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Morning Brief: 32,000 Pounds Of Fireworks, 120 Degrees, And Decriminalized Acid

Six orange metal tubes used to shoot fireworks are shown.
Fireworks mortar tubes. (Photo by Tooykrub/Shutterstock)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s July 8.

Last week, Angelenos from miles away heard a thunderous explosion when the L.A. Police Department used an armored container to detonate a cache of illegal fireworks in a residential neighborhood. The container exploded, injuring 17 people and damaging surrounding property.

Now, residents of the area are calling for accountability.

My colleague Julia Paskin reports that the South Central Neighborhood Council unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the city compensate residents for injuries, property damage and emotional distress.

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The neighborhood group is also demanding that police immediately vacate the area, that the city pay for temporary housing for those forced to evacuate, and that the person or people who made the call to detonate be fired and face criminal charges.

Authored by Ron Gochez, the council’s vice president, the resolution states that the LAPD officers involved in the detonation failed to evacuate residents, endangering their lives and their property. It calls the decision to detonate the explosives in the middle of a residential area “reckless and potentially life-threatening.”

Kumeka Joseph-Stratford, who lives directly in front of where the blast took place, told LAist that she only got word to evacuate by chance, when she happened to walk outside and saw LAPD officers and the bomb squad. After the container exploded in front of her home, she said officers told her to take her family to a homeless shelter.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore is standing by his officers, instead blaming the container for the explosion.

“Protocols were followed and pursued,” he said, but there was a “total catastrophic failure of that containment vehicle.”

Altogether, law enforcement officials found 32,000 pounds of fireworks and explosives at the home of Arturo Ceja III on East 27th Street. He said he purchased them from a dealer in Pahrump, Nevada.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Two teams of state investigators will conduct parallel investigations into fatal police shootings of unarmed civilians, with one team based in L.A.
  • A panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit Court heard an appeal from the City and County of L.A. to overturn a federal judge’s injunction regarding homelessness.
  • Temperatures could hit 115 degrees this week and 120 degrees over the weekend in the high desert areas of Hesperia, Victorville and Apple Valley.
  • The L.A. County Sheriff's Department announced a massive, week-long crackdown on illegal marijuana grow operations in the Antelope Valley, resulting in the seizure of what it says is more than $1 billion worth of pot.
  • Scientists at UCLA have confirmed a link between human-driven climate change and extreme precipitation.

Before You Go ... Decriminalized Acid?

Los Angeles (Photo by richham14 via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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A bill making its way through Sacramento could decriminalize some psychedelic drugs in California.

San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener introduced SB-519 in February. If passed, it would allow Californians 21 and older to possess certain psychedelics for personal use. These include mescaline, LSD, MDMA, DMT, psilocybin, psilocyn and ibogaine — but not ketamine.

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