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Morning Brief: Harassment At LAFD, Avoiding A Strike, And Palm Springs Pride

LAFD fire truck (Photo by RuggyBearLA via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Oct. 18.

Firefighters are frequently thought of as heroes, but a number of women working for the L.A. Fire Department say that when it comes to the department’s treatment of their female colleagues, the opposite is true.

Through interviews with nearly two dozen current and former firefighters, my colleague Libby Denkmann reports that LAFD is a fraught, and at times dangerous, place for women to work, and that previous efforts to reform the culture have largely failed.

She writes:

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“While serving the city of L.A, [female firefighters] face verbal abuse, isolation, hostile pranks and training exercises designed to humiliate. Sometimes, sexual harassment and threats of violence — in a few cases, assault. Speaking out or reporting problems is rare in the face of peer pressure, intimidation and retaliation.”
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Some of the people Libby spoke to came forward in response to a 2019 letter written by former LAFD firefighter Katie Becker, who left her job with the department shortly before penning the missive. In the letter, Becker described LAFD as “full [of] bigoted men who actively tried to make me and most of my coworkers miserable.”

Another female firefighter, who described abuse at the hands of her male colleagues, said that her job is now about, “getting through the shift and going home. One shift at a time. One hour at a time. That’s all you can do.”

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • The union for Hollywood’s artisans and technicians has reached a tentative agreement with film and television producers and avoided an impending strike.
  • The Alisal Fire had burned more than 17,000 acres and was 78% contained as of Sunday morning.
  • Thousands of California’s health care workers are walking off the job and onto the picket line, demanding more staffing.
  • Part of MacArthur Park closed at the end of last week. What will happen to those who were living there?

Before You Go ... Palm Springs Pride Returns

A person holds a pride flag

After being canceled last year due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the Palm Springs Pride Festival will return in-person this year, during the first week of November. Activists and allies will be honored, including Race Bannon, a longtime contributor to one of Northern California’s leading LGBTQ newspapers.

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