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Criminal Justice

Victims Of Botched LAPD Fireworks Detonation To LA Mayor: Fix Our Homes, Now

A man in a red shirt wearing a black mask with a bullhorn on a strap hanging from his neck holds up a piece of paper in front of LA City Hall. Just below him a man in a red, black and white plaid shirt aims a camera at him. People surround the speaker with signs. One holds up a yellow sign that says "fix our homes." Another holds a sign that says "justicia para las víctimas."
Ron Gochez, who helped organize Monday’s action, delivers the letter —signed by more than a dozen residents of the neighborhood — to city hall.
(Robert Garrova
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Residents of homes damaged or destroyed by the LAPD’s botched June 30 detonation of illegal fireworks are demanding the city immediately complete repair work.

They laid out their demands — which include financial help for everyone affected by the blast —in a letter delivered Monday to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's office.

“It’s really shameful that we have to come here to city hall — more than six weeks after the explosion — to demand basic things,” said Ron Gochez, who helped organize the protest of more than two dozen people who marched from LAPD Headquarters to L.A. City Hall.

Who Is Affected

There are about 25 households — roughly 80 people — who are still displaced because of the blast, according to Angelina Valencia-Dumarot, spokesperson for City Councilmember Curren Price, who represents the area where the incident occurred. Those families are staying at a downtown hotel as they wait for the completion of repairs.

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“We are trying to fix those homes fast and furiously,” Valencia-Dumarot said Monday. She noted that Price’s office is covering the hotel costs, and has provided each household with a $10,000 check out of a $1 million fund Price set up.

Valencia-Dumarot added that three addresses were still red-tagged, with officials waiting on the owner of two addresses to sign off on a structural engineer’s assessment.

Photos displayed at LAPD press conference on the preliminary findings of investigation into botched fireworks detonation: (L) The damage to total containment vessel is seen with before and after photos. The after photo shows a destroyed truck (R) Some of the damage from fireworks detonation to surrounding community. A destroyed van and a damaged coin laundry business are pictured.
Photos displayed at the July 19 LAPD press conference on the preliminary findings of the investigation into the fireworks detonation: (L) The damage to the total containment vessel; (R) Some of the damage to the surrounding community.
(Robert Garrova / LAist)

What The Residents Want

The letter to Garcetti demands the city provide a written guarantee that it will continue to pay for displaced families' housing until they can return to their homes.

Price’s office is prepared to to keep covering people’s hotel costs or find longer-term housing if needed, Valencia-Dumarot said, adding, “they’re definitely not going to be left out on the street.”

The letter also calls on the city to provide financial help to everyone affected by the incident.

Mario Delgado said he has not received any financial assistance from the city. He said he was home with his family five houses down from the explosion when it happened, but Gochez said they were not forced out of their home. Delgado said he needs help because he was fired from his job as a window washer for missing three days of work after the blast.

The Back Story

It’s been more than six weeks since the LAPD failed to safely detonate part of a cache of more than 32,000 pounds of illegal fireworks, causing an explosion that ripped through the neighborhood around 27th Street and San Pedro in South L.A. The explosion injured 17 people, displaced dozens and caused severe damage to homes and businesses.

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The protesters' letter also called on the LAPD to release the names of the bomb squad officers who gave the order to detonate the explosives, and to have criminal charges filed against those responsible for the explosion.

Dozens of community members and organizers attended a vigil last Friday night for two elderly residents of the neighborhood — Auzie Houchins and Ramon Reyes — who have died since the June 30 explosion.

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