Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center Pharmacy in East Hollywood, Los Angeles

West Hollywood Makes Way: All Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 87)

This Sunday, June 14th, marks the first All Black Lives Matter march in Hollywood, beginning at 11:00 AM. The march will commence at Hollywood and Highland boulevard, proceed through West Hollywood, and consolidate at West Hollywood Park on San Vicente boulevard, marking the first large-scale march of its kind between the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBTQ+ community in Los Angeles.

In its press release for the public, the organizing board for the march states:

On June 7, 2020, an Advisory Board, made up of all Black LGBTQ+ leaders was formed to move forward in organizing the All Black Lives Matter solidarity march on Sunday, June 14, 2020 at 11:00am in Los Angeles, in honor of our beloved trans brother Tony McDade, who was murdered by police at that time. The protest is in direct response to racial injustice, systemic racism, and all forms of oppression.”

Why is the march taking place in West Hollywood? Apart from being the most popular destination for the queer community in Los Angeles, West Hollywood is 80% white, while the Black community there makes up less than 3.6% of the population, according to U.S. Census data. This plays a major role in the policing of non-white bodies through the area, as well as their invisibility from the culture. In an interview with the L.A. Times, Brandon Anthony, a gay Black man who is co-organizing the march, explains:

“The most shocking aspect of West Hollywood for me is going to every club there, every bar, and hearing them play our music, but not seeing me in there.”

For more information, visit the All Black Lives Matter website, or follow updates from the L.A. Times, which there will surely be plenty of.

J.T.

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Helen Bernstein High School from Sunset boulevard, East Hollywood

A Generation of Leadership That Has Failed the City of Los Angeles Is Now Unraveling

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 82)

In her motion to consider withdrawing support for the LAPD’s $100 – 150 million raise last week, L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez stunned both activists as well as the LAPD police union and its supporters with a statement accompanying the motion which can read like a page out of Michelle Alexander’s famous magnum opus from 2010:

We need a vision for our city that says ‘there is going to be justice.’ American society is founded on a racial hierarchy, one that is born out of slavery followed by Jim Crow segregation and corporate abuse of labor. As such, police departments are asked to enforce a system of laws that are designed to reinforce and maintain economic and racial inequality.”

– Nury Martinez, L.A. City Council, June 3rd, 2019

One can thank the activists, including Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles, as well as the People’s Budget for Los Angeles, for stirring the L.A. City Council out of slumbering obsequiousness or deference to the police union’s raises amid the threat of COVID-19, even if we forget for a moment that Mayor Garcetti’s added $150 million for LAPD was agreed to before the coronavirus slammed the brakes on the economy.

Coronavirus or not, and the police raises aside, the $1.7 billion of taxpayer dollars that LAPD was set to receive while Housing & Community Investment were to get less than 4.8% of that sum, was all any resident of Los Angeles needed to know to be concerned. But if not for the BLM movement’s years of work in relative silence, or years of activism in what might be said to be a vacuum, L.A. would be in a completely different political environment right now, one far less equipped to deal with our representatives accordingly.

Shortly after Ms. Martinez’s motion, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, or L.A.’s police union, released a blistering statement in retaliation:

“Los Angeles Council President Nury Martinez has failed the true test of leadership; the ability to bring Angelenos together to problem solve and heal after the tragic killing of George Floyd. Rather than creating a space to come together and have the necessary and difficult dialogue on how best to move our city and nation forward, all we got was a Tweet aimed at creating a deeper division between our police officers and the community we serve. To declare that the work police officers perform, that we’ve been directed to do, is designed to harm people of color while Ms. Martinez repeatedly sends us into harm’s way is divisive, disrespectful, and certainly is no profile in courage.”

The police union’s statement is a text-book case of the lengths that powerful interests go to in order to maintain control, even as they lose control. Be honest with yourself: In what fundamental way is the statement different from a press release out of the Trump White House?

The statement attacks personal character, claims the union has been “disrespected,” and implies that police bear all the weight of the real work” while Ms. Martinez “tweets.” Perhaps most importantly, the statement doesn’t even try explaining its argument that the LAPD losing its raise “creates division” between police and the communities it’s supposed to serve. Newsflash: police violence and incarceration are what create division.

Moreover, instead of the police union accounting for their role in jailing, fining, and fatally shooting predominantly Black & Latino bodies in Los Angeles, or instead of releasing a statement accepting the extra $150 million going towards other city services at this time and offering to work with activists to end all police violence against its citizens, the union simply defends itself. It laments over a salary issue. Never-mind the scores of protesters the LAPD injured during their peaceful protests, and never-mind 601 fatal shootings since 2013 alone.

Those hundreds of millions of dollars, though.

Towards the end of the union’s statement, there’s even a veiled threat to answer the phone “a little late” next time Council Member Martinez calls their number.

But perhaps the union’s taking offense makes more sense when readers consider that the Los Angeles Police Protective League Political Action Committee (PAC) has consistently donated money to Nury Martinez’s tenure at L.A. City Hall since at least 2013, according to the L.A. Ethics Commission website, not to mention virtually every other City Council member, too. Remember: the Center for Responsive Politics defines a PAC as “a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates.”

At the L.A. City Hall Budget & Finance committee this Monday, activists learned that the motion regarding the police raises–which was originally set to be approved or disapproved by the committee this week–would have its meeting postponed to the following week on June 15th, 2020 in order for the council to “hear from more stakeholders,” as in, apart from the tens of thousands of marchers standing outside city hall demanding better.

But what the postponement did make clear was that after two weeks of protest against the police state all across Los Angeles, the council did, in fact, hear the demands far more clearly than not so long ago.

If you’re in East Hollywood, Los Angeles, which is known at L.A. City Hall as the 13th district, here’s the contact information for Mitch O’Farrell’s office, your representative, to facilitate some of that additional feedback for your council-members:

DISTRICT 13 — MITCH O’FARRELL:

City Hall: (213) 473-7013

District Office: (213) 207-3015

Email: councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org 

Twitter: @MitchOFarrell

J.T.

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An encampent along Sunset boulevard and Manzanita street in Los Angeles

You can Now Make Your Voice Heard On L.A.’s Budget For Next Year with A New Survey for Residents

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 72)

Today I’d like to encourage every reader in Los Angeles to take approximately seven minutes to fill out a critical survey regarding priorities for L.A.’s proposed budget this upcoming year. The form, facilitated by The People’s Budget for L.A., is a simple yet comprehensive set of questions for residents in Los Angeles gauging opinion on which resources to prioritize with our tax-dollars at this time. Find the form HERE.

In what’s now clearly a historic juncture for our nation, there are a litany of opinions over the best way to advance better policies for our society, but also many questions about the best way to get started. I can assure each reader that filling out the survey is one key way to just activate one’s own thought process on the issues, regardless of where they may stand on each issue. In fact, after submitting my thoughts on the survey’s opinion section, I copied and pasted them onto the city council’s public comment section for the mayor’s proposed budget and submitted them there as well. It was a two-for-one special. Now that’s a deal in democracy you can’t pass up!

J.T.

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