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A $1M Fund Will Help South LA Residents Recover From Botched LAPD Fireworks Detonation

Crowd looks over firework detonation site on a blocked road in South LA.
A crowd gathers at the site of the June 30 firework detonation in South L.A.
(Austin Cross
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L.A. City Council Member Curren Price is setting aside $1 million for residents affected by last month's botched fireworks detonation by the LAPD.

Families displaced or otherwise still reeling from the blast can spend the money on repairs, food, or anything else they need. Price said the funds are necessary to help those residents recover from the damage and trauma of the explosion.

"The council office wants to step up to the plate, providing these resources now," Price said at a news conference Wednesday. "Not 10 months from now when people will submit a report or 10 weeks from now when they gather up some receipts. But now."

The money comes from a portion of the LAPD budget that the city diverted away from the department, following calls to steer money out of policing services after last year's protests over the murder of George Floyd. Price set aside some of his district's portion of that money to address environmental equity.

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"We think this is certainly an appropriate use of these funds, impacting the environment in a way that directly impacted the lives of these citizens," Price said.

The fund is also separate from any legal settlement that victims may get from the city.

'We Need...Immediate Restoration Of People's Lives'

Price has been sharply critical of the LAPD's actions that led to the damage, saying he was "infuriated" by the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' initial findings of what went wrong. His announcement of the fund came a day after activists demanded reparations in the wake of the explosion, which injured 17 people and caused widespread property damage.

The damage was caused when the LAPD tried to detonate thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks discovered at a house in South L.A. in late June. Officers placed some of the fireworks in a special vessel designed to contain such a detonation but it exploded. Earlier this week, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the ATF's preliminary finding is that officers underestimated the weight of the explosives they placed in the vessel.

Members of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles gathered outside LAPD headquarters on Tuesday to called for the city to repair the harm caused. Black Lives Matter organizer Paula Minor said addressing this harm requires helping affected residents apply for damages.

"We need to have apologies. We need to have immediate restoration of people's lives," she said. "There needs to be immediate reparations and compensation for that damage. Some people still cannot go into their house."

Minor calls Moore's explanation an excuse and said the city shouldn't wait to help those who were affected.

On Monday, Price announced on Twitter that his office was launching a resource center at the 28th Street YMCA, where affected residents can file a claim as well as receive mental health and other supportive services.

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Updated July 22, 2021 at 4:16 PM PDT
This headline was updated to more accurately refer what took place as a detonation.
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