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LAPD Officer Shot A Man In Pico Union -- It's The Sixth Police Shooting In Last 7 Days

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LAPD Headquarters in front of CIty Hall. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

An unidentified man was shot by a police officer outside the Olympic Community Police Station in Pico Union today, making it the sixth shooting by the LAPD in the last seven days.

Police say the man, described as 36 years old, approached the station at about 2:20 p.m., and an officer noticed he had a handgun. The officer summoned help and an officer-involved shooting occurred. Police haven't provided any more details about the interaction.

The man was hospitalized, underwent surgery and was in critical but stable condition this evening, according to officials. No officers were injured.

An investigation is ongoing.

The five previous shootings involving LAPD officers took place in the Hollenbeck, Rampart, Southwest and Southeast areas. Two of those shootings were deadly.

This story was updated at 8:39 p.m.

READ MORE ABOUT HOW POLICING WORKS IN L.A.:

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Long Beach Mayor Holds Moment Of Silence For Lives Lost To COVID-19, Including His Own Parents

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Today marks one year since Long Beach reported its first COVID-19 death. The city also hit another sobering milestone, as its death toll from the virus has now surpassed 900.

Mayor Robert Garcia led a moment of silence this afternoon, and offered condolences to the families of those lost. And for him, it's personal — his own mother and stepfather both died from COVID-19 complications last August:

"As a city, we mourn with you, we pray with you, we support you. And I personally, of course, understand how deep of a loss it is to lose family in this way. My family stands with every single family that has lost somebody."

Several city landmarks, including the Gerald Desmond Replacement Bridge and the Long Beach Airport, will be lit up with white lights tonight to honor all those who have died from COVID-19.

Health officials also announced they've recorded the city's first confirmed case of the more contagious UK variant. There are at least 47 cases across Los Angeles County.

You can watch the full update/memorial above.

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No Hero Pay For Pasadena Grocery Workers

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People shop at a grocery store during the pandemic. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A proposal to consider a temporary pay bump for Pasadena’s frontline workers, known as "hero pay," failed last night in a four-to-four vote in the City Council.

Those opposed to the measure, including councilmember Tyron Hampton, cited unintended consequences, such as price hikes and layoffs.

"To call this progressive — I'm sorry, it's not," Hampton said."At the end of the day, realistically, if they are going to lay off people, if they are going to cut people's hours, you know whose hours they are going to cut? People that look like me, and the people that are of color."

But Councilmember Jess Rivas, who supported the motion, argued grocery workers are in a unique situation.

"They've stepped up and put their health on the line to make sure that we've all been able to stay safer at home," Rivas said. "And in doing so, they face higher infection rates and mortality rates than the rest of us."

Long Beach and several other cities recently passed a temporary $4-per-hour increase. L.A., Santa Monica and West Hollywood approved similar measures, at the rate of $5-per-hour.

The California Grocers Association is challenging several of these ordinances in court.

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LA City Council Passes Program To Help Residents With Back Rent

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(Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

With renters owing thousands of dollars in back rent since the pandemic started, the L.A. City Council today announced an additional $259 million for its COVID-19 Emergency Renters Relief Program. That's more than twice what it provided last year.

The average renter owes between $4,000 and $7,000, according to City Council President Nury Martinez.

To qualify, your combined household income must be at or below 50% of the median income – for a family of four, that's about $56,000.

Martinez said the program is aimed at those who are most in need:

"I know the daily struggle of the working poor people who have worked for decades to escape poverty. Working in back of houses, in restaurants, looking after other people's children and working in factories, all of this, only to run into the risk of facing it again during this crisis."

The relief program can pick up 80% of your back rent if your landlord agrees to cover the remaining 20%. If the landlord doesn't agree, the program will cover one-quarter of your back rent and one-quarter of your upcoming rent for the next three months.

The application window opens at 8 a.m. on March 30 and runs through April 30. Renters and landlords can apply by phone with L.A.'s Housing and Community Investment Department, or via its website at https://hcidla.lacity.org/.

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LA County Nearly Doubles Size of Program That Diverts People With Mental Illness From Jail

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L.A.'s Twin Towers Correctional Facility. (Robert Garrova/LAist)

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted today to nearly double the size of a program that diverts people with a mental illness who are incompetent to stand trial into community-based treatment.

With the county accepting about $35 million in additional state funds for the expansion, the Office of Diversion and Reentry will increase the number of beds available in its Felony Incompetent to Stand Trial program from 215 to 415.

Advocates had pushed for the county to accept the increased funding from the state, citing too many people languishing in county jail as they await transfer to a mental health facility.

This move comes at a time when there are more people with mental health issues in L.A. County’s jails than ever — more than 6,000. Pamila Lew, senior attorney at Disability Rights California, called the vote “fantastic, very welcome news.”

“This is the group of individuals who are considered the most difficult to meet the needs for and they’re the ones who have been left in jail."

READ OUR FULL STORY:

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The Echo Park Lake Homeless Community Is Bracing For The City To Clear The Park

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Protesters prepare for a city cleanup at a homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake in February 2020. (Sharon McNary/LAist)

Editor's Note: This story was updated on the morning of Wednesday, March 24.


Homeless residents and advocates are bracing for the city of Los Angeles to close Echo Park Lake and clear a tent community that has become a flashpoint in the debate about the city’s policies towards homeless encampments.

The coalition of community organizations, Services Not Sweeps, and people who live at the park say they have heard from sources at the city that the announcement to shut the park down will come later Wednesday and will presumably include a timeline for evictions.

"They're doing it all in secret," said Ayman Ahmed, who added that he has lived at the lake for more than a year.


Read More About Wednesday's Protest: Echo Park Lake Homeless Community On Park Closure: 'This Won't Be Easy' >>


Tony Arranaga, a spokesperson for City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who represents the area, would not confirm the timing but indicated a closure was imminent.

"We are working with several City departments to temporarily close the park to repair more than half-a-million dollars in damage," Arranaga said. "When the official notice of the closure is posted by the Department of Recreation and Parks, our office will alert the public and the media."

Arranaga emphasized that O'Farrell had partnered with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to place "more than 100 people living at the lake into safe housing and shelter" in recent weeks through Project Roomkey, Project Homekey, and shorter term shelter beds.

"[The park] will close soon, and notices will go up, and then we’ll all know," O’Farrell said today at an unrelated press conference when asked about the rumored city cleanup.

Ahmed estimates the current population of the encampment on the north side of the park to be about 50 people. That doesn't include people living in cars and RVs parked around the lake. He's planning on joining his neighbors and advocacy groups at a 7 a.m. protest on Wednesday.

Eviction rumors have been swirling for weeks, overshadowing a recent wedding ceremony between two lake residents.

Last January, park residents asked for a meeting with O'Farrell and protesters blocked cleanup crews, fearing sanitation workers and park rangers would discard tents and other belongings.

COVID-19 brought a respite, according to a statement from the Echo Park Tent Community.

"The biggest pandemic in years actually turned out to be a blessing for us," the statement said. "Without the constant LAPD and city harassment uprooting our lives we've been able... to come together as a community, not just unhoused but housed as well, and work together for the mutual aid and benefit of each other."

Ahmed called the city's plan to clear the park a short-term bandage that won't fix the larger problem — a lack of affordable housing in the city of L.A.

"For every person [sheltered], two more come with no tent, no blankets, with nothing — and we provide help," Ahmed said. "It's a homeless epidemic. And this [sweep] is purely for PR and purely for Mitch [O'Farrell] to get reelected."


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Long Beach's LGBT Pride Lifeguard Station Was Destroyed By Fire Last Night

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This shell is all that remains of a lifeguard station in Long Beach that was painted with by LGBTQ+ lifeguards. Officials on March 23 said the station had been destroyed by fire. (Courtesy City of Long Beach)

Authorities in Long Beach are investigating a fire that destroyed a beachside lifeguard tower that was painted in rainbow colors for LGBT Pride.

LGBT-identifying members of the city's Marine Safety Division decked it out in rainbow colors last year to commemorate LGBT Pride Month. Long Beach Fire Department officials say it quickly became a popular meeting spot and photo opportunity for beachgoers.

The tower, located along the city's beach bike path near 12th Place, went up in flames sometime around midnight last night.

While the exact circumstances of the fire are under investigation, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said today he believes it was an act of hate. At a news conference focused on COVID-19 today, Garcia said:

"To whoever committed this act, just please know that: one, you are not welcome in our community. And two, that we will rebuild the lifeguard station, brighter, gayer, and bigger than it was before."

Garcia says the last time a lifeguard station burned down in the city happened sometime in the 1950s.

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Why This LA Mom And Her Two Teens Volunteered For COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

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Aubry Deetjen getting the second injection of her vaccine trial. (Courtesy of Lisa Henderson)

In 2013, Mark Deetjen had a simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant.

The organs worked until 2020 when his body began to reject the new liver, which caused a heart attack.

Deetjen’s recovering, but the medications he takes suppress his immune system, leaving him very vulnerable to infection. As coronavirus cases surged, his wife and two teenagers came up with a way to try to protect him -- volunteer for experimental COVID-19 vaccine trials.

“It just feels like you're being part of the solution, not part of the problem,” said his 15-year-old daughter Aubry Deetjen.

READ OUR FULL STORY ON THE FAMILY’S DECISION HERE:

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Morning Brief: Testing Out Vaccines, Increasing Cybersecurity, And Buying Music In Person

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A residential neighborhood in Rosemead. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A. It’s March 23.

Coronavirus vaccinations are now well underway. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 126 million doses have been administered in the U.S.

In L.A., eligibility now includes anyone over the age of 65, folks between the ages of 16 and 64 with certain health conditions, a number of frontline and essential workers, and more. But for some local families, there was no time to wait until everyone qualified. My colleague Jackie Fortiér spoke with a family in South Pasadena that chose to participate in vaccine trials to keep the father, who is immunocompromised, safe.

Mark Deetjen, 50, had simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplants due to damage caused by Type 1 diabetes, and later had a heart attack. His wife, Lisa Henderson, read about the possibility of participating in trials before Mark — or anyone else in the family, including their two teenage children — was eligible for the vaccine.

“It just seemed like an obvious way for us to protect him,” she said.

Enrolling was straightforward, and now Lisa and the couple’s 18-year-old son are testing a vaccine by Novavax, which is in Phase 3 trials, and the couple’s 15-year-old daughter is part of a study that tests the Moderna vaccine in adolescents.

According to the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society, more than a dozen vaccines have been authorized around the world, and nearly 60 are in trials or development. Gov. Gavin Newsom has predicted that all Californians will be eligible by the end of April, and President Biden recently announced that there will be enough doses for all Americans by the end of May.

For families such as the Henderson/Deetjens, participating in vaccine trials has been a way to be part of the solution — and to grow closer in a time of stress and hardship.

"Just the fact that everybody around me cared enough to do that,” said Mark, “is incredibly humbling.”

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

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What Else You Need To Know Today


Before You Go … This Week’s Pick: A Quiet Scene: L.A., Official Selections

The Music Center and dublab will screen selections from their recent 'A Quiet Scene: L.A. film competition.on the plaza. (From Donald Parungao's 'Chinatown,' courtesy of the Music Center)

A Quiet Scene: L.A. asked people to submit an original short film that reflected the city during the pandemic, scored to tracks from Roger and Brian Eno's Luminous EP. Starting this week, official selections will be screened at The Music Center plaza in downtown.

Or, some other options: Learn about Orange County's wildflowers. Watch a livestreamed sunset concert from Griffith Park. Visit the Bowers Museum or the Petersen Auto Museum — in person. Scarf down pretzels, plant-based hot dogs and boysenberry treats. And more.


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