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Morning Brief: Abuse Of Inmates, Tinned Seafood, And RuPaul’s DragCon

A Los Angeles Sheriff's Department police cruiser sedan sits in front of a bank of payphones on a sidewalk in front of a fenced-off concrete building labeled as Los Angeles County Sheriff Men's Central Jail
Outside view of the Men Central Jail, May 12, 2020
AFP via Getty Images)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 13.

In 2015, monitors were assigned to the L.A. County jail system to act as watchdogs to curb a pattern of rampant inmate abuse by sheriff’s deputies.

Now, my colleague Leslie Berestein Rojas reports that a federal judge has directed the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to come up with a plan to address the excessive force issues with the help of the jail monitors and lawyers representing incarcerated people.  

The directive comes on the heels of a report from two jail monitors last month that said deputies are still using “head shots” (punching inmates in the head), while progress addressing excessive force has plateaued. In some cases, they said, it’s gotten worse:

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“The use of ‘head shots’... where prohibited by policy, has been relatively unchanged in the last two years or more, and may be increasing,” according to the monitors.“No issue has been discussed more with management over the last six years and especially in the last two years, to little avail.”

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The jail monitors were put in place as a type of settlement after a class action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which cited the deputies’ abuse, and alleged that then-Sheriff Lee Baca knew about the abuse and did nothing to stop it.

According to Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel with the ACLU, the judge wants the parties “to put together … a roadmap to bring the department into compliance” with the consent decree, and has scheduled another status conference for Aug. 15.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • A fast-moving wildfire has burned approximately 24 homes and forced the evacuation of 900 households in Laguna Niguel. 
  • A street cleanup along Vermont Avenue in Pico-Union, which sits along the El Salvador Community Corridor, is causing confusion and anxiety for street vendors who work there.
  • L.A. City Councilmember Joe Buscaino dropped out of the race for mayor and endorsed businessman Rick Caruso. 
  • Veterans face unique challenges when seeking higher education.
  • California has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the nation, but even liberals show reluctance to the proposed policies aiming to reduce the gap. That’s because they believe inequality is a zero-sum game.
  • California schools with large numbers of high-needs students have always struggled to find substitute teachers, but this year’s omicron surge brought them to a breaking point.
  • Tinned seafood is a longtime staple in countries like Spain and Portugal, and these marine tidbits have now started popping up on the menus of L.A. restaurants. Spots like Silverlake’s Rápido and the newly-minted DTLA bar Kippered boast platters of multi-colored tins lined up beside crusty baguettes and hefty pours of fine wine.

Before You Go ... This Weekend's Event Pick: RuPaul's DragCon

Two people in drag: One is in a black cowboy hat and pink hair, the other person wears an Elizabethean collar.
Veronica Pearl and Tygress pose for a portrait at RuPaul's DragCon LA 2019 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on May 25, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
(Mario Tama/Getty Images
Getty Images North America)

The world's largest all-ages, family-friendly celebration of drag returns. In addition to vendors and panel discussions, RuPaul’s DragCon at the L.A. Convention Center will feature stars from RuPaul's Drag Race, a Golden Girls installation-activation with a re-creation of the girls’ kitchen — plus lots of photo opportunities.

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Having a hard time accessing your inner fierceness this weekend? You could: Bring your dog to a “wooftop” screening. Join in the Getty’s 25th anniversary celebration in Inglewood. Open your mind to alternate realities. And more.

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