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Long Beach

Long Beach mayor displays knack for fixing things

Robert Garcia helps progressive, diverse city roar back to life

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Mayor Robert Garcia at Long Beach Pride 2016. (Photo by Liezl Estipona)

Robert Garcia, the first openly gay person elected mayor of Long Beach, is determined to take his city out of the long shadow of its bigger, sexier, and certainly more celebrity-studded sister to the north.

“Long Beach is a big city, population wise. There are more people in Long Beach than in Atlanta, Miami, St. Louis, and New Orleans, but because it’s so close to L.A., people don’t realize the size and scope of the city,” Mayor Garcia told the Los Angeles Blade.

“It’s important for us to have a national profile, and that we’re out there promoting the city, bringing in jobs, and big corporations. And doing that means making sure the city is ready. That means tech jobs, and making sure those opportunities are available to Long Beach residents. So far, things are going great. Unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been on record.”

Garcia also has plans to build more affordable housing, right the wrongs of income inequality, and protect his most vulnerable citizens – the homeless, immigrants, those who are undocumented, and the LGBTQ community.

“The challenges in Long Beach are the same as other big cities in California,” he said. “There’s a statewide housing crisis. It’s a simple math equation. The housing hasn’t kept up with the population growth. We’re in a situation across the state where we’re seeing a huge housing crisis and that’s causing a lot of strain with the rental market, the housing market and with homelessness.

“Homelessness in general, income inequality over time, and wages haven’t kept up with growth. More and more folks are falling into homelessness and it’s sad to see and there isn’t enough of a national focus on income inequality and wages to address that appropriately.”

The mayor was once a Republican. His story of immigrating to the U.S. from Peru, and his family’s support of President Reagan, comes with a quick and timely lesson.  

“My whole family registered as Republicans when we became citizens. We did so because we loved Ronald Reagan. At the time he had signed the amnesty bill. So, we didn’t know much about politics, but we loved the president because he’d signed this bill, giving us an opportunity to become U.S. citizens.

“Today, it’s ironic that it was a Republican president that signed the most comprehensive path to citizenship that we’ve had this last generation. And a president who’s idolized by the Republican Party also did more for immigrants than any other president recently. I think the Republican Party needs to take a page out of the Ronald Reagan playbook and work with Democrats on a comprehensive immigration program that will create citizenship for the millions of folks that are here,” he said.

Garcia was only slightly unsure whether his status as a gay Latino would impact his run for office.   

“I’m sure there were some who may have had problems with my being Latino or gay, but more were supportive, and for those communities it means a lot to a lot of folks,” he said. “People stop me all the time and tell me that. In the end though, I’m a mayor for everyone. I ran to solve problems and fix things regardless of my ethnicity or being gay.”  

He says that what’s happening in D.C. is incredibly sad for him.

“We should be moving forward and protecting all people. The rhetoric that’s coming out of this administration is divisive and un-American and it’s hard to listen to a national conversation around putting down immigrants and LGBTQ people and Muslim-Americans… We should be expanding healthcare and not trying to eliminate it. We should be moving toward equal pay instead of putting women down. We should be insuring that LGBTQ kids have full and healthy lives versus promoting the bullying behavior that’s being promoted now,” he said.

Looking toward the 2018 elections he added, “California can’t be complacent. As a state we’ve always led, it’s like the popular phrase says, ‘As goes California, so goes the country.’ I think it’s more important than ever now for us to lead on the big issues. Whether that’s issues of climate change, or supporting immigrant communities, or protections for low income people, who we should be looking out for, those are things we have to move forward on, regardless of the national level.

“Look at the Paris agreement, we’re only one of three countries that pulled out. It’s disgraceful. Here in California we’re stepping up to do things for ourselves. I think we’re going to see more and more of that. California is saying if D.C. isn’t going to push on climate change, then we are. If D.C. isn’t going to look at equal wages, then we are. That’s consistent with California values,” he said.

Garcia doesn’t take himself too seriously. This year was his 20th visit to Comic-Con. He wore Superman socks to his inauguration, and says he swears by the motto, “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

“I’ve always been a nerd. I’ve been into sci-fi, ‘Star Wars,’ and ‘Star Trek,’ it’s just stuck with me. Most people in the city know that, and find it amusing,” he says.

 

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Long Beach

Long Beach Police arrest man in stabbing death at popular gay bar

The suspect got into a physical fight with the two victims, which escalated to him stabbing both victims. He then took off on a bicycle

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Long Beach Police uniformed patrol unit (Screenshot/YouTube KEYNEWS.TV)

LONG BEACH – Long Beach Police investigators on Monday arrested a man wanted for a murder outside a business at around 11:45 p.m. Friday night at the popular Mineshaft gay bar in the 1700 block of East Broadway.

Long Beach Police Department Special Investigations detectives, with assistance from patrol officers, identified 56-year-old Michael Smalls as a suspect in the stabbing death of  28-year-old Christopher Finley of Long Beach. Smalls was charged one count of murder in the death of Finley and one count of attempted murder in the stabbing of another man who was accompanying Finley.

Investigators were looking into the stabbing of the two men outside the popular Mineshaft gay bar in the 1700 block of East Broadway Friday at around 11:45 pm. Police said late Saturday afternoon one of the victims Finley, had died.

According to the LBPD, Detectives believe the murder stemmed from two altercations. During the first altercation, the victim(s) were involved in a fight with a man who was armed with a “taser” in front of a business. Moments later, a second altercation occurred in which Smalls got into a physical fight with the two victims, which escalated to Smalls stabbing both victims. Smalls then took off on a bicycle. The man with the “taser” was detained at the scene and arrested on an unrelated charge.

Smalls was booked into the Long Beach City Jail and is currently being held on $2,000,000 bail. Detectives will present the case to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office for filing consideration this week. The motive is under investigation. Currently, there is no evidence this is a hate or bias motivated incident.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is urged to contact Homicide Detective Michael Hubbard and Jesus Espinoza at (562) 570-7244.

Anonymous tips may be submitted through “LA Crime Stoppers” by calling 800-222-TIPS (8477), downloading the “P3 Tips” app to your smartphone (available at the Apple app store or Google Play), or by visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.

In a social media post on the bar’s Facebook Page Saturday afternoon, the bar’s owners Jeff and Rhonda Darling expressed their dismay over the incident as the news broke that one of the two injured men had died.

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Long Beach

Long Beach police investigating double stabbing at gay bar

The bar’s owners Jeff and Rhonda Darling expressed their dismay over the incident as the news broke that one of the two injured men had died

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Mineshaft LGBTQ bar in the 1700 block of East Broadway, Long Beach, California (Photo Credit: Mineshaft/Facebook)

LONG BEACH – Investigators are looking into the stabbing of two men at the popular Mineshaft gay bar in the 1700 block of East Broadway in Long Beach. Both victims were hospitalized and the search is underway for the suspect. Long Beach Police said late Saturday afternoon one of the male adult victims has succumbed to their injuries.

Police identified the man who died as 28-year-old Christopher Finley of Long Beach.

According to Long Beach Police Department spokesperson Richard Mejia, an argument at around 11:45 p.m. Friday night escalated from a a verbal argument between the two men and a third when the confrontation became physical. The suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed the two victims then fled before Long Beach officers arrived.

Police have not yet released any information about the suspect’s description, but told media that the investigation is ongoing and ask that anyone with information about the incident to contact the Long Beach Police Department.

In a social media post on the bar’s Facebook Page Saturday afternoon, the bar’s owners Jeff and Rhonda Darling expressed their dismay over the incident as the news broke that one of the two injured men had died.

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Long Beach

Long Beach Police need public’s help locating sexual assault suspect

Suspect described as a male White or Hispanic approximately 18-25 years old, between 5’10” to 5’11” in height, with a thin build, short hair

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Photo Credit: City of Long Beach Police Department/Facebook


LONG BEACH – (Press Release) The Long Beach Police Department is seeking the public’s help locating a male suspect involved in a sexual battery incident involving a minor.

On July 31, 2022, at approximately 1:30 p.m., officers responded to the 1100 block of East 4th Street regarding a sexual battery incident that had just occurred.

Upon arrival, officers learned the suspect initially followed the victim for several blocks. While following the victim, the suspect propositioned him and then grabbed his lower body. An altercation ensued, which resulted in the suspect striking the victim in the upper body before fleeing.

Detectives are releasing a photograph of the suspect from surveillance footage and video from the incident. The Long Beach Police Department requests information about this incident and/or the suspect’s identity.

The suspect is described as a male White or Hispanic (light complexion), approximately 18-25 years old, between 5’10” to 5’11” in height, with a thin build, short medium-length hair in a “comb over” style, and a light-colored mustache. The suspect wore a blue Dodgers T-shirt, light-colored pants, and black sandals. The suspect may have attended a party in the area before the assault.

Courtesy LBPD

To view a video of the suspect, click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-BbUCC7Lfk            

Anyone with information regarding the person responsible for these crimes should contact Sex Crimes Detective Monica Moore at (562) 570-5514 or Detective William Neal at (562) 570-5513.

Anonymous tips may be submitted through “LA Crime Stoppers” by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), downloading the “P3 Tips” app to your smartphone (available at the Apple App store and Google Play), or visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.

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