July 06, 2023
By Mark Hedin
Special to California Black Media Partners
As the first three-digit temperatures of 2023 arrive with the start of summer and the Fourth of July, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is taking steps to ensure the safety of residents through any potential emergencies.
At a June 29 press briefing hosted by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services, Cal OES and Listos California unveiled a package of safety guidelines prepared in expectation of climate extremes.
Alf LaMont from LaMont Digital introduced a collection of “Summer of Safety” graphics providing advice on keeping people ready for and safe during potential summer emergencies: wildfires, flooding, power outages and high temperatures.
These graphics are available in English, Spanish and more than a dozen other languages, and available at listoscalifornia.org.
“In California, we don’t actually see a lot of our record all-time temperatures until late in the season,” National Weather Service meteorologist Brayden Murdock said, citing “June gloom, no-sky July and ‘Fog-ust’ for a good portion of August.”
“Usually, our strongest heat impacts wind up being more toward late August going into September,” he said. But high temperatures lead to low winds, he said, “so we don’t get that sea breeze that helps us cool down.”
“Think of it more as a marathon than an individual sprint.”
And the end of 2023’s relatively cool temperatures so far, he said, will now bring increased snow melt in the Sierra. Already, the state has closed off some river stretches.
“Summers are becoming hotter and drier, and families are going to want to cool down in the water,” said Cal OES Assistant Director of Crisis Communications and Public Affairs, Diana Crofts-Pelayo, “but it is very dangerous right now, we have already seen too many people that have lost their lives. So do what you can to stay indoors to stay cool!”
Cal OES is making mutual-aid arrangements between state and local fire agencies “on a huge push to train swift water rescue teams,” she said.
“So, if you do head out on the water, many local teams will be out there, but we don’t want them to do those rescues! It’s very dangerous for them and for you.”
Crofts-Pelayo cited five keys for people to focus on for summer safety:
• Get alerts: calalerts.org.
• Make a plan: “Have that conversation with your family to ensure that your little ones, your older ones, all know what they would do during an emergency. What emergency routes they would take, where to meet if separated.”
• Pack a “go bag” in case you need to leave your home very quickly: important documents, medication, food, water, for instance.
• Similarly, make a “stay box” in case you need to stay home. “It doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive,” she said. “Think about it ahead of time and put everything together that would be necessary.”
• And finally, Crofts-Pelayo said, “help others. This is a community movement.” She suggested sharing only official resources, but doing so via familiar networking channels: phone calls, social media posts and emails.
Joining Crofts-Pelayo, Murdock and LaMont at the briefing were three Listos California community partners who shared experiences from previous encounters with extreme weather conditions.
Jacqueline Nushi, of Project Camp’s emergency preparedness center, manages pop-up camps for kids during disasters, providing support and a safe environment for families.
She said a key lesson she and other emergency managers learned was the value of empowering children with knowledge and coping skills -- “a great way to build mindfulness and preparedness.”
“Children are the best when it comes to learning preparedness and taking it home to their families. They’re very resilient. It’s amazing to see them make it through what they have to make it through.”
Nushi also wanted to endorse the printed materials Listos provides, via listoscalifornia.org.
She spoke about how, years ago prior to the Slater Fire in Happy Camp (Siskyou County) in 2020, she’d distributed some of their material.
“After that fire, I was at a local assistance center,” she said, when a survivor she’d counseled before the fire approached. “This information saved us!” she said. Other survivors there then chimed in with similar stories.
“The Listos materials, the disaster guides, are very easy to read, very, very to the point and cover the information in very simple language” she said. “This material is super easy, it’s not hard to read, it’s not hard to understand.”
CORE – Community Organized Relief Effort – has worked globally from Ukraine, Turkey and all around the U.S. George Hernandez Mejia, CORE Director of Emergency Operations, said that in doing wildfire preparation in Siskyou County last year, it turned out that some of the greatest needs were simply for clear information on evacuation zones or where wildfires were burning.
He also agreed with Nushi’s testimony about the importance of educating children on these matters.
“100% of our clients have experienced natural disasters,” said Peter Thao, of the Fresno Asian Business Institute and Resource Center, which provides disaster relief training and preparedness for farmers and small businesses.
“It’s not if, but when, a natural disaster will happen. “Always be prepared; have a plan.” “Take pictures,” he said, “and keep your insurance agent informed of your concerns.”
Along with efforts to prepare Californians for extreme weather conditions, the state has also allocated $200 million to help communities build “resilience cooling centers.
This article is provided to you by California Black Media in collaboration with Ethnic Media Services.
June 22, 2023
LAWT News Service
Councilmember Curren Price released the following statement in advance of the Friday, June 23, Rules Committee meeting where members will consider his possible suspension from serving on the Council.
“I have lived my entire life in public service honorably and with no other focus than the best interests of my constituents.
As such, I am eager to respond both to the misguided charges that have been filed against me, and the unfair aspersions that have been cast upon my wife.
I am confident that the court, and any fair observers, will recognize that these charges are unwarranted.
Until I have had an opportunity to address the charges in court, it is inappropriate for the Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee to recommend my suspension from the City Council.
While I respect that Council President Krekorian has to take any allegations against a member of the Council seriously, I am presumed innocent, as indeed I am, and the best way to protect the voices and concerns of those in my District is to allow me and my dedicated staff to continue to serve the needs of District 9.”
June 22, 2023
City News Service
Relatives of Keenan Anderson, a Black man who went into cardiac arrest and died after being Tasered multiple times in a struggle with Los Angeles police in Venice, announced the filing of a lawsuit against the city on June 19.
Anderson, the father of a 5-year-old son, had been a teacher for more than eight years, the past six months at Digital Pioneers Academy, a charter high school in Washington, D.C. The 31-year-old Anderson had been in the Los Angeles area visiting relatives during the holidays when he got into the Jan. 3 confrontation with police following a minor traffic collision near Lincoln and Venice boulevards.
Attorneys said police used a Taser on Anderson six times, causing his heart to later flutter and ultimately fail. He died hours later at a hospital.
A subsequent autopsy determined that Anderson died from the effects of an enlarged heart and cocaine use.
Los Angeles attorney Carl Douglas, representing Anderson's family along with famed national civil rights attorney Ben Crump, acknowledged the drug use, but said it doesn't justify officers' actions.
“I don't think there's going to be a challenge to the determination that there were in fact drugs in Mr. Anderson's system,” Douglas said during a morning news conference. “The video shows he died because he was Tasered more than six times on the back of his heart. We will have experts that will confirm the connection between the actions of police and his death.”
He added, “It matters not why he was in distress because it's clear from the body-worn footage that he was never a threat. He spoke to the officers politely. He was always compliant. He never balled his fists. He never kicked. He never did anything to give an officer the belief that he was a threat.”
Earlier this year, the LAPD released some edited body-camera footage showing the encounter between Anderson and police. At one point, the video shows Anderson being held down on the ground, with Anderson crying out that officers were trying to “George Floyd” him, a reference to the man who died while being restrained by police in Minneapolis.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, issued a statement earlier saying Anderson escalated the confrontation with his behavior, which included running away from officers into traffic.
“Minor auto accidents are usually handled with an exchange of information between the drivers and a call to one's insurance carrier,'' according to the LAPPL. “On the other hand, when an individual who is high on cocaine is in an accident, tries to open the car door of an innocent driver, and then flees the scene by running into traffic, police officers must act.''
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges civil rights violations, assault and battery, false imprisonment and negligence.
The suit seeks unspecified damages, although attorneys said they would ask for damages of $100 million. The family had earlier filed a required damages claim against the city seeking $50 million, but it was rejected.
Anderson was one of three men who died in confrontations with the LAPD during the first three days of the year. The two other men were fatally shot. The deaths prompted a series of protests, demands for the ouster of LAPD Chief Michel Moore and calls for changes in the way the agency responds to traffic crashes.
Anderson was a cousin of Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.
June 22, 2023
LAWT News Service
The Los Angeles City Council elected Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson as the new president pro tempore on Tuesday, June 20.
Harris-Dawson replaces Curren Price, who stepped down from the position and faces possible suspension from the council after being charged with embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest.
In a 12-to-0 vote, the council moved to appoint Harris-Dawson as president pro tempore with council members Monica Rodriguez and Curren Price absent from the vote. Price was not in attendance at Tuesday's meeting and he will not attend any of the remaining meetings this week, according to his office.
“With that vote, I'm pleased to congratulate our new Council President Pro Tem Marqueece Harris-Dawson,” Council President Paul Krekorian said. “I'd like to ask you to come up on and take the desk.”
Harris-Dawson has represented Council District 8 since 2015 and currently chairs the Planning Land Use and Management Committee. During his tenure, he has promoted initiatives and policies to combat homelessness, create quality jobs and encourage community policing.
Also, Harris-Dawson has continuously advocated on behalf of the unhoused. In 2016, he co-authored Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond for permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals and people at risk of becoming homeless. Voters overwhelmingly approved the measure by 77% to 23%.
A native of South Los Angeles, the new president pro tem graduated from Morehouse College and earned a certificate in nonprofit management from Stanford's Graduate School of Business. He previously served as president/CEO of the Community Coalition, a nonprofit organization founded by Mayor Karen Bass.
His commendations include the Do Something "BRICK" Award, The Wellness Foundation Sabbatical Award, the NAACP Man of Valor Award, Durfee Foundation's Stanton Fellowship, and Liberty Hill Foundation's Upton Sinclair Award.
According to his bio on the CD 8 website, “Councilmember Harris-Dawson understands how decades of systematic disinvestment have harmed our communities and believes the people of South L.A. are its greatest resource.
“As a long-time community organizer in South LA, Councilmember Harris-Dawson is never afraid to discuss issues of race and equity and relies on his deep roots and relationships to build public trust and collaborative solutions.”