sweep through California, thousands of residents are weighing difficult options, pitting risk against risk as they decide where to evacuate, whether from imminent flames or the toxic air.

What's the right choice when all options pose additional risks?

Many counties have implemented new precautions at emergency shelters to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In Santa Cruz, for example, officials are scaling back the capacity in each shelter to allow for social distancing, providing tents for people to use as shielding inside and allowing camping in the parking lots.

Still, staying in a shelter should probably not be your first choice. In terms of COVID risk, deciding between a hotel and a friend’s house is “nipping at the edges,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, a clinical professor emeritus at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, while “being in a congregate setting is only better than being completely exposed to the elements.”

If an evacuation shelter is your best immediate option, again, do not hesitate. “You have these standards you want to practice for yourselves,” Swartzberg said, “but when something worse comes along, it trumps how careful we can be with COVID because the need for shelter is greater.” You can lower your risk of infection by wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and sanitizing surfaces.


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LA Files Charges Against TikTok Stars For Allegedly Throwing ‘Party House’ Ragers During Pandemic

City Attorney Mike Feuer announces charges against TikTok stars Bryce Hall and Blake Gray. (Credit: Facebook)

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a misdemeanor complaint today against TikTok stars Bryce Hall and Blake Gray.

Feuer claims the two were in violation of both the municipal code and the “Safer LA” Emergency Declaration when they allegedly threw a large party earlier this month.

“If you have a combined 19 million followers on TikTok, in the middle of a public health crisis, you should be modeling great behavior — best practices for all of us — rather than brazenly violating the law and then posting videos about it as we allege happened here,” Feuer said.

Hall and Gray share a home that they rent on Appian Way in the Hollywood Hills, the city attorney said.

Feuer said the city issued a citation after LAPD officers responded to a party at the home. He alleges that officers returned to the house less than a week later, on August 14, after there was a call claiming shots were fired. Police did not find any evidence of a gun.

After warnings were issued for the parties, Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the power shut off at the home.

“We allege these hosts have been incredibly irresponsible with a highly-infectious disease spreading,” Feuer said.

Individuals listed as representatives for Bryce Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Feuer also announced charges against two homeowners, alleging their properties have been the sources of “numerous community complaints.” He said the penalty for the homeowners could be up to a year in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. A party house ordinance lays out possible fines.

Hillside neighborhoods have for years struggled to control wild gatherings at so-called party houses. And residents there say the problem has gotten worse since the pandemic started.

Large parties at houses in the hills have resulted in two separate fatal shootings this month.

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California Has A New 4-Tier, Color-Coded Reopening Framework

This image, generated on August 28, 2020, shows which counties are in which tiers of California's new color-coded reopening framework, which goes into effect on on August 31, 2020. State of California via Facebook screengrab

Governor Gavin Newsom today debuted a new four-tier, color-coded reopening blueprint that goes into effect August 31 and will apply across the entire state of California. That means on Monday, some counties could be moved into a less restrictive tier, allowing some businesses to reopen, while other counties could be moved into a more restrictive tier, requiring some businesses to institute new safety precautions.

Newsom hopes this simplified framework will make it easier for California residents to understand which businesses are open in their county and what safety precautions these businesses must take. (If you were confused by the previous plan — with its tiers and stages and tiers within stages — join the club.) When you go to California's COVID-19 website, you'll find a new section, Blueprint for a Safer Economy, where you can enter your zip code and select the type of business (for example, "day camps," "places of worship," "nail salons," "restaurants," etc.) to see its opening statues.

An overview of California's new four-tier, color-coded reopening framework, which goes into effect on August 31, 2020. (State of California via Facebook screengrab)

The new color-coded framework is divided into Widespread, Substantial, Moderate and Minimal tiers, based on COVID-19 case rates and positivity rates. The Widespread (purple) tier is the most restrictive while the Minimal (yellow) tier has the least stringent restrictions.

  • Widespread - Purple
  • Substantial - Red
  • Moderate - Orange
  • Minimal - Yellow

There's no green tier because, as Newsom said, "We don't believe that there is a green light, which says go back to the way things were or back to the pre-pandemic mindset."

Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties are all in the purple (widespread) tier.

That means that as of August 31, 2020, according to the website, "Counties in the Widespread (purple) tier may open some businesses and activities with modifications, including all retail, shopping centers at maximum 25% capacity, and hair salons and barbershops indoors."

Yes, you read that right. On Monday, hair salons can reopen and you can go get those shaggy locks cut.

A man gets a haircut. (Michael DeMoya)

Santa Barbara and San Diego are in the slightly less restrictive red (substantial) tier.

A quick scan of the website shows only two California counties — Modoc, near the border with Oregon, and Tuolumne, in the central part of the state — in the yellow tier.

Counties can still institute restrictions that are more stringent than the state has required, but county restrictions can't be less stringent.

With version 2.0 of the state's reopening, officials are taking a much slower and more cautious approach than they did the first time around.

If a county is assigned a tier today, it will remain in that tier for at least three weeks.

"This process is why we say statewide and stringent but we also say slow, in terms of our ability to move into these different tiers," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California's Health and Human Services agency, at the press conference.

Although COVID-19 case rates are going down, they're still higher than they were back in June, Dr. Ghaly noted.

"One thing we've learned from the previous reopening experience is making sure that we really hold strongly to these buffers, in terms of criteria and data and holding that criteria and data for an extended period of time."

At today's briefing, Newsom and Ghaly both emphasized: COVID-19 will be with us for a long time and we can't let down our guard.

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Morning Briefing: Voting By Mail: What You Need To Know

A flag hangs outside the vote center on Pixie Ave in Lakewood on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Megan Garvey/LAist

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Okay, I’ll be the one to admit it: I feel overwhelmed and slightly confused about the state of mail-in voting. Between the U.S. Postal Service madness and President Trump’s admission that he opposes funding to the USPS to thwart mail-in voting, things seem to change by the day.

But fortunately, KPCC’s Libby Denkmann is here to help. In a thorough Q&A, she addresses every question you have (and some you didn’t know you had!). As with so many things in California, the situation varies greatly by county. But across the state, a few things are certain:

  1. California is mailing ballots to all registered voters.
  2. Mail-in ballots are counted here as long as they are postmarked on or before Election Day.
  3. If you’re worried about getting your ballot in, the time is now to double check your registration status.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, August 28

Contributor Brenda Dupré writes about finding her voice in the face of overt and not-so-overt comments from colleagues and peers, something that she endured in silence as a young Black professional decades ago.

The Chicano Moratorium march was held on Aug. 29, 1970 in East L.A. to protest the drafting of young Mexican Americans in the Vietnam War. Four people died — two of them (including journalist Ruben Salazar) fatally shot by L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies. Columnist Erick Galindo and visual journalist Chava Sanchez walked the length of the march route and spoke to people about then and now.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Policing The Police: Anthony McClain's family filed a legal complaint against the city of Pasadena, a precursor to a wrongful death lawsuit. L.A. County paid departing CEO Sachi Hamai $1.5 million and will provide her with full-time private security in response to her claims that political attacks from Sheriff Alex Villanueva endangered her safety.

Voting: If news about U.S. Postal Service delays and heated political rhetoric around voting by mail has you anxious about the November election, you're not alone – but we’re here to help.

Here’s What To Do: Explore the Chicano Moratorium’s 50th anniversary, attend the Inside Lands festival from your living room, get outside and pick tomatoes, and more in this weekend’s best online and IRL events. Watch comedian Dylan Brody’s new award-winning web series based on a series of Zoom conversations.

Photo Of The Day

An immigrant rights supporter demonstrates against the re-election of President Donald Trump outside the L.A. Federal Detention Center.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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