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Long Beach

Garden Grove high school students salute Hitler, sing Nazi marching song

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Southern California’s 47th Congressional District has been reliably Democratic and diverse since 2006, encompassing a large portion of Long Beach and East Los Angeles, represented since Jan. 2013 by Alan Lowenthal. But the district also includes once heavily Republican anti-LGBTQ areas, such Garden Grove where last year a handful of high school students brazenly saluted Hitler and sang a Nazi marching song during an awards ceremony.

According to a video posted to Instagram and reviewed and published by The Daily Beast, the eight second video shows about 10 members of the Pacifica High School boys’ water polo team giving the infamous Sieg Heil salute to Adolf Hitler and singing a Nazi marching song.

This apparently is not unusual. Last March, the OC Weekly reported on Snapchat screenshots of students from Newport Harbor and Costa Mesa High School engaged in a beer pong drinking game, giving the Hitler salute over a red cup display of the Nazi swastika.

Though one student expressed remorse to OC Weekly after the backlash, that student then added: “To us it’s like the “n” word where it doesn’t mean slavery it’s a way to address people and now the holocaust is the new n word and it’s sad but it’s the truth.”

The latest incident suggests there is a more insidious issue at work. The Daily Beast reports that the athlete who posted the video also posted the lyrics to the obscure marching song.

“It’s not something you’d expect somebody to accidentally know about. There’s some means by which they acquired knowledge about the song and associated Nazi issues,” Peter Simi, a professor on extremism studies at Chapman University told The Daily Beast. “Are they on websites or web forums or other social media platforms where they’re engaging with others informed on these issues?”

Apparently school administrators became aware of the video in March, four months after it was posted, according to a spokesperson for the Garden Grove Unified School district.

“While the district cannot comment on student discipline, the school did address this situation with all involved students and families,” the spokesperson told the online site. “The district adheres to strong policies about harassment and cultural sensitivity, and we condemn all acts of anti-Semitism and hate in all forms. We remain focused on educating students about cultural sensitivity and are committed to holding students accountable, educating them on the consequences of their choices, and the impact these actions have on our schools and community at large.”

However, one Pacifica parent told The Daily Beast that the wider community was never apprised of the video, though it was distributed among the students. Nor is there any public indication of punishment or corrective action.

“Generally speaking, especially when something like this involves a group, we would think a more meaningful approach would be to use this as a learning opportunity, as an opportunity community-wide to state what our values are,” Rabbi Peter Levi, director of the Anti Defamation League’s Orange County chapter, told the Daily Beast. “This requires investigation and conversation… We’d like to see a more systematic response.”

As the Los Angeles Blade has previously reported, Samuel Lincoln Woodward of Newport Beach has been charged with the murder of his former high school classmate, Blaze Bernstein, 19, a brilliant gay Jewish University of Pennsylvania student home for the holidays in late December 2017. His body, with 20 stab wounds to the face and neck, was discovered in a shallow Borrego Park grave a week after he disappeared on Jan. 2.

On Nov. 9, 2018, Woodward, 21, entered a plea of not guilty to murder in Orange County Superior Court. Judge Kimberly Menninger denied bail, saying she thought Woodward posed a danger to the community after seeing troves of evidence linking Woodward to anti-gay, anti-Semitic messages and propaganda from the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, which apparently reveled in Bernstein’s brutal murder.

“I love this,” one member wrote of the killing, according to copies of the online chats obtained by ProPublica, which first exposed Woodward’s involvement with Atomwaffen. “Sam did something stupid,” wrote one member. “Not that the faggot kike didn’t deserve to die. Just simply not worth a life in prison for.”

On Nov. 10, 2018, CBS News “48 Hours” also broadcast an investigation into Woodward’s connection to Atomwaffen, including the photo of him in an Atomwaffen mask giving the Nazi salute.

Sam Woodward was … absolutely, definitely … a member of Atomwaffen Division,” British journalist and CBS News consultant Jake Hanrahan told “48 Hours.” “They made T-shirts using Sam Woodward’s mug shot.”

Woodward’s Atomwaffen friends “call him the gay, the one-man gay, Jew wrecking ball. You know, like kind of reveling in this idea that he’s killed this gay, Jewish kid,” Hanrahan said.

Though they wear similar masks, the nationwide Atomwaffen is different from the local white supremacist group Rise Above Movement (RAM), which saw four members arrested Oct. 2 on federal charges for allegedly traveling to Virginia last year with the intent to incite a riot at the deadly far-right rallies in Charlottesville.

“Inspired by the writings of Hitler and the idea of ‘white jihad,’ members of groups like R.A.M. and Proud Boys don’t need much provocation to become violent. Indeed, members of Atomwaffen Division have been charged in five killings over the past two years,” including Woodward, former Nazi Christian Picciolini wrote in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

“It is true that the leaders of such groups draw in disillusioned young men who believe the world has sidelined them. But just because their members look familiar to many Americans does not make them less dangerous. Their violence is part of a growing pattern of domestic terrorism and should not be excused as an adolescent blip.

“Before the Third Reich murdered tens of millions of people,” wrote Picciolini, “it began in small Munich beer halls, just a few loyal street thugs with a social club.”

 

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Long Beach

ILGA World Conference to take place in Long Beach in May

Pandemic prompted organizers to postpone event

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(Photo courtesy of ILGA World)

GENEVA — ILGA World on Wednesday announced its conference that had been scheduled to take place this month in Long Beach will now happen in May.

“Our World Conference will be going ahead, and the health, safety and well-being of all will be at the highest priority,” said ILGA World Co-Secretaries General Luz Elena Aranda and Tuisina Ymania Brown in a press release. “In such a challenging moment in history, it is more important than ever that our communities from around the world have a shared and safe space to come together, reconnect, and move forward.”

The 2022 ILGA World Conference, which the It Gets Better Project will host, will take place at the Westin Long Beach from May 2-6. Organizers last November announced they had postponed it because of the pandemic.

Registration for the conference is now open. ILGA World in its press release said “more details about all safety measures” surrounding COVID-19 “are forthcoming.”

“We are thankful for all those who submitted proposals for thematic pre-conferences, and we will be able to announce them soon”, said ILGA World Executive Director Julia Ehrt. “As the program of our World Conference develops, we will continue to look into ways to ensure the largest possible participation from our members and LGBTI communities from across the world—including in digital ways.”

LGBTQ rights groups in the U.S. and around the world have begun to hold in-person events as COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to increase and more countries begin to lessen travel restrictions.

More than 1,000 activists from around the world attended the WorldPride 2021 Human Rights Conference that took place in Denmark and Sweden in August. The National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference is scheduled to take place in person in January in New Orleans.

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Long Beach

Pilot program for homeless student overnight parking launched

Students participating in the Safe Parking Pilot Program would also be case-managed by LBCC staff in order to find long-term stable housing

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Long Beach City College's Pacific Coast Campus Parking Structure (Photo Credit: LBCC)

LONG BEACH – A first of its kind program in the greater Los Angeles region, designed to assist homeless community college students by allowing them to stay in their personal vehicles overnight in a parking structure owned by Long Beach City College (LBCC), launched this week.

“Our goal for this program is that it will serve as a pathway to housing stability for our students,” said LBCCD Board of Trustees President Uduak-Joe Ntuk. “These students would otherwise have to be worrying nightly about their vehicles being broken into, trying not to be seen or bothered, and not having the police called on them, all while keeping up with their coursework. It could be an exhausting situation that makes it more difficult to get ahead.”

All currently enrolled students who are experiencing homelessness are eligible to stay in the secured Pacific Coast Campus Parking Structure, seven nights a week, between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The students will have access to restrooms and Wi-Fi throughout the night. They will also have access to showers at the Pacific Coast Campus between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. daily.

For this pilot program, LBCC students must be independent with no spouses, partners, or children sleeping in the vehicle with them. Service and Emotional Support Animals are allowed to stay with the students if proper documentation is provided.

“The unfortunate truth is that LBCC has close to 70 students sleeping in their cars each night —quite possibly more,” said Long Beach Community College District (LBCCD) Interim Superintendent-President Dr. Mike Muñoz. “If we can help to keep our students safe so they can better focus on their student responsibilities, this program is absolutely worth pursuing. Our goal at LBCC is always to remove barriers that get in the way of our student’s success.”

Students participating in the Safe Parking Pilot Program would also be case-managed by LBCC staff in order to find more long-term and stable housing.

LBCC has contracted with a security firm to keep watch throughout the duration of the pilot program from Oct. 25, 2021 to June 30, 2022. Safe Parking LA (SPLA) will serve as a consultant to the College’s Basic Needs Program, which is overseeing the effort, providing technical assistance and training for the first three months.

“LBCC demonstrates incredible leadership in positively impacting their students who are unhoused by understanding that access to stable housing touches all aspects of their life,” said Silvia Gutierrez, Safe Parking LA executive director. “Everyone deserves a safe place to sleep and safe parking programs build pathways to housing and stability. SPLA is excited to be part of this endeavor and share our best practices.” 

The pilot program is the latest in LBCC’s efforts to assist unhoused students. The LBCC Foundation has a fundraising group that focuses on finding housing solutions and the LBCC Basic Needs Office was formed in recent years to provide food and other assistance for students.

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Long Beach

Statue of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. vandalized in Long Beach

This is the second time within the past two years the statue has been vandalized with graffiti often associated with white supremacist groups.

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Picture of desecrated statue via Twitter

LONG BEACH – A statue of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was spray painted with what appeared to be emblems from the Nazi German era including a swastika and the Schutzstaffel (SS) dual lightening bolt runes.

According to the Long Beach Police Department, officers were dispatched to a call about the statue being vandalized at approximately 3:30 PM on Friday. It is located within the Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 1950 Lemon Avenue.

A LBPD spokesperson told the Blade Monday that the vandalism is being investigated as a hate crime or hate bias criminal act and acknowledged that this is the second time within the past two years the statue has been vandalized with graffiti often associated with white supremacist groups.

In a tweet, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia called the graffiti “horrific,” assuring residents that police are working to find whoever’s responsible.

“Our MLK statue is a symbol of hope and justice for the community,” the mayor said. “This hate and desecration has no place in our city.”

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