A candlelight vigil for Cary Rodriguez, 21, at Melrose and North Westmoreland avenues

This Memorial Day Weekend, Honor Lives Lost Close to Home

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 67)

Truly the best way to honor Memorial Day this year would be to end all wars waged by the United States, which take U.S. lives to fight and lose as well as any others.

But another way to honor lives lost to senseless wars would be to consider every life taken by senseless violence inside the nation’s borders as a life worth commemorating as well.

At the local level for yours truly, five years ago this same weekend, a 17 year old named Leonardo Gabriel Martinez was shot and killed at the intersection of Burns and Virgil in the Virgil Village area. Since that day, eighteen people have been murdered no more than two miles from that intersection, the overwhelming amount young, male and Latino. But women’s lives have also been lost due to violence in the area, including one pregnant woman’s.

In a two-week interval this year, between March and April, three men were shot and killed in East Hollywood, while one was stabbed to death.

With respect for each of these lives, which all entail grieving families & communities, listed here are names, age, date of death, and location of decease for homicide victims in East Hollywood during the last five years:

Javier Resendiz, Jr., 27
January 03, 2015
600 block of North Alexandria avenue

Leonardo Gabriel Martinez, 17
May 23, 2015
North Virgil and Burns avenues

Wilfredo Fernando Portillo, 57
March 22, 2016
811 North Virgil avenue

Lauren Elaine Olguin, 32
April 12, 2016
500 North Virgil avenue

Hector Orlando Estrada Maldonado Jr., 20
September 16, 2016
550 North Heliotrope drive

Walter Martinez Jr., 23
September 16, 2016
550 North Heliotrope drive

Marvin Hernandez, 21
May 21, 2018
609 North Virgil avenue

Andre Pierre Warren-Cyrus, 18
June 14, 2018
North Virgil avenue & Middlebury street

Isaac Dubon, 18
November 7, 2018
1000 North Serrano avenue

Cary Rodriguez, 21
May 5, 2019
Melrose and North Westmoreland avenue

Herbert Antonio Martinez, 56
June 10, 2019
5200 West Sunset boulevard

Cindy Yaneth Lopez Vasquez, 28

July 18, 2019
900 North Oxford avenue

Alexis Gihovani Lopez, 22
July 26, 2019
4550 Marathon street

Aristides Antonio Ruiz Jr., 29
October 28, 2019
North Virgil avenue and Lockwood street

Roberto DeJesus Hernandez, 53
December 21, 2019
800 North Mariposa avenue

Fernando Puga, 28
March 21, 2020
1129 North Madison avenue

Duncan Eric Campbell Jr., 51
March 29, 2020
800 North Mariposa avenue

Alexander Wildberger-Negrete, age not listed
April 6, 2020
1648 North Kingsley drive

Joshua Alexander Andrade Galvez, 24
April 6, 2020
4477 Beverly boulevard

J.T.

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EPISODE 16 – JAPANESE AMERICANS ON THE EAST SIDE OF L.A.

In our sixteenth episode, we discuss Japanese American history in Boyle Heights, Roosevelt High school, the Metro Gold Line’s impact on communities in the area, and much more with Victoria Kraus, of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council. A can’t-miss session for listeners.

J.T.

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Feed Folks Program and Volunteers Deliver Produce to Neighbors in East Hollywood

Earlier this week on Sunday, April 12th, a group of locals and volunteers in East Hollywood distributed over 30 boxes of fresh produce to residents in the neighborhood courtesy of donations and volunteer sign-ups. The effort was led by Feed Folks, a new pilot-program in East Hollywood. Greens and veggies in the boxes were provided by the McGrath Family Farm, of Camarillo, as well as the historic South Central Farmers.

Sponsors for the food boxes included the Little Tokyo Service Center, as well as Cafe Juayua, a local coffee coalition. Volunteers helping to organize and deliver these boxes included Linc Gasking, from Feed Folks, as well as Ninoska Suarez, from the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council.

The coalition of neighbors and community partners aims to continue this program, but will need support from more donors and volunteers.

To donate a Fresh Produce Box for the coalitions next drop-off on April 19, 2020, you can donate HERE. To volunteer to help deliver boxes–with safe social distancing practices in mind–please visit the Feed Folks website.

To sign up for a box for your own household or identify other individuals or households who are food insecure in East Hollywood, the coalition has created a google form in English and Español.

J.T.

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Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 24

I’d like to dedicate today’s writing to any human being out there besides myself who’s had a difficult time of late due to the health crisis. Although I’ve frequently written about this moment in our nation’s history as something of a collective experience, it’s still true that there are many out there who don’t have the privilege to reflect on time in this way.

In the world before the shutdown, some of my favorite pastimes included boarding the Metro 704 bus across Santa Monica boulevard, or the Metro 754 bus south of Vermont avenue. There was also the Red Line, which I sometimes loathed and sometimes loved, but which was crucial for connecting to Koreatown and Union Station, transporting my footsteps to these and so many other different swaths of L.A. Now, the only time I’ve come together with any of these services has been through the photographs I’ve taken of them while walking along the intersections.

I can still walk, another privilege not everyone has, which makes it more accessible for me to keep up with a new routine despite the challenges. I stroll to places like Villalobos Market, as well as Jons for tortillas and jamón. When time permits, I like to scour the nearby Pacific French Bakery or Guatemalteca Bakery for the conchas I continue holding so dearly.

Nowadays, each of these places are transformed as grocery stores and bakeries all over the world might be, but they are still what they’ve always been: tiny places still storing a world of goods for a people to continue living, for a culture to continue surviving.

When a friend and I spoke for my podcast recently, she mentioned that on seeing the liquor stores and the neon lights illuminating the storefronts, she knew she was in my vicinity. Until she made that comment, I hadn’t stopped to realize just how much I actually reflect these humble establishments. I wonder for a moment exactly when each of these places first came to be, and just how many people’s lives they’ve touched over the years, how magnified that process is now. I see them with renewed eyes, and it’s a privilege to be able to recognize them as stalwart pillars in the community clothed in humble dress; as old and new pueblos in Los Angeles for the way people make them, and for the way they make people.

In Los Angeles, where people daily crush engines rushing past such pueblos in a scramble for their freeways, and where they rush past the silhouettes whose steps extend the life of these pueblos, like photosynthesis, pumping fresh air into the entirety of the land, I hope they can see it all just a little more clearly now; this is our home, our vecindario, overseen by flocks of angels in fluttering strides at every corner.

J.T.

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EPISODE 8 – MUSIC WITH SAL ROSES

In our eighth episode for J.T. The L.A. Storyteller Podcast, we chat with none other than SAL ROSES, an original rap musician from the East Hollywood area in Los Angeles. We reflect on the year, including our first meeting at the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, our performances at the 2nd Annual Open Mic Night at Cahuenga Library, BTS 2, and new music by Roses through the end of 2019. To listen to Sal’s latest project, find Appetizers on SPOTIFY.

J.T.

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Picking Life Back up in East Hollywood, Rising Once Again

KL for Who Is Your Neighborhood, LACC; October 12, 2019

Arriving to the Los Angeles City College campus this past weekend was no simple task after a range of emotions in the wake of another tragic loss for the Virgil Village community, this one even closer to home.

But as our communities have done for generations atop the barren concrete of Los Angeles, we pulled our spirits up from within to will one foot in front of the other, and to travail through just enough distance to reach the college’s brilliant quad.

What we saw then was nothing less than reaffirming of this mission. Underneath a quilt of loving daylight the quad bustled with life, filled by people from all over Los Angeles and throughout the world who like us, were also seeking to make the most of their time in the environment around them as they made their way to our table, and to the next, and on, it all rushed back into clarity again:

Despite a world that will continue turning with or without our efforts, we’ve got to continue pushing for stronger communities in our neighborhood, for better youth and education programs here, for holistic support of the most vulnerable among us instead of their out-casting, and more. Because the future yearns for it. Because we want that future. And because we know we deserve the opportunity to create it for ourselves as much as anyone else.

J.T.

Virgil Village Loses Anthony ‘Lil Sleepy’ Ruiz

Aristides Antonio Ruiz Jr., a 29 year old disabled youth, was a life-long member of the Virgil Village community in the East Hollywood area of Los Angeles. On the evening of October 8th, 2019, shortly after 6:00 PM, Anthony was shot four times at the intersection of Virgil Avenue and Lockwood Street. He was rushed to the hospital, where hours later he was pronounced dead. For many locals in the area, Anthony was an unmistakable figure who crisscrossed the local side-walks in his wheelchair.

Anthony was characterized most of all by a child-like smile which came over his face when laughing in the company of his homies. Anthony became disabled over 15 years ago during his early teen years, when another shooting permanently severed his spine.

He was still at Thomas Starr King Middle School when he lost the ability to walk and would go on to attend John Marshall High School before dropping out in the mid-2000s. He is survived by his Godfather, Vic, as well as friends and family throughout the neighborhood now grieving his loss. If you would like to support memorial services for Anthony, you can do so at his GoFundMe page.

J.T.

EPISODE 4 – WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

In our fourth episode, Ed returns to discuss our tabling session with Virgil Village First Fridays, the East Hollywood Survey, and our brand-new Instagram page for @WhoIsYourNeighborhood, where listeners can find vids from BTS 2.

J.T.

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Donate to Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party this Summer 2019

Following the great success of this event in East Hollywood last year, it’s my pleasure to announce a 2nd Annual Back to School Party in our community! Back to School 2 (BTS 2) will feature more live art for youth, renter’s rights for parents, live music, raffle prizes for the kids + more workshops and resources. As with our first Party, your donation will support rental space, tacos for all, backpacks, a scooter & bicycle, helmets, printed photography, art supplies & more. Our event will once again bring different members of the community together, from new business owners to long-time residents, discussing how we can support one another for a “richer” and more inclusive neighborhood experience overall. Please click the button below to make your donation!



And to be sure, for any questions or concerns, our team is just a contact sheet away.

You can also make your donation through our Facebook Fundraiser.

J.T.