Author: lafocus

Advocates Say State’s $10 Million Fund for Ethnic Media Is “Great Start”

By Sunita Sohrabji | Special to California Black Media

In recognition of a mass communication sector that has been struggling from dwindling advertising dollars and intense competition from well-funded media conglomerates and a field of small niche publishers since the inception of the internet, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature appropriated $10 million in new funding for ethnic media in the state budget for 2021-22.

The funding was approved as part of the Asian Pacific Islander Equity Budget created to respond to the surge in hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. It will be used to improve outreach to Asian and Pacific Islanders as well as other underserved California communities, including African Americans and Latinos.

The money will be channeled through state agencies working with Asian, African Americans, Latino and other ethnic media outlets who have audiences of monolingual and underserved communities, according to the governor’s office.

Advocates who have been fighting in the trenches for decades to include minority-owned media in state outreach programs say the funding is historic because it earmarks funds specifically aimed at expanding communications with ethnic and racial populations through ethnic-owned media with an eye to creating more racial equity in the state. They say these outlets play a critical role in preserving the country’s democratic system by holding institutions, public and private, accountable and informing the public.

“It recognizes the indispensable role ethnic media play to inform, educate and engage our communities about critical issues that impact their lives, said Sandy Close, director of Ethnic Media Services (EMS).

“It also provides a template that can later be scaled for requiring state agencies to include the full spectrum of ethnic media — including hyper-local outlets traditionally excluded in media buys by advertising agencies — in their public awareness campaigns to our underserved communities,” she added.

Regina Wilson, executive director of California Black Media (CBM), applauded the appropriation, too, she also thanked ethnic press for always finding a way to crank out valuable and high-quality journalism even though many of them are under-resourced.

“This is an exciting news, she said.

Wilson said the murder of Minnesota resident George Floyd by a White police officer, Derek Chauvin, who has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison, alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, has served as an inflection point for communities of color. “It has made us look at our humanity. We are neighbors who must stand up for one another.”

Wilson said the funding is a good start, but more work needs to be done and is concerned that the two longest serving ethnic media advocacy groups in the state, EMS and CBM, were not included in the discussions that led to the allocation.

Close and Wilson say CBM and EMS will be convening a briefing with government and ethnic media leaders to make sure the funds truly benefit the full spectrum of minority-owned media in the state.

Company Will Pay You $125 to Participate in Research Project

Manny Otiko | California Black Media

Evitarus, a Black-owned Los Angeles-based public opinion research firm, is surveying African Americans in California to gauge opinions on healthcare and racism. The goal of the project, the company says, is to gather data that can influence healthcare policy.

“We are conducting one of the largest scale studies of Black people in the US regarding their perspectives on health and experiences with health care,” said Shakari Byerly, partner and principal researcher at Evitarus.

“This research will be focused on Black Californians with the goal of changing both practice and policy as it relates to health care delivery and the elimination of racism in the health care system in California,” Byerly added.

People Evitarus select for the one-hour interview will be paid $125 for their time. Researchers plan to interview 3,200 people.

During the second phase of the survey, researchers will conduct interviews with African Americans to discuss their personal experiences with the healthcare system, healthcare disparities and the impact of racism.

Participants in the survey need a stable, high-speed internet connection since the interviews are all being conducted via Zoom. The researchers are also asking potential interviewees to make sure that they have access to a quiet room and a dedicated telephone, and that they should be willing to share their experiences and opinions for approximately one hour.

Byerly, former director of the California Governance Project at the Center for Governmental Studies, is also a National Academy of Sciences Ford Foundation Fellow, a Rev. James Lawson Teaching Fellow at UCLA, and a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

She is also active in a number of African American-focused statewide and local civic and community-based organizations, including serving on the boards of Black Women Organized for Political Action, the African American Community Empowerment Council, and the Los Angeles African American Women’s Political Action Committee.

Byerly said, with the study, Evitarus intends to do a deep dive into the demographics of African Americans in California.

“We are especially interested in reaching Californians in harder to reach segments of our community, including those 70+ years of age, men of all ages, the LGBTQ+ community, lower income Black Californians, and those in key regions such as the Far North, Central Valley, Central Coast, and Orange County and San Diego counties,” she said. “That said, all Black Californians are encouraged to participate.”

For more information, visit https://evitarus.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_enXQ1qkDsWWQfau.

Reparations Task Force Agrees It Needs the Ideas, Input of Black Californians

Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

On July 9, California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans held its second meeting in a series of 10.

During the Zoom conference, the group’s nine members shared differing views on how to best get Black Californians involved in their deliberations.

But they all agreed on one key point: having voices and ideas of African Americans across the state influence their conversations would be the best approach to successfully accomplish their work.

“A lot of things that’s important is we as a task force not let ourselves operate in a vacuum,” said Dr. Cheryl Grills, a member of the task force and professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Not to assume that the public comments that happen at the end of our meetings are adequate to represent the community voice.”

Grills delivered a presentation titled “A Community Engagement Strategy for Taskforce Consideration.” In it, she put forth a plan to get Black Californians involved.

Grills suggested the task force hosts “listening sessions” across the state since it only has limited time to assess California’s role in slavery and Jim Crow discrimination — and follow that work up with developing resolutions to compensate African Americans for past and ongoing race-based injustices.

Regions in the southern, northern, and central part of the state (where many Black farmers reside) should be involved in the process, said Grills. The “listening sessions would go beyond” formal task force meetings and would not infringe upon scheduled discussions, Grills added.

The intent, she said, would be to involve Black Californians from varying backgrounds.

“Black folks exist in an ecosystem and the system includes a diverse, cultural base of people, social class, education levels, etc.,” said Grills. “So how do we make sure that those people are impacted. They need to be at the table.”

Through news coverage, Grills also suggested the National Association of Black Journalists could play a role in keeping the ongoing discourse about reparations “in the forefront and minds” of the Black community.

Lisa Holder, Esq. a nationally recognized trial attorney and task force member, emphasized that the proposal she prepared was not “in conflict” with Grills’ outreach plan and that her proposal offered a framework within which the task force can draw up its strategy to move forward.

Holder told fellow task force members that she and Grills are on the same page.

“This plan, for a lack of a better word, is in alignment with the blueprint we just saw (presented by Grills),” Holder clarified. “Grills focuses a little bit more on the details of how we can implement the community engagement plan. This outline I put together is a little bit broader and more of a concept.”

The meeting’s other seven participants were task force chair Kamilah V. Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; vice-chair Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s; Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena);Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles); San Diego Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe; Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley; and Attorney Don Tamaki, Esq. is an attorney best known for his role in the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States. Tamaki overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu who refused to be taken into custody during the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in World War II.

After hearing Grills’ presentation, Brown raised concerns about transparency.

He also said that other groups around the state should have an opportunity to present a plan for community engagement.

“What will we do around this state without our giving due diligence to announce to everybody, that you can present a plan, too?” Brown asked. “Whether it’s northern, central California, whatever. We talk about transparency, but if we are going to be about it, then we should be about it.”

The task force voted 8-0 to consider both Holder’s and Grills’ community engagement plans. Brown opposed the motion and abstained, withholding his vote.

Bradford said he favored a “blending” of the two proposals. Both Grills and Bradford suggested that the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and the Mervyn Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute at California State University Dominguez Hills could assist in facilitating the statewide listening sessions, possibly through the California Department of Justice. Both academic research institutes are located in Southern California.

Steppe expressed confidence in her colleagues and the process.

“The (Black) community is going to play a huge role in getting whatever we present across the finish line,” she promised.

The task force also agreed to move public comments during the meeting from the end to the beginning of the sessions. Public comments will also expand from two minutes to three, Moore announced.

Shark Tank’s Daymond John Joins Lowe’s In Offering Small Businesses Once-In-A-Lifetime Shot

Daymond John, star of ABC’s Shark Tank, is once again teaming up with Lowe’s Home Improvement stores for it’s “Making It” program, which offers businesses a once-in-a-lifetime shot to pitch their product to top Lowe’s executives. The product pitching competition strives to provide diverse entrepreneurs the opportunity to boost their business by being sold on Lowes.com or in Lowe’s stores nationwide.

According to Small Business Majority, nearly one-third of minority small businesses in the United States were forced to close due to the pandemic. Lowe’s not only strives to be a champion in supplier diversity but hopes to give diverse small business owners the tools to overcome an overwhelming number of obstacles.

John, who hosted Lowe’s first Making It… With Lowe’s event in 2020 will once again be lending his own entrepreneurial advice to the program’s finalists.

“Making It… With Lowe’s shines a light on the remarkable stories of small business owners who are often overlooked and underrepresented,” said John. “Last year’s program underscored the importance of giving entrepreneurs an opportunity to break through traditional processes. This year, as so many diverse small business owners begin the recovery process, it is even more important to provide them with a much-deserved space to succeed.”

“As a company that began as a single store 100 years ago, we know firsthand how important small businesses are to the communities they serve. Through Making It… With Lowe’s, we can help diverse entrepreneurs reach their dreams of growing and scaling their businesses, all while helping us find innovative, clever and solution-driven products that we’re proud to offer,” said Marvin R. Ellison, Chairman and CEO of Lowe’s. “Making It… With Lowe’s is an extension of our commitment to underserved communities and helps us ensure our products are as diverse as our associates and customers.”

Through July 30, diverse small business owners who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, minorities, people with disabilities, veterans and women are encouraged to apply at Lowes.com/MakingItWithLowes with innovative products both in and beyond home improvement categories.

Recapping the Urban League’s 2021 State of Black America Report

Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic not only unmasked the stark racial inequities in the nation’s economic, health care and public safety status quo, but it gave rise to a fierce resistance to that status quo and fueled demand for racial justice that grows more intense with each passing month.

That’s according to the National Urban League’s 2021 State of Black America® report, “The New Normal: Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive.”

“The United States finds itself at crossroads of racial reckoning,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “One path leads backward, toward the “old normal:” a return to the marginalization, discrimination, and segregation that left Black and Brown Americans exceptionally vulnerable to a deadly virus and economic desperation.  The other path leads toward a nation where police approach the communities they serve as allies and collaborators, and not hostile combatants; where every citizen has equal access to the ballot box, where fatal complications in pregnancy are just as rare for Black mothers as for as white mothers, where the value of a home is not determined by the race of its owner.”

Some of the findings came as little surprise including the fact that higher unemployment, lower net worth and increasingly unaffordable housing made Black Americans particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and the economic fallout from it.

One pandemic threatened America, the report states. Three pandemics ravaged its communities of color.

The New Normal: Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive makes the case that dismantling structural racism —  identifying and repairing the cracks in our national foundation – will result in more resilient and dynamic institutions that expand opportunity for everyone,” Morial said. “To quote a flippant sentiment frequently shared on social media, equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It’s not pie.”

Analysis from research partners  Brookings InstitutionJohns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, and Center for Policing Equity not only revealed how structural and institutional racism magnified the devastation inflicted by COVID-19 infection and death, economic collapse and police violence, but also offered a glimpse of a more equitable future.

The report includes a focus on two major policy proposals the National Urban League developed in 2021 to address racial inequities in public safety and the economy.  21 Pillars for Redefining Public Safety and Restoring Community Trust is a comprehensive framework for criminal justice advocacy that takes a holistic approach to public safety, the restoration of trust between communities and law enforcement, and a path forward for meaningful change. 

Each of the 21 Pillars addresses one of five goals for transforming public safety, including holding police accountable in court, banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, conducting financial and operational audits of police departments and preventing police union contracts from blocking accountability.

With close to 17 percent of Black households lacking basic financial services and forced to rely on check cashing centers or payday loans—which cost 50-100% more per month—the Urban League is looking to a new normal for banking.

The report cited Mobility Capital Finance, or MoCaFi, which provides free or low-cost financial services to low- and moderate-income individuals who are underserved, discriminated against or shut out from traditional banks as an example. Customers who pay their rent with a MoCaFi debit card can choose to have those payments reported to credit reporting agencies, thus rebuilding their credit scores. MoCaFi’s partnerships with minority-owned small businesses give account holders access to discounts on goods and services.

The pandemic also highlighted the high cost of childcare and how much the Black workforce depends on it.

“Without it [childcare], hundreds of thousands of working parents have had to leave the workforce,” said Erin Robinson of the Center for American Progress. “It’s why economists and Americans of every political stripe agree that our economic recovery depends on boosting federal investment in childcare. Put simply: Childcare is a matter of racial, economic, and gender equity and is crucial to the productivity and competitiveness of this country.”

Other critical areas covered in 2021 State of Black America Report include voter suppression legislation, broadband access and health inequities. For a look at the full report, visit www.stateofblackamerica.org. 

With Clemency from Former President Donald Trump, Corvain Cooper Resets His Life as Entrepreneur and Community Activist

Corvain Cooper knows what it is like to be behind prison walls and feel like the people you love the most have forgotten about you. He served seven years of a life sentence for a nonviolent marijauna conviction.

Since receiving clemency from former President Donald Trump before he left office in January, Corvain has hit the ground running, hoping to shine light on those whose individual stories are overshadowed within the fight for prison reform. 

Working as brand ambassador of 40 Tons Clothing, along with his business partner and CEO Loriel Alegrete, Cooper has found a unique lane of merging his past fashion pursuits within his current focus of cannabis equity and restorative justice.

“The people who you thought will remember you, will forget about you. I want to be the person who is not forgetting about the people serving life sentences,” Cooper said. “I know how it is sitting in the cell, looking at the wall, wishing you get some pictures or wishing to hear from somebody on the outside.” 

When Cooper was sentenced in 2014, he said that he never accepted “life in prison” as his final judgement. Although he understood the magnitude of the sentencing, he knew that everything close to him would crumble, including the future of his two young daughters. He also knew that the essence of who he was as a man would begin to fade and deteriorate. 

Two of his female co-defendants also received jail time in the case. 

As he sought different avenues to try and obtain freedom, this is when Cooper’s faith in God was really all he had to stand on, as well as the fact that thousands of people on the outside began to petition and rally for his freedom. 

His story landed on the front page of the Washington Post in 2020, as well as the BET documentary “Smoke” which shows how the war on drugs has systematically targeted Black communities with the criminalization of marijuana. 

Ivanka Trump would eventually hear of Cooper’s story and was touched not only by the hypocrisy of his sentence but also that he had two daughters that needed him. Although her father granted Cooper clemency and he was released from prison, since he did not receive a full pardon, he must still undergo ten years of parole and is limited in what he can do within the world of cannabis, especially at a time when there is so much growth in the market.

Despite these barriers, he has still been able to have his own strain of marijuana packaged and sold in the popular cookies marijuana dispensary.

For now, Cooper is focused on community events anywhere in L.A County and beyond where he can lend his resources, voice and lived experiences with 40 Tons. So far, 40 Tons has sponsored expungement clinics in South Central, as well as coding workshops for the youth. 

On September 3rd, they are hosting a job fair for the formerly incarcerated to obtain employment in Hawthorne. When you go to 40 Tons website you can choose to write to a prisoner or purchase a shirt directly from them and 100% of the proceeds will be put into their personal accounts. 

Another focus of Cooper’s, is catching up for lost time with his two daughters who are 15 and 11.

“They are with me right now,” Cooper reveals. “I got them working, showing them responsibility, how to trade stocks and how to get their own wealth so they won’t have to depend on anyone when they get older. That’s my basic strategy right now,”

Residents Still Seek Stability Three Weeks After LAPD Firework Explosion in South Central

Tina Samepay

South Central residents are still dealing with the consequences of the Los Angeles Police Department’s decision to detonate illegal fireworks in their residential neighborhood. Although people have been able to return to their homes after being temporarily displaced, remnants of the issue still ring loud.

The impact not only imploded the entire LAPD containment truck, it shattered the windows of several homes and sent debris flying into cars parked nearby. As ashes filled the air, so did an intense odor of gas.

“I honestly feel like LAPD as an organization must be re-evaluated. It makes no sense to me who would think this was a good idea,” Devon Williams said.

Williams is a local activist and community organizer. He is also involved in the South Central Neighborhood Council and a current student at the University of Southern California.

“I would like to see all folks who own property, life, pets or anything damaged to be compensated with funds. A big mistake was made which could have escalated into something worse,” Williams continued.

The approximately 32,0000 pounds of illegal fireworks that were detonated had been recovered from the home of 27-year-old Arturo Cejas III, who was taken into custody after neighbors tipped police to “suspicious” activity. Cejas has since been charged with transporting explosive devices without license as well as child endangerment charges, due to his 10-year-old brother being at the residence during the time of his arrest.

Local organizations around the 27th and San Pedro street community, as well as the local Neighborhood Council, continue to demand accountability from city officials and LAPD on behalf of residents.

They have held press conferences and are working with local law firms to provide resources directly to impacted residents.

“When people were first reaching out for support, the city was not returning their calls and sometimes it wears people out. We reached out to a local clinic that has therapy staff because people were not made aware of what was happening and just heard a loud boom,” Adriana Cabrera said.

Cabrera is a community organizer who recently placed her bid to run in Los Angeles City Council District 9, where the explosion happened.

One of the barriers is that the area’s undocumented residents fear retaliation from police if they ask for compensation from the blast.

Cabrera said that some residents received $2000 gift cards, which has only furthered their apprehension of demanding accountability from city leaders.

Community members like Cabrera who created a mutual aid fund for South Central residents during the coronavirus pandemic, have donated her time to help translate the claim site for residents. The site is in English, which is a huge barrier for some residents who only speak spanish.

The blast not only damaged property, it has also taken an emotional and mental toll due to how loud the blast was. Cabrera said that support for hearing has also been requested by residents and that it triggered PTSD for some older residents in the community.

Caberea canvassed the community after the blast, which she said reached several blocks and some of that damage is not counted for in LAPD’s statistics, which concerns her.

As L.A County prepared to celebrate the Fourth of July this year, a healing circle was requested by residents who were impacted. Some shared how the unexpected blast triggered bad memories from war in their home countries. Some pointed to the fact that just as they were getting through the pandemic lockdowns, they were further displaced and impacted by things out of their control.

“There is also business loss. We visited a family who has a business on the corner where it happened and they have been closed up since,” Cabrera illustrated.

A legal clinic was held today at the 28th street YMCA, which has been set up as a resource center providing residents with help such as filing a claim for damages.

Cynthia Santiago, who is a immigrant rights lawyer in L.A also working with the Alderman Firm, helped curate today’s legal and wellness clinic.

“Families lost their cars, they were living in motels and they were injured. As an attorney, the whole focus of my work is to be able to step in when people need legal resources,” Santiago said.

Santiago says that for her, getting involved was also motivated by the vague answers city leaders were giving at community forums.

“Many expressed to me that they left the Trinity Park forum upset that they were not given any clear answers to what was going to happen to them. So we linked up with community organizers and said let’s do our own workshops,” Santiago expressed.

LAPD Chief Michael Moore has now stated that police miscalculated the amount of fireworks that were detonated and they overloaded the explosive truck.

A gofundme account was set up to help those impacted with more immediate needs. The Link can be accessed at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/lapd-fireworks-accident-displaced-families

Former State Official Charges State Treasurer with Sexual Harassment

Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

Five months after Judith Blackwell was replaced as the head of two California state committees that oversee affordable housing bonds, she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against California State Treasurer Fiona Ma.

Blackwell, who is African American, accuses Ma of inappropriate behavior, including revealing her bare posterior on more than one occasion. San Francisco’s attorney Waukeen McCoy filed the complaint on Blackwell’s behalf.

The11-page “complaint for damages” filed in Sacramento County Superior Court on July 13 lists four other allegations: racial discrimination, wrongful termination, disability discrimination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In an email to the Sacramento Bee, Ma said she will defend herself against the allegations.

“I am saddened and disappointed by these baseless claims,” Ma wrote. “I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support I’ve received today. To set the record straight, we have repeatedly refused to respond to the attorney’s attempts to settle. We look forward to bringing the truth to light in court.”

Blackwell’s complaint alleges that Ma provided her with hotel rooms, dinners, jewelry, paintings, and “edible marijuana so that she could go to sleep.” Those charges are made in the “Statements of Facts” section of the complaint.

In September 2019, Blackwell was named Executive Director of the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC). CTCAC, and the closely related California Debt Limit Allocation Committee (CDLAC), are chaired by Treasurer Ma. They are considered two of the state’s most robust affordable housing programs.

In the complaint, Blackwell also alleges that she was relieved from her position in January 2020, and that she was given no cause or reason. It also states that Blackwell was replaced by a “less qualified Caucasian female.”

“When (Blackwell) was hired, Ms. Ma assured (Blackwell)that she would have the job for the six years Ms. Ma was the State Treasurer,” the complaint states.

In September 2020, Blackwell explains that she had a stroke and stayed home for two months. Upon her return to work in November 2020, two other individuals were “assigned to the role of Deputy Treasurer, which was the role Ms. Ma told the Plaintiff she would be promoted to,” the complaint stated.

Blackwell also claims that Ma was aware that she was recovering from a stroke and yet assigned her tasks that required two people to complete.

As the Executive Director for CTCAC, Blackwell said she increased housing by 30%. Court records also stated that Blackwell said she “developed and improved CTCAC regulations” and put together a suitable system to accommodate “an additional $500 million in State tax credits provided by the Governor and Legislature to pair with CTCAC’s 4% program.”

Blackwell also created a system to protect renters from being relocated in circumstances where CTCAC was providing funds for rehabilitation.

“(Blackwell) also researched and found a way for CTCAC to provide workforce housing for individuals working in schools from K-1 through K-12. During the time the Plaintiff was in her role, CTCAC went from a $100 million per year program to a $700 million per year program,” the complaint said.

Ma is California’s 34th State Treasurer. She was elected on Nov. 6, 2018. She made history then as the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position.

Her office processes more than $2 trillion in payments within a typical year and provides oversight for an investment portfolio of more than $90 billion, approximately $20 billion of which are local government funds. Ma also is also in charge of $85 billion in outstanding general obligation and lease revenue state bonds.

Prior to being elected Treasurer, she was an elected member of the California Board of Equalization from 2014 to 2018. Before that, she was a member of the State Assembly from 2006-2012, serving as Speaker pro Tempore from 2010 to 2012.

Blackwell has served as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Port of Oakland, the CFO of the City of Atlanta, and as Purchaser and Director of Contract Administration for the City and County of San Francisco.

She began her career as a public finance attorney, specializing in infrastructure projects. She also served as the Executive Director of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce.

Congresswoman Waters Demands Federal Probe into L.A. Sheriff’s Department “Executioners” Gang

Staff

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, is calling on  U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to take immediate action in directing the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the reports of a rogue, violent gang of law enforcement officers, who call themselves the “Executioners,” and operate within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD).

In a letter directed to Garland, Waters wrote: “I write to ask that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) take immediate action to address the reported existence of a rogue, violent gang of law enforcement officials, who call themselves the “Executioners,” operating within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), specifically the LASD Compton station. “…an LASD deputy provided sworn testimony identifying more than a dozen deputies with matching tattoos symbolizing their association with the Executioners gang… Deputies at the LASD Compton Station reportedly “chase ink”, a slang term for a deputy who attempts to win favor with the Executioners by committing violent acts in hopes of receiving the group tattoo denoting gang membership.”

“The gang allegedly sets illegal arrest quotas, threatens and harasses fellow deputies, and holds parties after shootings, called ‘998 parties,’ which are in part a celebration that a new deputy will be inked by the gang,” Waters continued. “The tattoos worn by the police gang reportedly feature Nazi imagery… In disturbing evidence of the violence perpetrated against the Los Angeles community by the LASD gang, the whistleblower identified the two deputies responsible for the death of Andres Guardado, a Gardena, California teenager killed by police on June 18, 2020, as members of the Executioners…The killing of Andres Guardado is not the only example of the LASD’s excessive and brutal tactics in the Los Angeles community. On August 31, 2020, LASD deputies fatally shot Dijon Kizzee in South Los Angeles.”

Waters said that her concerns extended beyond the Sheriff’s Department, but to a troubling pattern of police associating with militant groups nationwide, citing four San Jose police officers who were suspended after participating in a racist Facebook group and an Orange County officer caught wearing patches affiliated with a white supremacist group.

“There exists a clear pattern and practice of LASD deputies affiliating with white supremacist, militant police gangs, with the Executioners being the only the latest example,” Waters asserted. “According to ABC News, right wing extremist police gangs that have operated within LASD and other Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies include: the Executioners, the Vikings, the Regulators, the Jump Out Boys, the 3000 Boys and the Banditos. Since the 1990s, there have been dozens of cases…related to [LASD deputy gangs that have led to nearly $55 million in court judgements and settlements.”

Attorney John Sweeney—who won a $7 million lawsuit against L.A. County for the family of Donta Taylor, a 31-year-old Black man fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies in 2016—has been trying to raise the alarm on violent cliques in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department for decades.

“These deputy gangs do exist. My goal was to expose it to the world,” Sweeney told L.A. Focus in March. “And I knew that some decent people within the sheriff’s department would come forth and corroborate what I’ve been trying to prove for years.”

Despite numerous allegations of deputy gangs revealed in the CBS report and various investigations, Sheriff Alex Villanueva has repeatedly denied the extent of a gang problem within the department, but at the same time says he has zero tolerance for deputy gangs.

“Any employee who aligns with a clique or subgroup, which engages in any form of misconduct, will be held accountable. I do not want you joining these alleged cliques anymore,” Villanueva said in a video on the LASD’s website.

His comments drew sharp rebuffs from Attorney Carl Douglas, who told L.A. Focus earlier this year that Villanueva is deliberately misleading the public about the troubling pattern within the L.A. County Sheriff’s and its well-documented deputy gang problem.

“Anyone who denies the existence of gangs within the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, like Alex Villanueva, is presenting false information to the public for his own self-interest,” Douglas said. “He knows in his heart that gang culture is a serious problem.” 

Controversial Radio Host Larry Elder Throws His Hat into the Recall Election Race

  His last column began like this: Question my sanity, but I’m considering running in this election to recall California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
      Well, it seems controversial talk radio host Larry Elder didn’t have to think too long. This week, he announced his decision to enter the state’s September 14 recall election.
      Entry into the race for Elder—dubbed the “Sage from South Central”—did not come without a measure of reluctance, before giving way to an encouraging group of supporters that included fellow conservative radio host, Dennis Prager and concern that several critical issues were spiraling out of control.
      “My top issues are rising crime, the rising cost of housing; homelessness; Gavin Newsom’s dictatorial and anti-science coronavirus lockdown; and the poor quality of many urban public schools, K through 12,” Elder told L.A. Focus.
      “Nearly 75% of black kids in California cannot read at the state level of proficiency. This is outrageous,” Elder continued “A sound high school education is the first step towards the middle class and beyond. Urban parents, black and brown, want choice in public education. But the teachers union, supposedly there for the children, adamantly opposes school choice.”
      Elder, who graduated from Crenshaw High, says that what’s happened there illustrates the problem.
      “There was a front page article in the LA Times a couple of years ago that said only 3% of kids at Crenshaw can do math grade level. This is beyond unacceptable.”
      Elder will join a field of more than 26 Republicans and 16 Democrats vying to replace Newsom, including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, but is unconcerned by the competition.
      “This is a race between Gavin Newsom and me,” says the L.A. native of the race that has yet to yield a clear front runner.
      What Elder brings to the race as a best-selling author, nationally syndicated talk show host and regular guest on Fox News is a high-profile voice on the conservative right who understands the complexities of California politics and is audacious enough to believe he can bring solutions to its most critical issues.
      On September 14,2021, voters will get to decide if indeed he can.

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