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Morning Brief: LASD Investigation Demanded, Minimum Wage Bump, And A Japanese Garden

Twin Towers Correctional Facilities. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 4.

Last week, my colleague Emily Elena Dugdale published an investigation into allegations that L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies were flouting mask rules at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown, discouraging people incarcerated there from getting vaccinated, and defacing COVID-19 informational signs inside the jail.

In response, an oversight panel has demanded an immediate investigation by L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva into the allegations. 

“These reports are alarming, and require immediate departmental investigation because of the gravity of the issues presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Commission Executive Director Brian Williams wrote in a letter sent to Villanueva on Wednesday.

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The original allegations were made by mental health personnel at the jail, who requested to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation by the deputies. They said that deputies inside the jail, many of whom are not vaccinated, don’t wear masks or wear them incorrectly.

Deputies also come to work with COVID-19 symptoms after testing positive for the virus and even compare their symptoms with one another.

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The oversight panel requested that the Sheriff provide them with an update by Feb. 16. about what steps were taken to investigate the complaints.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Minimum wage in L.A. will increase from $15 per hour to $16.04 per hour as of July 1, 2022.
  • L.A. County health officials announced that indoor masking requirements may be loosened when COVID-19 transmission drops to “moderate.” 
  • Parking will be a nightmare at SoFi stadium for the upcoming games, so we tested a public transit route. 
  • Surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding will be included in the 2028 Olympic Games here in L.A. 
  • Burnout and COVID-19 is causing California homeless service workers to leave.
  • Mel Mermelstein, an Auschwitz survivor who worked tirelessly to ensure the world knew of the horrors he saw at concentration camps, died from COVID-19 complications in his Long Beach home last week. He was 95.
  • The Tongan American community in Southern California is working on relief efforts to help Tonga which has been devastated recently by natural disasters, but say they are struggling to get the Biden White House to work with them.

Before You Go ... This Weekend's Outdoor Pick: The Japanese Garden

A look at the serene Japanese Garden in Van Nuys from near the tea house.
(Steven Miller)

SuihoEn, a 6.5-acre oasis of tranquility located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley (Van Nuys), reopened to the public earlier this week. Walk and meditate through the grounds, which were fashioned after strolling gardens created on the estates of Japanese feudal lords during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Or, you could: Celebrate the Lunar New Year at events throughout SoCal. Commemorate Black History Month through art, music, and community. Go forest bathing. Take part in a fitness fair. Watch Licorice Pizza in 70 mm. Attend the inaugural Cali Vibes music festival. And more.

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