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Lesbian filmmakers remember Nicole Brown Simpson

Nicole is a global symbol for domestic violence

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(Photo courtesy Sotile & Godges)

October is both LGBT History Month and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and for lesbian filmmakers Renee Sotile and Mary Jo Godges, the intersection of the two issues is deeply personal.

Nicole Brown Simpson, the divorced wife of former football star OJ Simpson, and her friend, restaurant waiter Ron Goldman, were found brutally murdered on June 13, 1994 outside her home in Brentwood. OJ Simpson was arrested and after a controversial televised trial, was acquitted of their murders on Oct. 3, 1995.

Nicole Brown Simpson (Photo courtesy Sotile & Godges)

Just as women the world over were triggered by the testimony of sexual abuse survivor Professor Christine Blasey Ford in the Brett Kavanaugh Senate hearings, the trial testimony about how OJ Simpson abused and threatened Nicole triggered victims of domestic violence. So many women came out about their experiences, then-District Attorney Gil Garcetti (father of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti) took to the airwaves to publicize the DA’s Family Violence Division, which Garcetti created the previous year.

Gil Garcetti (Photo courtesy Sotile & Godges)

During that time, Renee Sotile worked as a news cameraperson for local TV stations, covering the murder trial for more than 100 days. “Sotile never forgot the impact Nicole Brown Simpson’s death made on her. Imprinted in her mind are the shocked and heartbreaking expressions on the faces of Nicole’s family. She and Mary Jo Godges want the world to remember Nicole and all women who suffered and continue to suffer from domestic abuse,” they write on their “I Remember Nicole” Facebook page.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Nicole’s murder, Sotile, a two-time Emmy winner, and her tech-savvy spouse Godges dedicated more than a year to producing a moving music video “to bring a resonating voice to the voiceless” that they hope will “raise awareness and empower victims” to reclaim their power over domestic violence. The video features an original song written by Sotile & Godges and Pat & Pete Luboff and is performed by American Idol Hollie Cavanagh and Melodye Perry, who, they say, is the “daughter of music legend Edna Wright and niece of music legend Darlene Love, for music aficionados.”

Ivy Bottini (Photo courtesy Sotile & Godges)

There are some familiar faces in the video, such as lesbian icon Ivy Bottini and LGBT ally Pauley Perrette to illustrate that domestic violence is not relegated to straight couples.

Pauley Perrette (Photo courtesy Sotile & Godges)

“Domestic abuse and violence, also known as intimate partner abuse and violence, is a pattern of behavior in which an intimate partner or former partner attempts to control the thoughts, beliefs, and/or actions of his/her partner. It may include physical, sexual, psychological, and/or financial abuse and it’s just as common among same-sex couples as it is among heterosexual couples,” according to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (1-800-799-7233). Abusive partners in LGBTQ relationships use all the same tactics to gain power and control as abusive partners in heterosexual relationships — physical, sexual or emotional abuse, financial control, isolation and more. But abusive partners in LGBTQ relationships also reinforce their tactics that maintain power and control with societal factors that compound the complexity a survivor faces in leaving or getting safe in an LGBTQ relationship.”

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline outlines the Tactics of Power & Control

  • “Outing” a partner’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Abusive partners in LGBTQ relationships may threaten to ‘out’ victims to family members, employers, community members and others.
  • Saying that no one will help the victim because s/he is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or that for this reason, the partner “deserves” the abuse.
  • Justifying the abuse with the notion that a partner is not “really” lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (i.e. the victim may once have had/may still have relationships, or express a gender identity, inconsistent with the abuser’s definitions of these terms). This can be used both as a tool in verbal and emotional abuse as well as to further the isolation of a victim from the community.
  • Monopolizing support resources through an abusive partner’s manipulation of friends and family supports and generating sympathy and trust in order to cut off these resources to the victim. This is a particular issue to members of the LGBTQ community where they may be fewer specific resources, neighborhoods or social outlets.
  • Portraying the violence as mutual and even consensual, or as an expression of masculinity or some other “desirable” trait.

 

(Photo courtesy Sotile & Godges)

Sotile and Godges premiered “I Remember Nicole” during a special West Hollywood presentation Oct. 1. On hand for the ceremony was Nicole’s sister Tanya Brown.

“You portrayed Nicole so beautifully in this video,” Tanya Brown told Sotile and Godges. “But first and foremost, I really want to say—being part of the Brown family, everybody was invasive and intrusive and very few people respected our privacy and what we were going through. These two ladies – every step of the way of this project, you were more concerned about ‘are you OK with this?’ ‘Is it OK if we put this in?’ And so from the bottom of my heart, I really want to say, thank you for respecting me, my family – but more so, Nicole.”

If you need help, call the 24-hour national domestic violence hotline at 888-799-7233 (SAFE).

Also, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s STOP Domestic Violence and/or Domestic Violence Legal Advocacy Project offers services by LGBT-domestic violence specialists, including certified domestic violence counselors and mental health professionals and attorneys who have been trained in LGBT-domestic violence issues.

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Ventura County

Newsom appoints Vianey Lopez to Ventura County Board

Lopez has a lengthy track record in progressive issues including her outspoken support of Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights

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Vianey Lopez (center) with the late Chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez (L) (Photo Credit: Vianey Lopez/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he has appointed City of Oxnard Councilmember Vianey Lopez to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors to the seat left vacant by the sudden death of the beloved chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez, killed in an August traffic accident.

Lopez, 35, a resident of Oxnard, has been a city councilmember for District Six since 2018 and also serves as a District Director for California State Senator Monique Limón since 2020.

According to her campaign for reelection to city council biography, Lopez immigrated to the U.S. at the young age of 4. As one of the youngest of 11 children, there were opportunities she was afforded that her siblings did not have. Raised locally, Vianey attended kindergarten through middle school in the Hueneme Elementary School District before graduating from Hueneme High School in 2005.

Councilmember, now Supervisor Lopez has a lengthy track record in progressive issues including her outspoken support of Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights as well as other key issues including LGBTQ+ equality, immigrant rights, and has worked for several California political leaders including a stint as District Scheduler for former U.S. Representative Lois Capps from 2013 to 2016, a member of the House from 1998 to 2017 representing California’s 24th congressional district.

Lopez was a Program Coordinator for the Oxnard Downtown Management District from 2012 to 2013 and an Administrative Assistant and Concierge at the Oxnard Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2009 to 2010. She is a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens and Future Leaders of America.

Lopez earned a Master of Public Policy degree in International Relations and State and Local Policy from Pepperdine University.

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Southern California

Triple A: SoCal gas prices race up by double digits in one week

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.52, which is eight cents higher than last week

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Photo Credit: Auto Club of Southern California

LOS ANGELES – Reports of additional Southern California refinery issues, along with continued low inventories, have created the biggest one-week price jump at the pump since early June, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. 

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.52, which is eight cents higher than last week. The average national price is $3.68, which is two cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.59 per gallon, which is 17 cents higher than last week, 25 cents higher than last month, and $1.19 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.53, which is 15 cents higher than last week, 24 cents higher than last month, and $1.18 higher than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.53, which is eight cents higher than last week, seven cents higher than last month and $1.18 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.44, which is 14 cents higher than last week, 23 cents higher than last month and $1.12 higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.46 average price is eight cents higher than last Thursday, three cents higher than last month and $1.10 higher than a year ago today.

“Oil Price Information Service reports that several local refineries are undergoing unplanned maintenance as fuel inventories are at their lowest levels in a decade, which caused Los Angeles wholesale gas prices to rise sharply this week,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. 

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Sept. 22, averages are:

Sept 22 22
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California

Newsom signs legislation to support California Native communities

Advances equity, inclusion and highlights the unique history, culture and government of tribes in the Golden State

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Governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills to support California Native communities (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Today on Native American Day, Governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills to support California Native communities and build on the Administration’s work to promote equity, inclusion and accountability throughout the state.

AB 1314 establishes a statewide emergency alert system for missing Native people 

In a ceremony joined by leaders of Native American tribes from across California, the Governor signed AB 1314 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) to help address the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Native people from communities across the country.

Under AB 1314, local law enforcement will be able to request that the California Highway Patrol activate an emergency Feather Alert, similar to an Amber or Silver alert, to assist in search efforts for a Native person who has been reported missing under suspicious circumstances.

“As we lift up the rich history and contributions of California’s diverse tribal communities today, the state recommits to building on the strides we have made to redress historical wrongs and help empower Native communities,” said Governor Newsom. “Today’s measures continue to move these efforts forward, including a new emergency alert system that will provide us with additional critical tools needed to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. I thank all the legislators and tribal partners whose leadership and advocacy help light the path forward in our work to build a better, stronger and more just state together.”

Governor signs AB 1314 alongside Assemblymember Ramos, Tribal Affairs Secretary Christina Snider and leaders of Native American tribes from across the state (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“AB 1314 will help us get the word out sooner when an individual is missing or endangered, enlisting the help of the public for tips and leads as soon as possible when quick action is critical,” said Assemblymember Ramos. “I thank the Governor for signing this vital measure – creating an alert system was a top recommendation from tribal leaders for addressing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.”

The state budget this year invests $12 million over three years to fund tribally-led programs to help address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People on tribal lands. This investment built on last year’s investment of $5 million to fund training and guidance for law enforcement agencies and tribal governments to improve public safety on tribal lands and study challenges related to the reporting and identification of missing and murdered Native peoples, particularly women and girls.

AB 1936 re-designates UC Hastings College of the Law and advances restorative justice efforts for Native peoples who suffered mass killings orchestrated by the college’s founder

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1936 by Assemblymember Ramos, which re-designates the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law as the College of the Law, San Francisco and advances restorative justice efforts for Round Valley Indian Tribes and Yuki people whose ancestors suffered mass killings and other atrocities funded and supported by college founder Serranus Hastings in the mid-19th century. 

AB 1936 also outlines several restorative justice initiatives that the College intends to pursue, such as renaming the law library with a Native language name, annually reading a statement of the atrocities Hastings committed against the Yuki people and providing collaborative opportunities for Round Valley tribal students to gain debate and writing experience, among other efforts.  

AB 2022 will remove the racist and sexist slur squaw from all geographic features and place names in California

Under AB 2022 by Assemblymember Ramos, the racist and sexist term “squaw” will be removed from all geographic features and place names in the state, and a process to review petitions to change offensive or derogatory place names will be created. This comes on the heels of federal action this month to complete the removal of this slur from nearly 650 geographic features across the country, including several name changes advanced by California based on extensive tribal engagement. The Newsom Administration has launched a series of ongoing actions to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the State Parks and transportation systems.   

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1703 by Assemblymember Ramos, the California Indian Education Act. The measure encourages local educational agencies and charter schools to form California Indian Education Task Forces in partnership with local tribes to develop curricular materials that highlight the unique history, culture and government of tribes in their region.

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