September 17, 2020

By City News Service

 

A coalition of 64 media organizations called on the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department today to withdraw a citation against KPCC and LAist reporter Josie Huang, who was pinned to the ground and handcuffed while covering the arrest of a demonstrator following the shooting of two deputies in Compton.

The letter from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press echoes other media groups that have disputed the sheriff's version of the arrest, and calls on the department “to take immediate steps to prevent another incident like the arrest of (Huang).”

A spokesman for the sheriff's department told City News Service the case is still under investigation and the department had no further comment.

Huang was arrested Saturday night as she was covering a confrontation involving a handful of protesters at the emergency room entrance of St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where the wounded deputies were brought for treatment.

Video from the scene showed deputies pinning Huang to the ground and arresting her.

The sheriff's department claimed she didn't have proper media credentials, failed to properly identify herself as a reporter and was ``interfering with a lawful arrest''of one of the protesters. Sheriff Alex Villanueva later doubled down on that contention, saying Huang got “right up on the shoulder” of a deputy trying to make an arrest, and saying her actions were more “activism” than journalism.

Video from Huang's cell phone has since surfaced, showing her repeatedly identifying herself as a reporter, shouting “KPCC,” and saying,

“You're hurting me” and crying out in apparent pain.

Inspector General Max Huntsman – who has clashed with Villanueva over previous investigations involving the LASD – has opened an investigation into Huang's arrest, and is scheduled to appear before the Civilian Oversight Commission on Thursday morning to discuss his probe into Huang's arrest.

Huang, who was released after about five hours in custody, was cited and could face charges under California Penal Code Section 148 for obstructing a law enforcement officer from performing his or her lawful duties.

The coalition's letter accuses deputies of violating her constitutional rights.

“The right to record police activity in public is clearly established, and an officer who violates that First Amendment freedom – especially through the use of force – enjoys no legal immunity,” the group contends in the letter. “Based on multiple recordings of the incident, it appears that the Department's arrest of Ms. Huang violated these clearly established First Amendment rights.”

The Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists wrote a letter to Huntsman on Wednesday asking that his office make public all information it gathers in the investigation.

“The department's treatment of Huang threatens to have a chilling effect on journalists across the county. We cannot overstate the importance of a thorough investigation by your office,” chapter president David Zahniser wrote.

Meanwhile, Villanueva apologized Wednesday for a separate incident involving one of his deputies, who shined his flashlight at a television camera operated by a Fox11 crew that was documenting the arrest of a suspect at a fire.

“Unbelievable. Look at this LA County Sheriff's Deputy shining his flashlight directly into our @foxla camera, trying to prevent us from recording an arrest made at fire,” reporter Gigi Graciette tweeted. “Said we weren't allowed to videotape. What? We are standing on sidewalk where law clearly allows us to be.”

Villanueva responded soon after with his own tweet.

“I have personally spoken to @GigiGraciette and apologized on behalf of @LASDHQ for the wrongful actions of one of our personnel while she and @FoxLA were reporting on an arrest,” the sheriff said.

Category: News

September 10, 2020

LAWT News Service

 

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors warned residents that a massive undercount in the U.S. Census will result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for critical services and a loss of political representation in Washington for the next 10 years. With only four weeks until the census deadline, only 62.2% of households in L.A. County have self-responded to the census (as of Aug. 27, 2020).

The U.S. Census Bureau has started sending census takers door-to-door in L.A. County, following up with households that haven’t yet responded to the census. The goal of door-to-door visits is to make sure 100 percent of households are counted.

“Census takers are visiting our neighborhoods to assist residents who still need to complete their census form,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “When we count each member of our community, more crucial funding goes to emergency services, health care and schools. The Board of Supervisors urges everyone in L.A. County to respond to the census today to ensure your community has the resources they need.”

African American communities are among those most at-risk for being undercounted. In census tracts in L.A. County with an African American population of 33.3% or higher, an average of 59.6% of households have self-responded to the census as of Aug. 27, 2020. Officials have reason to be concerned as this number is trending lower than the final response rate for the last census. In 2010, 66.2% of households in these same neighborhoods responded to the census.

 

“This isn’t abstract. An undercount directly results in being underrepresented as well as underfunded for critical programs including health care, food assistance, housing vouchers and so many other safety net programs that our vulnerable residents are counting on – especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic and likely once it’s over,” Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said. “Too much is at stake. I urge all County residents, including our immigrant communities, to continue responding to the 2020 Census. The 2020 Census is secure, quick, and easy and can be completed online, by phone, or mail.”

The Nonresponse Follow-Up (NRFU) operation began in August, the same week it was announced that the new census deadline was cut short by a month to Sept. 30. The shortened deadline is raising concerns that the 2020 Census might not have time to count all communities. Those most at risk of not being counted are predominately in African American, Latinx and Asian Pacific American communities.

“One of the most important rights we have is our hard-won right to vote, a right integral to our democracy and directly related to the results of the census,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who filed an urgency motion expressing concern about the Census Bureau cutting the count a month earlier than expected. “We must all stand up and be counted because to be undercounted is to be underrepresented, and to be underrepresented is to be underfunded. We cannot lose sight of what this means for L.A. County.”

The census can be completed online at my2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail if you receive a paper form. For non-English speaking residents, the U.S. 2020 Census website offers general information in 59 languages at https://2020census.gov/.

“Counts are unfathomably low across L.A. County. With only four weeks left to complete the census count, we are deeply concerned that L.A. County will lose both political representation in the House and funding for desperately needed services,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “Our message is simple. Fill out your census today. Time is running out and you need to be counted and to be heard.”

Census takers are hired from local communities and speak English. Many are bilingual, but if they do not speak the householder’s language, the household can request another visit from a census taker who does. The Census Bureau and census takers will never ask for residents for a Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers, or citizenship status. They will never ask for money or donations.

Safety precautions have been put in place for residents’ protection. Census takers are required to wear face coverings while conducting their work. They will follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit. Census takers have completed a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and safety protocols.

“Please answer the door and be counted in the census. If someone visits your home to collect information for the 2020 Census, you can ask to see a valid ID badge with their photograph and name. The badge will have a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date. They also might carry a U.S. Census Bureau bag and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said. “If you want to avoid a visit, you can fill out your census form today at my2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020.”

If no one is at home, census takers will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail. They also might deliver a paper questionnaire and hang it on the front door in a plastic bag. Census takers’ identities can also be confirmed by contacting the regional census center at (213) 314-6500 and speaking with a U.S. Census Bureau representative.

To minimize the need to send census takers to households in person, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that it is training census representatives to follow up with households by phone. Phone calls will be used on an as-needed basis and when in-person contact attempts have not resulted in an interview. The Bureau will also continue its Mobile Questionnaire Assistance (MQA) program through Sept. 30. MQA representatives are in open, public places in the lowest-responding areas of the nation to encourage people to respond to the 2020 Census. These locations are where people naturally visit when leaving home and can be used to help increase self-response rates.

The 2020 Census officially kicked off March 12, with the U.S. Census Bureau sending letters to all households in the country, inviting residents to participate in the census by mail, online or by phone. The invitation included a Census ID that links the participant to a physical address, but residents can respond to the census online or by phone without a Census ID.

Completing the census is private. Responses are protected by federal law, specifically Title 13 of the United States Code. They cannot be shared with any other government agencies or other entities, including your landlord.

“Some members of the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities and other communities of color may feel that participating in the census doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t make a difference,” said June Lim, demographic research project director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles. “Nothing can be further from the truth. Federal funding for important resources and services – and having a voice in politics – depends on being counted. Every single person in our community matters and must be counted in the census, regardless of age, race or immigration status. We encourage you to fill out the census if you have not already.”

Category: News

September 10, 2020

LAWT News Service

 

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee (FSC), announced that the Federal Aviation Admini­stration (FAA) provided $17,500,000 in grants for residential noise mitigation for individuals and families who live near LAX.  The grants were funded by the CARES Act, a $2 trillion economic security package that included several provisions drafted by Congresswoman Waters in her capacity as FSC Chair.

“I am proud to announce that the FAA has awarded a total of $17.5 million in grants for residential noise mitigation for people who live near LAX and are affected by airport noise,” said Congresswoman Waters. “These grants will help individuals and families in more than 1,000 local residences mitigate the impact of airport noise in their homes.”

The FAA provided the following three grants totaling $17,500,000 to provide residential noise mitigation to residences in the vicinity of LAX:

• $10,000,000 for the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) for approximately 230 residences in the unincorporated communities of Lennox and Athens.

• $3,750,000 for the City of Inglewood for approximately 700 Inglewood residences.

• $3,750,000 for the City of Los Angeles for approximately 185 residences in the City of El Segundo.

 

“I am especially proud that these grants were funded by the historic CARES Act,” said Congresswoman Waters.  “As Chair of the Financial Services Committee, I fought to ensure that this $2 trillion economic security package included a broad range of initiatives to invest in housing, transportation, and other infrastructure and to help families, support essential workers, and maintain public services like noise mitigation.  I am pleased that this landmark legislation is helping local families affected by airport noise.”

Inglewood residents who want to learn more about residential noise mitigation can contact

Bettye Griffith, the director of the City of Inglewood’s Residential Sound Insulation Program (RSIP), at (310) 412-5289.  Residents of other communities near LAX can contact Leonor Pacillas, at (626) 586-1815 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or Bill Pro, at (626) 586-1836 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , with LACDA’s RSIP for more information.

“Noise from planes flying into and out of LAX is extremely disruptive for people who live and work near the airport,” said Congress­woman Waters. “Moreover, while the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a reduction in air travel, it has also caused children and adults to spend more time studying and working in their homes exposed to airport noise. These grants will bring relief to more than one thousand individuals and families who deserve to enjoy peace and quiet at home.”

Category: News

September 10, 2020

By City News Service

 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva insisted again today that ``disruptive groups'' from outside the area have inflamed recent protests outside the South Los Angeles sheriff's station, and only one of the three dozen people arrested over the past four nights was an area resident.

Protests have been held nightly outside the station since Saturday in response to the Aug. 31 deadly shooting by two deputies of Dijon Kizzee in the Westmont area. Villanueva said that while some people attending are likely there to protest peacefully, outsiders are taking advantage of the gatherings to incite violence.

“Some of the disruptive groups that came to – we'll call it `protest' in quotes, because they came dressed like they were going to play tackle football, with shoulder pads, helmets, knee pads, everything,'' Villanueva said in an update on Facebook Live. “They came armed and they came armed with fireworks, mortars, frozen water bottles, you name it. And they had gloves, heat-resistant gloves, goggles, everything.

“They're not there to protest,'' he said. “Come on, let's knock off any pretense that these people are here to engage in the lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights. They're not. Their whole goal is to disrupt law enforcement activities. As soon as something starts flying our way, we will respond in kind and we will declare it an unlawful assembly and then we'll take whatever action we need to stop that. That's it.”

The sheriff said 36 people were arrested over the past four nights, and only one of them was from the general vicinity of South Los Angeles.

“We got them from Florida. We got some from San Francisco. I think one from Michigan,'' he said. “Everywhere but Westmont. Go figure.''

Tuesday night's demonstration over the of Kizzee, 29, was declared an unlawful assembly at about 8:15 p.m., according to sheriff's Deputy Trina Schrader.

The 17 people arrested will likely face charges under California Penal Code section 409, which relates to remaining present at the scene of an unlawful assembly after being lawfully warned to disperse, sheriff's officials told City News Service.

It was the fourth consecutive night demonstrators gathered outside the station, located at 1310 W. Imperial Highway, to protest the shooting of Kizzee, who was shot during a confrontation with deputies near West 109th Place and South Budlong Avenue.

Sheriff's officials said he was riding a bicycle in the area and deputies stopped him for an unspecified vehicle code violation. After he was stopped, he allegedly punched one deputy then tried to run away and dropped clothing items containing a firearm.

Sheriff's officials have said he made a motion toward the gun, but Kizzee's family and community activists have accused the deputies of shooting an unarmed man in the back. They insist he was not wielding a weapon and was actually running away from the deputies when he was shot.

On Wednesday, Kizzee's relatives held a news conference with supporters, calling on the coroner's office to release the results of an autopsy. The results have been placed on a security hold by the sheriff's department, citing the continuing investigation.

Category: News

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