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MLK’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’ encourages civil agitation

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This is an unusual Martin Luther King Day. Usually, young people would be learning about the civil rights icon’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech—but teachers are still on strike in Los Angeles and the nation is in its fifth week of a government shut down so that lesson may be missed. And in Washington DC, the president many consider to be an outright racist felt obliged to visit the monument dedicated to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr after the backlash Vice President Mike Pence received for comparing Trump to King on CBS News’ Face the Nation.”

“The vice president attempted to compare the president to Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder,” said Martin Luther King III, according to The Atlantic staff writer Edward Isaac-Dovere on Twitter. “Martin Luther King Jr. would say, ‘Love, not hate, will make America great.’”

Others used the day differently. California Sen. Kamala Harris announced she is running for president, as expected. Sen. Cory Booker sounded like a candidate-in-waiting at an NAACP event in South Carolina. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tried to burnish his civil rights credentials, saying he attended the March on Washington as a college student and heard King speak.

And new California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a long statement that started with a quote from King: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“More than 50 years after his passing, Dr. Martin Luther King’s words ring true today. They remind us that moral leadership doesn’t require a person to be in elected office or hold a position of power. Instead, exercising moral authority simply requires the will to do the right thing,” Newsom said. “I remember the quote above when I think about what’s happening in our country today. It’s almost as if Dr. King himself had imagined this moment. During this time of unprecedented tumult, from presidential Twitter tirades to the willful destruction of federal civil protections, each of us has the capacity to make a difference. Instead of giving up or losing hope, let’s gather strength from Dr. King’s legacy and use our moral authority to push for a more equitable state, society and world.”

For King, that moral push came at an extreme cost—his assassination at the hands of a right-wing racist on April 4, 1968 in Memphis. He was 39. But there were other costs, too, as King modeled how non-violent civil disobedience confronts authoritarian power—such as beatings, humiliation and jail. But here, too, King turned powerlessness into a tutorial for assuming moral authority.

On April 12, 1963, King and his associate Rev. Ralph Abernathy put on work clothes and joined marchers in their Birmingham Campaign from Sixth Avenue Baptist Church into a waiting police van. Eight members of the Birmingham clergy immediately published an ad criticizing the campaign in the Birmingham News, calling the civil rights strategy of mass street direct action “unwise and untimely.” They appealed “to both our white and Negro citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense.”

From his jail cell, King wrote a long letter on bits of newspaper and notepads left by his lawyers that was circulated as a mimeographed copy,  then published as a pamphlet, then printed in periodicals, with a portion eventually read into the Congressional Record by New York Democrat Rep. William Fitts Ryan. A year later, King revised his letter and published it in his 1964 memoir, Why We Can’t Wait.

First King addressed being called an “outside agitator” by Sheriff Bull Connor and others before explaining the campaign’s principles and four basic steps: “collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.” The purpose of direct action, he explained, was to create a confrontation that would demand negotiation.

But most of the letter dealt with the clergy’s assertions of “impatience” by the Black community and the “extreme” actions used by the campaign. He wrote:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

King cites practioners of civil disobedience, such as the American colonists who protested “taxation without representation” and threw the Boston Tea Party—underscoring that civil disobedience is based in a person’s right to refuse to submit to unjust laws. He also chided the white clergy, noting that Jesus, the apostle Paul and even Abraham Lincoln had been called “extremists” and he was proud to stand in that light. But he scorned white moderates most of all. He wrote:

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

King’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail” is archived at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute.  Listen to King reading the letter here.

 

Once released from jail, King often used the term “outside agitator” in his sermons and speeches, according to Hedrick Smith, who covered King for the New York Times. At Southern Christian Leadership Conference meetings in Black churches in the Deep South, King created an interesting visual that took the sting out of the criminal-sounding slur. In 2016, Smith remembered how King would flip the script:

“They call me an agitator,” he would cry out from the pulpit, his voice rising to put force and menace behind the indictment leveled against him. “Well, they’re right,” he came back defiantly. “I am an agitator.”

Then softening, he’d ask puckishly: “Do you know what an agitator is?” For a moment or two, he let the question hang in the air. People looked around at each other, uncertain.

“Well, look inside your washing machine,” he went on. “There’s an agitator in there.” And he would hold out his right arm, crooked at the elbow like a muscle man showing off his might with his fist thrust upward. And then Martin – that’s what his close friends called him – would twist his right fist sharply left-right, left-right, imitating the jerky motion of the shaft inside a clothes washer. “That agitator is in there, stirring up the water, knocking the dirt out of your clothes.”

“Well, that’s what I’m doing,” Dr. King declared, still jerking his fist left-right. And the audience, catching on, would start to giggle. “I’m agitating to knock the dirt out of our society – discrimination, Jim Crow, segregation, racism. So they’re right. I am agitating – agitating to clean up our democracy. That’s what all of us need to do – agitate for a better America, a freer America, a fairer America.”

From the audience came a roar of laughter, understanding and engagement.

 

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Missouri

Missouri teachers using affirming ‘pronouns’ could face felony crime

The proposed law prescribes penalties beyond a felony charge in the form of forcing the person convicted to register as a sexual offender

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State Representative Jamie Ray Gragg opens a session of the Missouri House of Representatives in February 2024. (Photo Credit: Missouri House of Representatives)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A new bill introduced in the Missouri legislature would put teachers on the sex offense registry if they “contribute to social transition” of a trans youth- including pronouns, haircuts, information, and more. It would make the actions of the teacher “contributing to social transition” a class E felony.

House Bill 2885 was introduced by Republican State Representative Jamie Ray Gragg (District 140 Christian County), a first term lawmaker who has previously publicly expressed strong anti-LGBTQ+ viewpoints as well as being anti-abortion rights. He sits on four House committees; Children and Families, Elementary and Secondary Education, Healthcare Reform, and Subcommittee on Appropriations- Education.

In the bill, the language reads:

  1. A person commits the offense of contributing to social transition if
    2 the person is acting in his or her official capacity as a teacher or school counselor and
    3 the person provides support, regardless of whether the support is material, information,
    4 or other resources to a child regarding social transition.
    5 2. The offense of contributing to social transition is a class E felony.
    6 3. As used in this section, the following terms mean:
    7 (1) “Child”, a person under eighteen years of age;
    8 (2) “Social transition”, the process by which an individual adopts the name,
    9 pronouns, and gender expression, such as clothing or haircuts, that match the
    10 individual’s gender identity and not the gender assumed by the individual’s sex at birth;
    11 (3) “Teacher”, as that term is defined in subdivisions (4), (5), and (7) of section
    12 168.104.

The proposed law prescribes penalties beyond a felony charge in the form of forcing the person convicted to register as a Tier I sexual offender with required annual registration.

Missouri legislative political watchers told the Blade late Thursday that the measure probably will die in committee hearings and should it make it to the floor of the House, passage is unlikely.

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Los Angeles

Mom says beating & stabbing of her 16-year-old son is a hate crime

The video shows the teen cover his face as he’s being stomped, kicked & stabbed as homophobic epithets & racist slurs can be heard being used

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Photo provided by the family of the victim

PLAYA DEL REY, Calif. – The mother of a sixteen-year-old boy is asking for community support as her son recovers from a vicious beating and stabbing by multiple people at Dockweiler Beach while his attackers shouted racial and homophobic slurs, the entire incident caught on mobile phone video.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department told the Blade that based on witness statements some of the suspect assailants have been identified as minors and are being interviewed by LAPD detectives. The spokesperson noted that investigators are aware of the video footage of the attack, including it in their criminal probe.

The mother Frankie, who chose to remain unidentified by her surname, told both the LAPD and KABC 7 Eyewitness News the assault happened Feb. 10 at a bonfire party at the beach. She says her son suffered a concussion and spent days in the intensive care unit with severe injuries.

“He had a tube going through his chest. They had to collapse a lung to repair the other lung,” she said. “They had to take a camera in his stomach to check to see if there was anything else going on in his stomach because there was so much blood.”

According to the mother, the fight started after her son tried to help a friend and that he was not the aggressor – a detail police confirmed to KABC Eyewitness News.

“When he went to go help her up I guess the guys didn’t like it, and they came and wanted to fight, and my son didn’t want any problems,” his mother said. “The guy just pushed him, and then another guy came and they just all started attacking him – there was nothing my son could do.”

The video showed the teen cover his face as he’s being stomped, kicked and stabbed by at least five assailants. Also homophobic epithets and racist slurs can be heard yelled by the attackers. Initially when she got to hospital, When she got to the hospital, doctors told her they weren’t sure if he would survive. “Everything went black from there,” she added.

The LAPD has not classified it as a hate crime and continue to investigate.

The mother has set up a GoFundMe page to help offset medical expenses which continue to increase as he remains in hospital recovering and the costs of relocating.

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U.S. Federal Courts

N.Y. AG joins multi-state brief in Colo. anti-trans discrimination case

“Denying service to someone simply because of who they are is illegal discrimination, plain and simple,” James said

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New York Attorney General Letitia James. (Photo Credit: State of New York)

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday joined a brief by 18 other Democratic state attorneys general urging the Colorado Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling against Masterpiece Cakeshop for anti-trans discrimination.

A customer, Autumn Scardina, sued the business over claims that it refused to provide her a cake upon learning that it was for a celebration of her transition. The case is not the first in which owner Jack Smith has faced claims of anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

In 2012, Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to fulfill an order for a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, which led to the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission — and a narrow ruling that did not address core legal questions weighing the constitutionality of First Amendment claims vis-a-vis the government’s enforcement of LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

“Denying service to someone simply because of who they are is illegal discrimination, plain and simple,” James said in a press release. “Allowing this kind of behavior would undermine our nation’s fundamental values of freedom and equality and set a dangerous precedent.”

She added, “I am proud to stand with my fellow attorneys general against this blatant transphobic discrimination.”

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Scardina, noting that Smith objected to fulfilling her cake order only after learning about her intended use for it “and that Phillips did not believe the cake itself expressed any inherent message.”

The fact pattern in both cases against Masterpiece Cakeshop resembles that of another case that originated in Colorado and was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court last year, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis.

This time, the justices did not sidestep the question of whether the state’s anti-discrimination law can be enforced against a business owner, Lorie Smith, a website designer who claimed religious protections for her refusal to provide services to a same-sex couple for their nuptials.

The court’s conservative supermajority ruled in favor of Smith, which was widely seen as a blow to LGBTQ rights.

Joining James in her brief are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and D.C.

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West Hollywood

Settlement in lawsuit between WeHo trans activist & LASD

According to court docs “the parties advise the Court that a full and complete settlement of the case was reached on February 26, 2024”

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Annie Jump Vicente booing during the swearing in of West Hollywood Mayor John Erickson. (Photo by Paulo Murillo)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – A joint settlement has been reached in a legal case involving plaintiff Annie Jump Vicente, a trans activist and resident of West Hollywood, and defendants the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), the County of Los Angeles, and ten individual sheriff deputies identified as ‘Does.’

According to court documents obtained by WEHO TIMES, “the parties hereby jointly advise the Court that a full and complete settlement of the case was reached on February 26, 2024.”

Furthermore, “The parties anticipate that they will be able to finalize the settlement documents, provide the settlement draft to Plaintiff, and file a final stipulated dismissal of the entire case with prejudice within sixty (60) days.”

Jump, also known as Annie Vicente Jump, a transgender woman, filed the civil rights lawsuit against LASD, ten individual West Hollywood Station LASD deputies (referred to as Doe LASD Deputies), and the County of Los Angeles. The lawsuit stemmed from an incident on December 7, 2022, when Jump was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly obstructing Sheriff deputies from entering her apartment building while responding to a domestic violence call.

Jump faced charges under Penal Code § 148(a)(1) PC, which criminalizes willfully resisting, delaying, or obstructing peace officers or EMTs in the performance of their official duties. However, a Los Angeles County District Attorney Charge Evaluation Sheet dated December 21, 2022, concluded that “the defendant’s total conduct cannot be characterized other than a refusal to consent to a request to enter her apartment. Such conduct cannot constitute grounds for a lawful arrest or subsequent search and seizure… Refusal to stand aside and permit a requested entry, even when officers… had a right to force an entry… cannot constitute a violation of section 148.”

The civil case, number 2:23-cv8584, was filed on October 11, 2023, by the Law Offices of Christian Contreras. The list of complaints for damages included allegations of negligence, false arrest/imprisonment, assault and battery, violations of the Bane Act (Civil Code § 52.1) and the Ralph Act (Civil Code § 51.7), violations of the First Amendment for retaliation for protected speech (42 USC § 1983), violations of the Fourth Amendment for excessive force (42 USC § 1983), municipal liability for unconstitutional policy, custom, or practice, and municipal liability for failure to train.

The defendants retained the services of Collison, Daehnke, Inlow & Greco, a civil litigation defense firm specializing in various civil litigation matters.

Attorney Laura E. Inlow, with nearly 30 years of practice, leads the firm’s Governmental Entity Liability Practice Group, focusing on police misconduct and civil rights cases under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as professional liability, premises, and general liability matters. Attorney Lenore C. Kelly brings extensive experience in the aggressive defense of public entities, particularly in cases involving law enforcement use of force, civil rights violations, employment disputes, complex tort, and general casualty.

Jump alleged that she was attacked and arrested by unidentified LASD deputies on December 7, 2022, while officers were responding to a domestic violence call. The Complaint stated that upon returning home with groceries, Jump found LASD deputies demanding entry into the building to investigate a domestic violence incident involving her neighbors, who were out of town and requesting a search warrant. Jump was forcibly pulled out of her doorway, causing injuries. Two days earlier, Jump had criticized LASD’s negligence at a West Hollywood city council meeting.

Jump says the incident caused severe mental and emotional distress, including feelings of shame, disillusionment with the justice system, fear of law enforcement, and PTSD.

Related

In a recent development this month, West Hollywood Sheriff deputies arrested Ms. Vicente on Thursday, February 15, 2024, for a separate incident and is currently facing a felony assault with a deadly weapon (245 PC) for allegedly striking a Block by Block Ambassador on the head with a flashlight. Captain Moulder of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station stated that a second suspect is outstanding. Detectives are continuing to actively investigate this case.

During a recent West Hollywood City Council meeting, Ms. Vicente alleged that she had been sexually assaulted and battered by the Block by Block ambassador and asked the City to end its contract with Block by Block security. “He beat the shit out of me,” she said during public comment. “And then he had me arrested and charged with a felony.”

However, a video released by the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station shows a violent attack against the Block by Block ambassador. Two individuals assaulted him while he was on his lunch break according to Captain Moulder. One of the attackers was identified as Ms. Vicente and arrested. The other suspect is still at large as of the posting of this piece. LASD detectives released a Special Bulletin asking for the public’s help in identifying the second person.

Details on the recent settlement have not yet been disclosed, and there is no word yet on whether Ms. Jump will be filing another lawsuit for her most recent arrest.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Californians urged to know their voting rights before Super Tuesday

As Election Day fast approaches, all Californians should be aware of their rights and legal protections as they fulfill their civic duty

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Calif. Attorney General Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes, and California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Weber. (Photo Credit: State of California)

OAKLAND, Calif. – California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D. are encouraging all Californians to understand their rights as a voter, learn more about the state’s voting protections, and make a plan to vote before the Presidential Primary Election on March 5, 2024.

As Election Day fast approaches, all Californians should be aware of their rights and legal protections as they fulfill their civic duty.

“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Knowledge is power; I implore all Californians to know their rights as voters and plan to make their voices heard at the polls. It is important for everyone to do their part to help ensure our democracy prospers. The California Department of Justice is committed to protecting the rights of all voters in our state.”  

 “This year, we observe the 60th Anniversary of Freedom Summer, an effort to empower those whose voting rights had been denied for decades,” said California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D. “In today’s political environment, it’s important to affirm that you have explicit enumerated rights as a voter in California, and that the Attorney General and I are committed to protecting those rights.”

Prior to the Presidential Primary Election, it is important to make sure you have a plan to cast your ballot by March 5, 2024. You can visit vote.ca.gov for more helpful information on the election, including where to find your polling place. As soon as you receive your ballot, you may cast your vote by mail or through other options made available in your area by county elections officials. You can also track your vote-by-mail ballot by signing up with the Secretary of State’s Office here for text, email, or voice status alerts.

On Election Day, it is important for California’s voters to know their rights. The California Voter Bill of Rights is available on the Secretary of State’s website in nearly 30 different languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese, Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Burmese, Gujarati, Hmong, Ilocano, Indonesian, Laotian, Mien, Mongolian, Nepali, Persian, Punjabi, Syriac, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. This is an important tool for understanding your rights as a Californian voter.

 In California, you have the following rights: 

  • The right to vote if you are a registered voter, without having to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls;
  • The right to vote if you are a registered voter even if your name is not on the list through use of a provisional ballot;
  • The right to vote if you are still in line when the polls close;
  • The right to cast a secret ballot;
  • The right to get a new ballot if you have made a mistake;
  • The right to get help casting your ballot;
  • The right to drop off your completed vote-by-mail ballot at any polling place;
  • The right to get election materials in a language other than English;
  • The right to ask elections officials questions about election procedures; and
  • The right to report any illegal or fraudulent election activity.

If you believe you have been denied any of these rights or are aware of any election fraud or misconduct, please call the Secretary of State’s confidential toll-free Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683). Under California law, voters are protected from, among other things, election interference, voter intimidation, and electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place. California law enforcement agencies are empowered to enforce California’s election laws, including during voting that occurs between now through Election Day. More information on California laws protecting the rights of voters can be found in a law enforcement bulletin available here

Every vote matters, and the California Department of Justice and Secretary of State’s Office remain committed to ensuring that all elections in the state are safe, fair, and accessible to every voter.

On Election Day, the California Department of Justice is on call to provide additional assistance to the Secretary of State’s Office in enforcing California’s election laws where needed through a team of attorneys and administrative staff located across the state.

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Texas

Texas AG: PFLAG must provide names, details of trans members

On Thursday, a legal filing by PFLAG National revealed that Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas was seeking identification of trans members

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaking with Republican voters in 2023. (Photo Credit: Office of the Attorney General/Facebook)

By Erin Reed | AUSTIN, Texas – In a legal filing Thursday, PFLAG National sought to block a new demand from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that would require the organization to identify its Texas transgender members, doctors who work with them, and contingency plans for anti-transgender legislation in the state.

Paxton’s civil investigative demand, issued on Feb. 5, calls for extensive identifying information and records from the LGBTQ+ rights organization. PFLAG, in its filing to block the demands, describes them as “retaliation” for its opposition to anti-transgender laws in the state and alleges that they violate the freedom of speech and association protections afforded by the United States and Texas constitutions.

The demands are extensive. The letter to PFLAG National demands “unredacted” information around claims made by Brian Bond, PFLAG’s Chief Executive Officer, in a legal fight against the ban on gender-affirming care in the state. Bond’s claims highlighted that PFLAG represents 1,500 members in Texas, many of whom are seeking contingency plans if SB14, the ban on gender-affirming care, takes effect.

Per the lawsuit, PFLAG National states that it would be required to disclose Texas trans youth members, including “complete names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, jobs, home addresses, telephone numbers, [and] email addresses.” It also states they would need to hand over documents and communications related to their medical care, hospitals outside the state, and “contingency plans” discussed among members for navigating the new laws on gender-affirming care in Texas.

You can see see some of the questions asked in the civil investigative demand here:

Demand for full information.
Demands that include substantiation of claims by Brian Bond, CEO of PFLAG National; these claims include the existence of 1,500 families in Texas.
Demands that include contingency plans on going out of state or moving.

The demands also encompass communications with out-of-state healthcare organizations, including QMed in Georgia, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Plume. Previous reports have revealed similar civil investigative demands issued to these out-of-state healthcare providers, seeking information on all patients from Texas who have received their gender-affirming care in Washington State at Seattle Children’s Hospitals. Seattle Children’s Hospital, in a legal response, argued that such care, conducted entirely within the state of Washington, falls outside Texas’s jurisdiction. It further contended that Washington has a shield law prohibiting the sharing of protected private information related to transgender and abortion care with out-of-state entities. That lawsuit is still ongoing.

This is not the first attempt by Attorney General Ken Paxton to identify transgender people in the state. The filing points to a previous attempt to “compile a list of individuals who had changed their their gender” on Texas driver’s licenses. This is part of a “pattern of seeking identifying information about anyone who is transgender in Texas,” according to the filing.

PFLAG National alleges that the demands are an “overly broad, unreasonably burdensome fishing expedition” that violates its member’s rights to freedom of petition, association, speech, and assembly.

It also alleges that they are a violation of prohibitions on unjustified searches and seizures, and that the use of civil investigative demands are an attempt to get around judicial decisions that have blocked Paxton from making similar requests in ongoing court fights. The organization also alleges retaliation for standing up for transgender families in the state.

“These Demands are a clear and unmistakable overreach by the OAG in retaliation for PFLAG successfully standing up for its members, who include Texas transgender youth and their families, against the OAG’s, the Attorney General’s, and the State of Texas’s relentless campaign to persecute Texas trans youth and their loving parents,” the filing reads.

In an interview with Mandy Giles, founder of Parents of Trans Youth and former PFLAG Houston president, she concurs with the allegation of retaliation, stating, “Paxton would retaliate against PFLAG… the families can’t defend themselves. They are too scared to be visible. They can’t fight back, they can’t fight for their kids, they can’t fight for themselves, or their trans loved ones. When PFLAG stepped up to help, it was a saving grace. To have them be attacked this way feels like we all are getting attacked.”

When asked about the specific demands for contingency plans, she paused to collect herself, stating, “This is the families worst fear… that something that was offered to them for protection could come back and hurt them…. the nerve of Paxton asking for families escape plans when he was the reason they were escaping.”

Sadie Hernandez, communications manager for Transgender Education Network of Texas, stated that while Paxton was targeting transgender people now, the methods overlap with other fights in the state for reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy. “The way they are coming after trans folks has been seen in the way they are going after abortion rights. We have an idea of what is in their playbook.”

She also emphasized the unique impacts these enforcement efforts have on marginalized communities within the trans community, such as undocumented immigrants, “When we talk about folks disproportionately impacted, immigrant and undocumented trans folks who can’t leave the state, or if you are in a border checkpoint can’t even leave the area to receive any kind of gender-affirming care…there will be a lot of folks left out of being able to access care.”

Responding to the Lawsuit, Lambda Legal Senior Counsel and Director of Constitutional Law Practice Karen Loewy stated, “The Attorney General’s demand of PFLAG National is just another attempt to scare Texas families with transgender adolescents into abandoning their rights and smacks of retaliation against PFLAG National for standing up for those families against the State’s persecution.But PFLAG members’ rights to join together for mutual support, community, and encouragement are strong and we will fight to protect them.”

PFLAG National is represented in the case by Lambda Legal, the ACLU and the ACLU of Texas, The Transgender Law Center, and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.

The Transgender Education Network of Texas provided several funds that they work with, including the Frontera FundFund Texas ChoiceTEA FundAvow, and Lilith Fund.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

The preceding post was previously published at Erin in the Morning and is republished with permission.

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Southern California

Triple A: Local gas prices resume climbing after brief pause

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.74, which is ten cents higher than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices began climbing again this week after a brief week-long pause in most areas, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.74, which is ten cents higher than a week ago. The average national price is $3.32, which is five cents higher than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.85 per gallon, which is five cents more than last week, 27 cents higher than last month, and one cent higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $4.86, which is five cents more than last week, 27 cents higher than last month, and one cent higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.81, which is four cents higher than last week, 25 cents higher than last month, and four cents more than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.72, which is four cents higher than last week, 32 cents higher than last month and two cents lower than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $4.62 average price is four cents more than last week, six cents more than last month, and 15 cents lower than a year ago today.

“According to Oil Price Information Service, the latest Energy Information Administration data is showing increased refinery production on the West Coast while gasoline inventories declined,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “Gas prices are likely to increase further in the next few months as consumer fuel demand grows in the spring and summer months.”

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Feb. 29, averages are:

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India

Indian government announces equal opportunity policy for Trans people

Privacy among regulation’s key tenants

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Indian flag (Photo by Rahul Sapra via Bigstock)

NEW DELHI — The Indian government has announced a first of its kind equal opportunity policy for Transgender people.

The policy will prohibit the disclosure of a Trans person’s gender identity without their consent as the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules 2020 requires. The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry says the Equal Opportunity Policy for Transgender Persons will encourage the fair treatment of Trans people and create workplaces free from discrimination, harassment and bias. 

The policy seeks to ensure a Trans employee’s the right to choose a pronoun, gender and a chosen name — every business, non-governmental organization and other employers in India will be required address the Trans individual with the chosen names in all workplace communications. The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has circulated the notice to all the states and chief secretaries and asked them to ensure the swift implementation of the policy.

The notified policy highlights the importance of maintaining confidentiality of gender identity. 

“Information related to gender identity will be treated with utmost confidentiality,” it reads. “Employees are expected to respect the privacy of their colleagues and refrain from disclosing any such information without explicit consent.”

The policy also states a business’ HR department will launch an inquiry that could lead to sanctions if the policy is violated. The policy also prohibits bullying against Trans people in the workplace.

“Harassment or bullying based on gender identity is strictly prohibited,” it reads. “Any reported incident will be promptly and thoroughly investigated, and appropriate corrective actions will be taken.”

Every organization will have a grievance redress system in order to address policy violations. Workplaces will also be required to have infrastructure facilities for Trans employees — unisex bathrooms and amenities that include hygiene products, for example — for trans people to effectively discharge their duties.

Sudhanshu Latad, an advocacy manager at Humsafar Trust, an organization that promotes LGBTQ+ rights in India, told the Washington Blade he supports the initiative, while adding a person’s identity does play a role in their experiences.

“The care and support, let’s say in this case a Trans person requires will be very different than support a cis woman will require,” said Latad. “They need different short of bases to be covered to be able to perform to the same expectations that a cis man like me would require to perform in a situation or a role.” 

“It is important to give everyone an equitable platform, this is a welcome step because it discloses that the government is keen on working with various communities,” he added. “This formal acknowledgement or expression of interest in including gender minorities at workplace by the central government is a welcome move.”

Latad nevertheless told the Blade the policy alone “would not be enough” to address discrimination based on gender identity.

“There needs to be enough focus dissemination of this policy within the existing workforce,” he said. “Until and unless a senior manager from the government understands the use and need of pronouns in the communities … the implementation of this amazing policy will not happen on the ground.”

Latad told the Blade that sensitization, roundtables and equal dialogue will help unlearn and then learn which is the way forward for providing equal rights to the community. He said the use of chosen pronouns does seem like a small effort, but it does take a lot of effort and it is important. Latad added everyone, not just employers, needs to be taught equality.

Doctor Yoga S. Nambiar, founder and director of Global Rights Foundation and the first Trans person in India to hold a PhD in mental health, said the new policy is good. They noted the government has announced many policies since the Supreme Court issued its National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) vs. the Union of India ruling, but they’re only on paper.

“Till the time the government does not take the initiative to take care of the policies, nothing is going to work,” said Yoga. “Government promised housing for Trans people, government promised Transgender cell in police stations, nothing has came in force as of now. So, if things workout, it’s good, if not, we are struggling anyways. We are fighting for our rights.”

The Supreme Court in the NALSA case in 2014 ruled in favor of the Trans community, saying state and central governments must fully recognize Trans people under the law in order for them to receive an education and health care without discrimination. The Supreme Court also said Trans people will be considered a “third gender.”

Ankush Kumar is a reporter who has covered many stories for Washington and Los Angeles Blades from Iran, India and Singapore. He recently reported for the Daily Beast. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is on Twitter at @mohitkopinion. 

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood in brief- City government in action this week

Women’s History Month; Getting Out the Vote; Strategic Plan Open House; Temp Closure of Sections of WeHo Park; plus more

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Photo Credit: City of West Hollywood/Jon Viscott

City of West Hollywood Celebrates Women’s History Month in March

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood will celebrate National Women’s History Month in March with a series of events to recognize and honor women and women’s history.

The City’s National Women’s History Month events will officially kick-off with the unveiling of two new women’s history month street pole banners honoring two notable women: transgender pioneer Marsha P. Johnson, one of the most prominent figures of the gay rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s and whose legacy continues to this day; and country music legend and actor Dolly Parton. The street pole banners presentation will take place at the regular meeting of the West Hollywood City Council on Monday, March 4, 2024 at 6 p.m. at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard, adjacent to the West Hollywood Library. Attendance is free; no RSVP is required. Limited validated parking will be available at the adjacent five-story structure. The City Council meeting broadcast will be available for viewing on the City’s website by visiting www.weho.org/wehotv or on the City’s WeHoTV YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/wehotv.  

From Tuesday, March 5, 2024 through Friday, March 22, 2024, the globe lanterns above Santa Monica Boulevard will glow purple and gold. Throughout the month, a series of street pole banners that commemorate famous American women, civil rights leaders, and women’s rights activists will be on display along Santa Monica Boulevard. The City’s featured banners include: Gail Abarbanel; Maya Angelou; Ivy Bottini; Hillary Rodham Clinton; Midge Costanza; Marion Wright Edelman; Alicia Garza; Barbara Gittings; Dolores Huerta; Coretta Scott King; Wilma Mankiller; Michaela Mendelsohn; Patsy Mink; Zoe Nicholson; Connie Norman; Michelle Obama; Rosa Parks; Mary Pickford; Sonia Sotomayor; Nadia Sutton; Gloria Steinem; Elizabeth Taylor; Ruth Williams; Oprah Winfrey; among others. This year’s additions to the Women’s History Month banners are Marsha P. Johnson and Dolly Parton.

The City of West Hollywood and its Russian-Speaking Advisory Board will host a free program celebrating International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 3, 2024 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Plummer Park Community Center, rooms 5 & 6, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. The celebration will feature music, food, dancing, and a fashion show. For additional information call (323) 848-6826 or email [email protected].

Supported by the City of West Hollywood, the first annual Sexual Healing/Sexual Health Ladies’ Brunch is a sex-positive and age-positive experience to learn more about women’s reproductive and mental health, menopause, and sexual pleasure. The brunch will be held on Sunday, March 3, 2024 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at The Pleasure Chest and Hind Lounge located at 7733 Santa Monica Boulevard. This event is presented in partnership with The Pleasure Chest and Hind Bar and supported by the City of West Hollywood and its Women’s Advisory Board and the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $45 and available for purchase both online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sexual-healingsexual-healthtickets-823196401597 and at the door. For additional information email [email protected]

Also on Sunday, March 3, 2024 the City of West Hollywood and its Women’s Advisory Board will co-sponsor Guaranteed Abundance: Guaranteed Income Advocacy Training presented by LA Voice and the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles to be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Admission is free. To register visit bit.ly/GBIAdvocacy. For additional information email [email protected].

There will be a viewing party with artist Shaghayegh Cyrous to watch the moving image artwork, Xvarnah, on the digital billboard (Streamlined Arbor) at 9157 Sunset Boulevard on Sunday, March 3, 2024 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Artwork airs every 20 minutes beginning at the top of the hour.  Admission is free. This project is presented as part of the West Hollywood Moving Image Media Art Program (MIMA), an exhibition series administered by the City’s Arts Division, as part of its Art on the Outside program, and is presented with the City’s Sunset Arts and Advertising Program. Xvarnah will be on display through Thursday, May 30, 2024.

Women and Books is a book club that meets on the first Tuesday of each month to discuss books written by women authors. On Tuesday, March 5, 2024 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. the group will discuss The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher. Women and Books is co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood through its Women’s Advisory Board and by West Hollywood Library. Admission is free. This is a hybrid event and will be hosted in-person at the West Hollywood Library’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard, as well as virtually on Zoom. To register, visit: https://lacountylibrary.webex.com/lacountylibrary/j.php?MTID=maa8a00d769f8b023cc81d2d603b7184c

MashUp Contemporary Dance Company’s annual International Women’s Day Dance Festival will kick-off in West Hollywood on Friday, March 8, 2024 with the LA Women in Dance Summit in WeHo from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Plummer Park’s Great Hall, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. The event will feature guest speakers, master classes and an Industry Expo. Tickets prices range from $20 to $65. To register and find out more about the entire  festival, visit: https://www.mashupdance.com/tickets/international-womens-day-dance-festival. This project is supported in part by a grant from the City of West Hollywood. 

The City of West Hollywood and its Women’s Advisory Board will co-sponsor the Annual Herstory Awards & Reception, which is presented by the Hollywood Chapter of the National Organization for Women (Hollywood NOW) to honor a woman who has made exceptional contributions to the community and embodies the spirit of feminism. This year’s honoree is Abbe Land, former West Hollywood Mayor and City Councilmember. The event will take place on Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at 7 p.m. at the West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Admission is free. To RSVP, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/849689954527?aff=oddtdtcreator.

The City and its Women’s Advisory Board will host the Women’s History Month Party to honor the contributions of women and the more than 30 years of service of the City’s Women’s Advisory Board on Friday, March 15, 2024 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room and Auto Court, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Admission is free, RSVP is requested by visiting www.weho.org/whm

On Wednesday, March 27, 2024, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the 27th Annual West Hollywood Women in Leadership Awards and Reception will take place at the Andaz West Hollywood, located at 8401 Sunset Boulevard. The event is co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood and its Women’s Advisory Board along with the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Admission is $25 and proceeds will benefit the Rape Treatment Center at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center. To RSVP visit www.weho.org/whm.

A full schedule of City of West Hollywood events and meetings is available at www.weho.org/calendar.For more information about Women’s History Month in the City of West Hollywood, please contact Larissa Fooks, the City of West Hollywood’s Community Programs Coordinator, at (323) 848-6413 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City of West Hollywood’s Human Rights Speakers Series Presents a Free Screening & Panel Discussion of  ‘Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom’

To recognize the tenth anniversary of the war and the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the City of West Hollywood’s Human Rights Speakers Series will host a screening of the award-winning documentary film Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom followed by a panel discussion featuring Emmy- and Oscar-nominated director/producer Evgeny Afineevsky and Anna Zaitseva, film protagonist, activist and survivor. Crafted from stark footage and exclusive interviews with people displaced by the enduring conflict, Freedom on Fire reveals how the spirit of unity strengthens morale even amid the country’s darkest hours. 

The event will take place on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard, adjacent to the West Hollywood Library. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and opening remarks will take place at 6:30 p.m., followed by the film screening and panel discussion. The event is free, but seating is limited. RSVP is required at http://go.weho.org/hrss.

The City of West Hollywood’s Human Rights Speakers Series brings together diverse communities to learn about and discuss global, national, and local human rights issues in a supportive environment. The series reflects the City’s commitment to human rights and core value of Respect and Support for People.
For additional information about the Human Rights Speakers Series, please visit www.weho.org/hrss.For more information, please contact Joy Tribble, the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Specialist, at (323) 848-6360 or at [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

2024 Public Safety Awards & Luncheon

The City of West Hollywood invites community members to attend the 2024 Public Safety Awards & Luncheon as the City celebrates and recognizes its organizational partners in public safety organizations that have made significant efforts towards enhancing community safety in West Hollywood.

The Public Safety Awards & Luncheon will take place on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Lunch will be served in the Auto Court area outside the Chambers followed by the awards presentation inside. Admission is free; no RSVP is required. Parking will be available in the adjacent five-story structure, accessible from the El Tovar Place entrance off N. Robertson Boulevard.

This year, the Public Safety Awards will be presented to members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department West Hollywood Station, Los Angeles County Fire Department Stations 7 and 8, and to West Hollywood Block by Block Security Ambassadors.

These award recipients have made extraordinary efforts in public safety programs and events, strengthened community partnerships; and have demonstrated leadership in multiple ways that have contributed to a safer community.For more information about the City’s Public Safety Awards & Luncheon, please contact Anita Shandi, the City of West Hollywood’s Public Safety Manager, at [email protected] or at (323) 848-6446. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

Temporary Closure of Sections of West Hollywood Park will Take Place in February/March to Accommodate Special Event

From Wednesday, February 28, 2024, to Thursday, March 14, 2024, there will be a temporary closure of certain sections of West Hollywood Park, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard – including the small dog park and basketball courts – to accommodate the annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party and fundraiser.

Additionally, there will be intermittent lane closures on N. San Vicente Boulevard, one full street closure, and impacts to certain West Hollywood Park facilities, as follows:

Intermittent lane closures will occur on Southbound N. San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and PDC Drive on the following dates:

  • Friday, March 1, 2024 Southbound N. San Vicente Boulevard #1 & #2 lanes will be closed from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.;
  • Saturday, March 2, 2024 Southbound N. San Vicente Boulevard #1 & #2 lanes will be closed from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.;
  • Monday, March 4, 2024, through Thursday, March 7, 2024 (Daily) Southbound N. San Vicente Boulevard #2 lane will be closed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
  • Friday, March 8, 2024, through March 10, 2024 Southbound N. San Vicente Boulevard #2 lane will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.;
  • Monday, March 11, 2024 – Southbound N. San Vicente Boulevard #2 lane will be closed from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Southbound N. San Vicente Boulevard #1 lane will be closed from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.;
  • Tuesday, March 12, 2024 Southbound N. San Vicente Boulevard #1 & and #2 lanes will be closed from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

A full street closure will occur on Northbound and Southbound N. San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue starting on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at 12 p.m.; the street will reopen on Monday, March 11, 2024, at 5 a.m.

West Hollywood Park facilities impacts/closures will occur as follows:

  • West Hollywood Park small dog park and basketball courts will be closed from Wednesday, February 28, 2024, through Wednesday, March 13, 2024; and
  • West Hollywood Park large dog park will be closed from Friday, March 8, 2024, through Monday, March 11, 2024;
  • West Hollywood Park Five-Story Parking Structure will be closed all day on Sunday, March 10, 2024; the structure will reopen on Monday, March 11, 2024, at 5 a.m.

The City of West Hollywood has proudly supported the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and its Academy Awards Viewing Party over many years. This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.For inquiries related to the City of West Hollywood and temporary impacts on West Hollywood Park, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Event Services Division at [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

West Hollywood Invites Community Members to Participate in Upcoming ‘WeHo 40’ Strategic Plan Open House

The City of West Hollywood will host a community open house to kick off the development of West Hollywood’s next citywide strategic plan, WeHo 40. This free event will include a brief program, food, and live entertainment. It will take place on Saturday, March 2, 2024 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kings Road Park, located at 1000 N. Kings Road. Community members are encouraged to stop by at any point during the event to learn more about the project, to provide feedback, and to connect with fellow community members. Translation services will be available in Spanish and Russian. Advance RSVP is not required. 

This community open house will be the first in a series of community feedback-gathering events, which are central to developing WeHo 40. This event will focus on visioning and goal setting, including the identification of potential goals and priorities. Attendees will have the opportunity to contribute their experiences, ideas, and insightful perspectives to support the development of the strategic plan. The program will include a brief presentation followed by small group discussions and exercises. These activities will be repeated several times over the course of the open house; participants are encouraged to drop in at any time to participate. 

WeHo 40 is the City of West Hollywood’s forward-looking strategic planning process. Rooted in 40 years of municipal history – and looking ahead toward 2040 – WeHo 40 will engage residents, community members, and local businesses in setting priorities to create an inclusive and equitable roadmap for the City’s future and build upon the successes of the City’s past strategic plans.

For nearly four decades, the City of West Hollywood has been engaging in the collaborative development of strategic plans in order to shape forward-thinking policies and priorities. The City developed its first strategic plan in 1990. In 2003, the City launched its second strategic plan, Vision 2020. The development of Vision 2020 included the participation of more than 250 community members and helped shape the City’s Mission Statement and Core Values.

Visit engage.weho.org/wehostrategicplan to learn about the latest WeHo 40 updates and sign up for project-specific announcements. For more information, please contact Paolo Kespradit, City of West Hollywood Management Analyst, at (323) 848-6460 or [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City of West Hollywood is Getting Out the Vote: Presidential Primary Election Voters May Vote In-Person, Vote by Mail, or Use Ballot Drop-Off Boxes through 8 p.m. on March 5, 2024

As part of the City of West Hollywood’s continuous efforts to increase voter participation, the City reminds community members that each vote counts and your voice matters in the upcoming Presidential Primary Election.

Key Dates for the March 5, 2024 Presidential Primary Election:

  • February 1: Vote by Mail begins & Drop Boxes Open 
  • February 20: Last Day to Register to Vote & Receive a Vote by Mail Ballot 
  • February 24: Same-Day Registration and 11-Day Vote Centers Open (City of West Hollywood Plummer Park Vote Center, located in Fiesta Hall, 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard) 
  • March 2: 4-Day Vote Centers Open (City of West Hollywood West Hollywood Park Vote Center, located in the Aquatic and Recreation Center San Vicente/La Cienega Rooms) 
  • March 5: Election Day

The State of California allows for conditional day-of registration and allows that voter to cast a provisional ballot. Vote by Mail postal mail-in and ballot-drop-off voting for registered voters began on February 1, 2024. Many LA County Vote Centers will begin operating on February 24, 2024; there will be two City of West Hollywood Vote Centers (Plummer Park opens on February 24 and West Hollywood park opens on March 2). 

Vote Centers are open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the pre-Election Day voting period. On Election Day, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, Vote Centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For all LA County Vote Center locations and estimated wait times, visit https://locator.lavote.gov/locations/vc

The City of West Hollywood provides two free options for residents who need transportation assistance to vote in person at a Vote Center. Cityline makes regular stops at or within a short distance of voting locations. For a route and schedule, visit www.weho.org/cityline. Dial-a-Ride is a rideshare service for West Hollywood residents over 62 or who are living with a disability (of any age) available between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday by reservation. Advance registration is required; to register, call toll-free (800) 447-2189.

In addition to postal Vote by Mail and in-person voting at Vote Centers for the March 5, 2024 Presidential Primary Election, the City of West Hollywood has worked with LA County to establish three Ballot Drop Box locations in West Hollywood. These Ballot Drop Boxes are bright yellow and clearly marked. They feature safety and security features, such as 24-hour electronic monitoring. Locations are as follows:

  • West Hollywood City Hall, located at 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard

(Ballot Drop Box located behind City Hall, off of N. Sweetzer Avenue)

  • West Hollywood Library, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard

(Ballot Drop Box located on the west side of the street, in front of the library)

  • Plummer Park, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard

(Ballot Drop Box located in front of the Plummer Park Community Center)

The City of West Hollywood encourages every eligible voter to have a vote plan with the following tips:

  • Check your voter registration status or register to vote at www.lavote.gov/vrstatus or call (800) 815-2666;
  • Decide how you would like to vote: Fill in your ballot and drop off a ballot at a Ballot Drop Box or a Vote Center; or, Vote in-person at a Vote Center;
  • Educate yourself about the issues and then vote as soon as you receive your ballot;
  • Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to vote or register to vote;
  • Assist those who need help with their mail-in ballot or offer to take a homebound senior to a Vote Center; and
  • Track your ballot. You can sign-up to receive personalized text messages, emails, and/or automated voice messages on your Vote-by-Mail ballot (whether sent by mail or dropped off at a Ballot Drop Box or Vote Center) by subscribing to Where’s My Ballot. This is a free service available to all registered voters that provides updated information about where your ballot is and when you can expect to receive it. Sign up to be notified of the status of your ballot at california.ballottrax.net/voter.

City of West Hollywood voters receive complete ballot information by mail directly from the LA County Registrar-Recorder. More election information is available at www.weho.org/elections.  

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For up-to-date information about City of West Hollywood news and events, follow @wehocity on social media, sign-up for news updates at www.weho.org/email, and visit the City’s calendar of meetings and events at www.weho.org/calendar. West Hollywood City Hall is open for walk-in services at public counters or by appointment by visiting www.weho.org/appointments. City Hall services are accessible by phone at (323) 848-6400 and via website at www.weho.org. Receive text updates by texting “WeHo” to (323) 848-5000.

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U.S. Federal Courts

Florida gay man found guilty of threatening a member of Congress

Lawyers for Stanzione noted that he told federal agents that “he feels offended by Santos and does not want him in his (gay) community”

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USCG Station Eatons Neck Officer-in-Charge BMCS Erich White, disgraced former U.S. Rep. George Santos, and Capt. Eva J. Van Camp, former Commanding Officer U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, April 2023. (Photo Credit: USCG Public Affairs)

MIAMI, Fla. – On Feb. 22, following a two-day trial, a federal jury in Ft. Lauderdale convicted a man for calling the office of former U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) in Washington D.C. and threatening to kill Santos and another person. 

On Jan. 29, 2023, Frank Stanzione, 53, of Boynton Beach, Florida, made a telephone call from his residence in Boynton Beach to the office of a member of the United States House of Representatives. Stanzione left a voice message for the member that stated the following:

[Victim 1 former Rep. Santos] you fat fucking piece of shit fucker. You better watch your mother fucking back because I’m gonna bash your mother fucking fucker head in with a bat until your brains are splattered across the fucking wall. You lying, disgusting, disgraceful, mother fucking fucker. You mother fucking piece of shit. You’re gonna get fucking murdered you goddamn lying piece of garbage. Watch your back you fat, ugly, piece of shit. You and [Victim 2 Redacted] are dead.

The Congress member’s chief of staff reported the message to the United States Capitol Police (USCP) the next morning. The USCP began investigating the voice message as a threat and determined that it was made from a telephone number assigned to Stanzione. 

On Jan. 31, 2023, USCP special agents went to the address associated with the telephone number and interviewed Stanzione. USCP confirmed that Stanzione had left the voice message for the Congress member. Stanzione found the telephone number on an online search engine. 

In a motion to dismiss, lawyers for Stanzione noted in the interview he told federal agents that “he feels offended by Santos and does not want him in his (gay) community.” He said he left the message to make Santos “feel like a piece of shit.”

The court filing described Stanzione as “a long-standing, active advocate for gay rights.”

In the motion to dismiss, Stanzione claimed his prosecution was “retaliatory and vindictive” and “based upon his exercise of political speech related to gay rights.”

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“Others who have allegedly committed similar acts,” his attorneys stated in the motion, “have not been prosecuted.”

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida and Chief J. Thomas Manger of USCP announced the guilty verdict. The USCP – Threat Assessment Section investigated the case.

Stanzione will be sentenced in May and faces penalties including up to five years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.

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