Connect with us

Los Angeles

Matthew Contreras picks up torch passed by John Lewis

Published

on

Los Angeles County Democratic Party honoree Matthew Contreras (Screen grab from JFK Awards 7-25-2020)

After civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis died July 17, woke people around the globe sang the praises of the humble leader born to sharecroppers in rural Troy, Alabama who, at 23, became the youngest speaker at the famous 1963 March on Washington and went on to become the “conscience” of the US Congress.

Lewis’ spirit infused the virtual Los Angeles County Democratic Party’s JFK Awards show eight days later, with California Democratic Party icon Roz Wyman, who won a seat on the LA City Council at 22, praising another civil rights hero and LACDP honoree Dolores Huerta as “my John Lewis of California.”

Wyman announced the recipients of this year’s Roz Wyman Democratic Youth Leadership Award — “our future” — as Erica Liepmann, president of the LA County Young Democrats and Erica has a accountDigital Strategist for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Matthew Contreras, a gay student at California State University/ Northridge set to serve as a political intern through The Panetta Institute for Public Policy on the cusp of his 22nd birthday (on Aug. 5).

Though Contreras didn’t mention Lewis during his acceptance remarks, the young activist nonetheless best articulated the core principles the civil rights hero passed on to young activists in his final New York Times opinion piece entitled: “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation.” 

“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself,” Lewis wrote. “When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So, I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”

Contreras picked up the torch, noting his involved participation in community matters, including serving on the boards of directors of two non-profit organizations and promoting diversity inclusion.

The “four characteristics of servant leadership that resonate with me are listening, stewardship, empathy, and valuing people. As a first generation Latinx Gen-Zer, these are the qualities I look for in people when I vote,” Contreras said. “My decisions indeed have consequences and every time I vote on an action item, I keep my community in mind. Time and time again, we see people in charge exploit vulnerable communities in their special interest.”

With the critical November elections fast approaching, he pledged to continue “to have difficult conversations with peers, mentors and community members,” as well as “pushing for change” by phone banking, organizing, donating money and informing community members on how “they, too, can get involved in the democratic process.”

Though people will not always agree, he said, “it is really important to move forward together” while “living through an extraordinary moment in our lives.”

Politics “is very personal,” Contreras said. “I have never forgotten why I do the work. I do it for those so often left out of the conversations we have. And I want you all to practice radical inclusivity and invite people to the table and respect people’s world views that are different than your own.

“You see, the political landscape is changing before our very eyes,” Contreras continued. “My generation of voters are looking for strong, community-based servant leaders that don’t just talk but act….We’re starting to hold people accountable and reevaluating concepts that we’re learning in schools. The stakes have never been higher and people are starting to wake up.”

LACDP Executive Director Drexel Heard, II with his friend Matthew Contreras (Photo courtesy Heard)

“Matthew continues to embody not only the best in Los Angeles, but the best in our Nation,” LACDP Executive Director Drexel Heard, II, Contreras’ mentor, told the Los Angeles Blade. “Empathy, Drive, Selflessness has been his NorthStar for as long as I’ve known him. As we look to cultivate and engage more young people in our Democratic process and our party, like John Lewis, young Democrats like Matthew show us that the upcoming generation is ready and determined to set us up for a future that we can believe in. I’m proud of his accomplishments and excited to watch what’s next for him.”

“John Lewis said, ‘The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time.’ It is because we are now facing the ugly truth about our country that we are able to say ‘no, let’s not go down that path again,’” Contreras told the LA Blade.

“People want concrete changes that involve shifting money away from the police to communities of color. It’s devastating to see communities of color, especially Black communities, disproportionately affected in areas of life ranging from healthcare to graduation rates,” he said. “The Black Lives Matter Movement is making sure the world is paying attention. If we look back in time to analyze the many forms of protests organized by people of color in this country, we will see that they all had importance in creating societal change.”

Contreras, a senior at CSUN who lives with his parents in Sun Valley, is starting his Panetta internship on Monday. The DC portion, where he would have interned in a Congressional office, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“That really threw me off because I worked so hard for that experience,” Contreras told the LA Blade. “My mother is from the city of Oaxaca and my father is from Durango, México. They both raised me to be a hard-working person in a country that seems to be against people like us. What I really hope to learn at the Panetta Institute is how someone with my background and privileges can use the legislative process to support people in my community. I really want to hear what they have to say about leadership roles for People of Color and the difference that we can make.”

Contreras has packed a lot of experience into his 22 years.

“I came out in high school shortly after having my first girlfriend. I was absolutely in love with this girl, but I just could not continue dating her,” he told the LA Blade. “I remember struggling with suicidal ideation, internal homophobia, and a lack of self-confidence. I began trusting close friends at the time but somehow those secrets came out. For about a year or two, people always asked me if I was straight or gay, but I always lied and said I was straight.”

He was outed at a friend’s Quincenera practice.

“I was one of her chambelanes. During one dance rehearsal, I remember going to the restroom and leaving my phone out on a table. A few people decided to go through my phone without my permission to find messages of me talking to boys online. As soon as I returned from the bathroom, I noticed a bunch of commotion around my phone. I quickly realized that everyone at that rehearsal knew my secret,” he said.

“It wasn’t really my choice to come out that way, but that experience taught me so much about myself, so in a way, I am grateful that happened to me. Eventually, I became more comfortable with myself because I started to find my community.”

Eventually, Contreras secretly started dating boys in high school. “But it typically ended up in getting my heart shattered into a million pieces. My senior year a boy asked me to prom and that was a nice way to publicly tell my peers that I was for sure queer.”

College enabled him to express himself with rainbows in his room and USU Pride Center logos everywhere.

“My attitude shifted. It’s really funny because my parents actually came out to me. On my 18th Christmas, they co-wrote a beautiful letter expressing their support for me and letting me know that they already knew my secret. Apparently, they overheard me talking about my identity with a friend,” Contreras said.

“It was getting super hard having to suppress my true identity at home because it felt like I was having to be two different people at all times.”

College allowed him to develop his own identity and commitment to activism.

Ghandi once said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ That’s exactly what I want to do. I’m an individual driven by action and doing. I became an activist because I wanted to improve my community and create real societal changes. If I complain about something, I’m going to come up with plans and strategies. I won’t just complain and dwell,” Contreras said.

“I learned this lesson through ethnic studies courses at California State University/ Northridge. This truly made an impact on my life, as it did for so many. Student groups on campus have taken what they learned in the classroom and applied it to their communities. When I joined The Queer Collective, CSUN’s LGBTQIA+ Club at CSUN, we gathered together because of common struggles, identities, and interests. I slowly became more vocal on campus and learned about my own privileges.”

Learning about his own privileges “took a lot of active listening and reflection. I figured that if I could support communities with my own privilege, then why not do it? We often see so much negativity and I want to be part of the big picture — no matter how small or big of an effect I have in this world.”

Contreras learned about injustice through his Chicano and Queer studies, as well as working with homeless youth for about a year, seeing first-hand the disparities he had only read about in the news.

“This prompted me to invest my time and energy into standing up for what I believe in. This work is never seen as the high paying career that people go for. I’m doing this to create changes that I want to see in my community,” he said.

“My mentors have inspired me to become a better person for myself so I can one day support the social justice work that they are doing today. These changes take time so I want to be part of that. The victories are worth it,” he said.

“It’s so easy to be complicit but times are changing, and I want to be working towards a better world. My generation is unlearning so much of what we learned in our history books and maybe even some of what our parents have taught us,” Contreras said. “We will be the generation cleaning up the mess of this current administration. It’s about time to take things into our own hands. When you don’t get invited to the table you pull up a chair, sit down and don’t apologize. I want to see younger people more involved in this democracy because we are the future.”

Contreras also notes that there have been young civil rights leaders of color throughout history, as exemplified by the late Rep. John Lewis.

“John Lewis left me thinking how I want to spend my time,” Contreras said. “I will be spending my time and energy fighting for communities that need my support. It’s a calling. In truth, I have been pessimistic about my generation’s future because of Donald Trump.  But I no longer dwell on that because this movement woke up so many people and sparked awareness.”

 

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Los Angeles

LA leaders call for unity & protection for trans community

LAPD has noted a 13 percent increase in overall hate crimes, with LGBTQ+ specific hate crimes up by 33 percent

Published

on

LAPD Deputy Chief Ruby Flores speaks to reporters during a April 15, 2024 press conference. (Photo by Simha Haddad)

LOS ANGELES – Addressing a concerning escalation of threats against LGBTQ+ organizations throughout the country, leaders from TransLatin@ Coalition, the Los Angeles Police Department, and other officials gathered in a press conference to denounce acts of intimidation and to call for unity and protective measures for the trans and queer community.

A bomb threat called in to the LAPD on March 28, aimed at the TransLatin@ Coalition specifying today April 15 as the target date, has prompted an immediate and ongoing response from local authorities to ensure the safety of those at the coalition’s facilities and others. The LAPD has since been closely monitoring the site. 

The suspect, identified as Henry Nolkemper, a white 61 year old male, was arrested by LAPD shortly afterward after being observed entering his residence on West 53rd Street. The police then searched his residence. Despite the absence of explosives, he was booked under serious charges including criminal threats with a hate crime enhancement.

Nolkemper, known to have a history of mental health issues, was on parole for previous threats to the community. His parole has since been revoked and he is currently held on a one million dollar bail.

The press conference today began with remarks from Robin Toma, Executive Director of LA vs Hate, who highlighted the organization’s role as the third largest source of hate crime reporting in Los Angeles, trailing only police sources.

He also stated that LA vs Hate has reported a troubling increase in trans-specific crimes, noting that such incidents are grossly underreported, a sentiment echoed by surveys within the trans community.

Robin Toma, Executive Director of LA vs Hate, Bamby Salcedo at the podium speaking, LAPD Assistant Chief Blake Chow, & Capri Maddox, Executive Director, City of LA Civil + Human Rights & Equity Dept. (Photo by Simha Haddad)

Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO of TLC, expressed her gratitude for the continued support from various partners and emphasized the daily challenges faced by transgender individuals. “Every day a trans woman steps out of her home, it is a revolutionary act. We are people who walk with targets on our backs,” Salcedo declared, setting a tone of resilience and defiance against the threats.

Special thanks were given to Supervisor Hilda Solis and Jury Candelario, a partner from APAIT and a Filipino immigrant, who marked 35 years in America by calling the trans-related stress “chronic” in his long tenure as a social worker. Esther Lim, representing Supervisor Solis, condemned the bomb threat as an act of “cowardice” and highlighted Solis’ support through a previous $55,000 contribution to TLC and a new motion to establish LA’s first LGBTQ+ commission.

Assistant Chief Blake Chow and Deputy Chief Ruby Flores of the LAPD provided updates on the legal actions following the threat. They noted a 13 percent increase in overall hate crimes, with LGBTQ+ specific hate crimes up by 33 percent. “Behind each hate crime, there is a victim, there are families,” Flores said, urging the community to report incidents and support anti-hate education initiatives.  “These crimes affect people in ways statistics can’t reflect.” 

Related

The press conference also featured voices from the community like Mariana Marroquin, Associate Director of Trans Wellness, who spoke passionately about the ingrained nature of hate experienced by trans individuals from a young age, and Cari Maddox, who emphatically stated, “Hate has no home in Los Angeles.”

Mark Bayard, representing Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, affirmed the DA’s commitment to fighting hate crimes vigorously, especially in light of the upcoming election season, which often sees a spike in such incidents.

As the community grapples with this latest threat, the message from today’s conference was clear: solidarity, education, and legal protection are key to combating hate and fostering a society where transgender people can integrate fully and safely.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

24-year-old trans Latina Angeleno & makeup artist shot to death

“This incident has prompted renewed calls for legislative action to address gun control and protect marginalized groups from violence”

Published

on

Meraxes Medina/Instagram

LOS ANGELES – In a tragic incident that has shaken the community and advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, Meraxes Medina, a 24-year-old transgender Latina and makeup artist, was fatally shot in Los Angeles on March 21.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Medina was found dead on the road in South Los Angeles. The LAPD said she was shot in the head and that there was evidence she was also struck by a vehicle. Friends and family have confirmed Medina’s identity, celebrating her life and mourning her untimely death, which marks another violent act against transgender individuals.

Medina, known for her work at Universal Studios and her vibrant presence on social media, had begun hormone therapy and was navigating life as an undocumented person who had faced homelessness. Despite these challenges, those close to her remembered her for her potential and the positive impact she had on those around her. Friends have expressed their grief and shock, emphasizing Medina’s kindness, talent, and the bright future they believed she deserved.

The circumstances surrounding Medina’s death reflect a larger pattern of violence targeting the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color. Advocacy groups have highlighted the disproportionate impact of gun violence on transgender individuals, noting that a significant percentage of homicides within this community involve firearms.

The incident has prompted renewed calls for legislative action to address gun control and protect marginalized groups from violence.

California chapters of groups with Everytown for Gun Safety released a statement underscoring Medina was at least the third transgender person killed by gun violence in the U.S.

“We cannot ignore the disproportionate impact of gun violence on our transgender and gender-expansive neighbors, especially its impact on Black trans women and trans Latinas. We must honor Meraxes’ legacy by continuing to fight to protect our transgender and gender-expansive communities not only in California, but across the country,” said Ashley Castillo, a student leader with Students Demand Action and National Organizing Board Member.

As the investigation continues, Medina’s death serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for a societal shift to ensure the safety and dignity of all individuals, regardless of gender identity. “The loss of Meraxes Medina is not only a tragedy for those who knew her but also a call to action to combat hate and violence against the transgender community,” said one activist.

“Meraxes was a young woman who deserved to live out a long and fulfilling life. At just 24-years-old, she had so much more to give. Yet again, we find ourselves honoring the life and mourning the loss of someone from our transgender community killed by gun violence, and that alarming reality should emphasize our collective need to fight against lax gun laws. We need to come together and remind everyone, especially lawmakers and politicians, that our lives are worth saving and worth living,” said Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.

Bamby Salcedo, President/CEO of The TransLatin@ Coalition, issed the following statement:  “It’s unfortunate that our sister Meraxes Medina had to perish to the ignorance and violence that we continue to experience as a community, and these are just another examples of what our lives are, and we want to ensure that we hold elected officials accountable for bettering our lives and our future.”

KABC 7 reported between 2017 and 2023, there were 263 reported homicides of transgender people in the U.S., according to the organization. A gun was used in 193 of them.

In California, there were 14 homicides of transgender people reported between 2018 and 2024 so far, and 37% were in Los Angeles.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

LAPD monitoring threats against TransLatin@ Coalition

“These acts of violence underscore the urgent need for comprehensive measures to protect and uplift the most vulnerable among us”

Published

on

Los Angeles Police Department vehicles responding to a call for service. (Los Angeles Blade/LAPD file photo)

LOS ANGELES – In a concerning escalation of threats against LGBTQIA+ organizations throughout the country, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) confirmed that a bomb threat was called in to the department on March 28, aimed at the TransLatin@ Coalition (TLC), a vanguard organization for Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Intersex (TGI) Latinx communities.

The threat, specifying April 15 as the target date, has prompted an immediate and ongoing response from local authorities to ensure the safety of those at the coalition’s facilities. The LAPD has since been closely monitoring the site. 

This recent threat comes at a time when the TLC, alongside other organizations within the LGBTQIA+ community, faces increasing hostility, underscored by a series of bomb threats and hate mail aimed at destabilizing the work and well-being of TGI Latinx individuals.

In response to the threat, Bamby Salcedo, the President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition has amplified security measures at TLC and reinforced the importance of emergency preparedness among the staff, emphasizing the coalition’s dedication to fostering a secure and supportive environment despite the daunting challenges posed by such threats.

The bomb threats have been accompanied by hate mail, filled with vitriolic anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and attacks on the Democratic Party, aimed at undermining the coalition’s mission and intimidating its leadership, including Salcedo and Vice President/COO Maria Roman Taylorson.

Despite these attempts to sow fear, the TransLatin@ Coalition stands firm in its mission. “We refuse to be silenced or intimidated,” Salcedo said.

The organization continues to call for unity and action, urging the public to stand in solidarity with TGI communities, report threats or violence, and advocate for greater acceptance and understanding of TGI identities.

The coalition’s commitment to the rights, empowerment, and well-being of TGI Latinx individuals in the United States remains unwavering. Through advocacy, education, and community organizing, the TLC addresses the unique challenges and systemic injustices faced by this community, emphasizing the intersectionality of race and economic status.

As the TLC navigates through these trying times, they have also taken to social media to call for support and positivity, highlighting the unexpected financial strain of heightened security measures. 

This recent threat against the TLC occurs amidst a broader climate of heightened animosity towards the LGBTQIA+ community, as reported by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The HRC’s documentation of fatal violence against transgender and gender-expansive individuals in 2024 alone paints a grim picture of the dangers faced by the community.

“These acts of violence and discrimination underscore the urgent need for comprehensive measures to protect and uplift the most vulnerable among us,” HRC noted.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

Suspects break into home of Real Friends of WeHo’s Joey Zauzig

Reports indicate that a resident in the area contacted the LAPD while the burglary was in progress at a residence on Marmont Lane

Published

on

Joey-Zauzig (Screenshot/YouTube Instagram)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – An attempted robbery unfolded in the Hollywood Hills early Monday morning at the residence of television personality and influencer Joey Zauzig, known for his role in “The Real Friends of WeHo.”

“Last night at around 12am, 3 men, armed with face masks broke into our house while we were sleeping,” Zauzig posted in an Instagram story. “I woke up to it and triggered the alarm as they shattered one of the glass doors. We are ok and the dogs are safe… thank god they were at training camp.”

Zauzig added that it was truly one of the scariest things that has ever happened to him. “Seeing the footage on our cameras and waking up to it,” he said. “I’m still very much in shock. Please be careful always set your alarms”

He later posted video footage of the three suspects creeping into their home and a screen grab of the vehicle believed to be the getaway car.

Joey Zauzig Instagram screen grab

“I thank you guys so much for all the messages and the love,” he posted in an update. “I’m just wondering when I’m gonna feel back to normal because I definitely don’t and a lot of messages are unfortunately from people that have gone through the same thing.”

He said that he’s getting a lot of recommendations for therapy, but all he hopes to do is to get back to normal. “Last night got zero sleep,” he said. “I had the worst nightmares…this is so f*cked up, but now I’m like at a point where I’m just like angrJoey Zauzigy and now I really want to share this to like, catch these people and it’s the worst feeling ever.”

Earlier posts on Instagram show Zauzig enjoying the sun in a Cabo trip, and indication that he was out of town.

Reports indicate that a resident in the area contacted the police while the burglary was in progress at a residence on Marmont Lane in Hollywood Hills just after midnight on April 8, 2024.

The Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson informed KTLA 5 that the burglary occurred shortly after midnight on Marmont Lane. The suspects, described as three individuals—one wearing a black shirt, one in a blue hoodie, and the third in all black—had fled the scene before law enforcement arrived, LAPD stated.

The Real Friends of WeHo reality series premiered on MTV, on January 20, 2023. The show follows the lives of six LGBTQ+ celebrities, personalities, and entrepreneurs living in West Hollywood, feature Brad Goreski, a celebrity stylist; Todrick Hall, a choreographer and singer; Curtis Hamilton, an actor; Dorión Renaud, CEO of Buttah Skincare; Jaymes Vaughan, a TV host and business owner; and Joey Zauzig, who was described at the time as a digital entrepreneur. The show was not picked up for a second season.

**************************************************************

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.

******************************

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

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

LA’s chief financial officer says the city has big financial problems

Projected deficits for years to come will force wrenching choices that threaten the vital services Angelenos rely on

Published

on

LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia. (Screenshot/YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – The City is under going an audit of finances and spending on Mayor Karen Bass and the city’s Inside Safe program after the LA Alliance for Human Rights and a federal judge expressed frustration over the management of funds to tackle homelessness through that and other services programs.

LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia however, is raising alarms over what he says is a serious budget deficit that is creating greater financial issues for the City. “It’s fair to say that the city of L.A. should be worried about our financial health. It’s not looking good and the people of Los Angeles will suffer based on decisions that City Hall makes,” Mejia told KABC 7.

According to Mejia, Los Angeles has a projected budget deficit of $476 million dollars, which is made up of $289 million in overspending and $187 million in less than expected revenues. The overspending occurred in three departments: police and fire – mainly because of staffing issues and overtime – and in liability claims.

“We’re not in a recession. This is not COVID. This is a budget deficit that we made here in City Hall,” said Mejia.

The City Controller in a statement when his office released the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) in January said: “It is my responsibility to report the bad news: this year the City is spending well beyond our actual revenues. Projected deficits for years to come will force wrenching choices that threaten the vital services Angelenos rely on. This is not the result of a sudden economic downturn, but the culmination of years of short-term budget balancing at the cost of long-term fiscal sustainability.”

Mejia also pointed out that “despite widespread staff vacancies, General Fund departmental spending actually exceeded last year’s adopted budget by nearly $200 million. Had the vacancy rate been closer to normal, the budget would have been in the red.

As our Office has consistently pointed out, citywide deferred maintenance of vital infrastructure requires urgent attention. Last year’s underspending of $316 million in budgeted capital expenditures underscores that the City continues to fall behind – which means even higher costs in the long run.

Again, as we have warned, current staff shortages and long-term underinvestment in the training, technology, equipment and facilities for our workforce hobbles productivity and shortchanges our residents. The homelessness crisis and the reality of a changing climate put even further strain on City resources.”

Mejia told KABC 7 he’s against eliminating 2,000 vacant positions to save money.

“It’s not like these positions have been vacant for many years. They haven’t. All these departments have been trying to fill these positions. A few months ago, we were talking about ‘We need to fill these vacant positions. Come on, join the city.’ And now, we’re like ‘Oh wait. We need to hold back because we’re overspending on police, liability claims, on fire.’ Now, we have to cut other positions in other departments in order to cover that overspending,” said Mejia.

He also warned that without a long-term approach to “putting our fiscal house in order, short-term decisions will doom Los Angeles to an inexorable decline in public services, undermining our quality of life and the economic prospects of our residents.”

In a statement provided to KABC 7 and the Blade, the mayor’s office said they remain “focused on the work that has resulted in thousands more Angelenos coming inside last year than the previous year, a record number of LAPD applications, and finalizing a budget in partnership with our city department heads that will be balanced and protect services for Angelenos.”

The deadline for Mayor Bass to release her budget for next year is April 22.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

900 Los Angeles homeless deaths in 2023- 23% lower than 2022

Across all of LA County, there was a total of 1,467 deaths of homeless people in 2023. The City’s 900 deaths make up 61% of County deaths

Published

on

A homeless man sleeps in front of Grand Park along Grand Avenue. (Photo Credit: Mayra Vasquez/Los Angeles County )

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia released a new report Thursday that showed that 900 people died while experiencing homelessness within the City’s boundaries in 2023. According to the data, this was down nearly 23% from the previous year’s total of 1,167.

Mejia noted that “any number of unhoused deaths is unacceptable.” The City Controller’s Office also released a map of unhoused deaths in 2023 using data obtained from the Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner’s office.

Mejia stated “We made this map to bring visibility to the hundreds of deaths suffered by unhoused people in the City of LA that otherwise happen quietly with little attention.”

2023 map and analysis: http://unhouseddeaths2023.lacontroller.app

In response to Mejia’s report, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued the following statement Thursday: “Every death that occurs is a tragedy and we express our condolences to those friends, family and community members who have lost a loved one due to this crisis.”

Bass added, “The focus of our work has been to take urgent action to save lives and while the controller’s data released today indicates a decrease in deaths, we know that there is still much more work to be done.”

The data from the report showed that about 678 deaths or 75% were categorized as accidental, while 160 (or 18%) of deaths were natural, 16 (or 2%) were suicide and 6 (or 1%) were undetermined. The report further detailed that about 40, or 4%, homeless people were the victims of homicide in 2023, accounting for 12% of all murders in the city.

The data on homicides noted the fact that the homeless population makes up roughly 1% of the city’s total population yet accounted for 12% of all homicides in the city.

Racial disparity was also a major point the report noting that while Blacks are only 8% of the City’s population, as a group they accounted for 33% of the total homeless population and 31% of the total number of deaths in 2023. About 274 (or 30%) of white homeless people died in 2023, and 289 (or 32%) of Hispanic/Latino homeless died in 2023.

 

Additionally, at least 338 (or 73%) of deaths were in streets or areas without proper utilities, such as tents, parking lots, parks, RVs and vacant buildings, according to the Controller’s analysis.

Also according to the Controller’s analysis January, February and March were the most deadly months for homeless people in 2023.

City Council Districts with the highest numbers of deaths of homeless in 2023 were 1 and 14 encompassing the downtown, north, northeast areas. District 14 had 269 deaths, accounting for 29.9% of unhoused deaths in 2023, followed by 105 deaths or 11.7% in District 1, and 77 or 8.6% of deaths in District 13 in the Hollywood area.

In the 2022 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority survey, the highest numbers of people experiencing homeless were in City Council Districts 14, 9 and 1, followed by Districts 6 and 13.

Nearly 70% of deaths were suffered by people ages 31-60. Ages 51-60 had the highest death rate.

Across all of Los Angeles County, there was a total of 1,467 deaths of homeless people in 2023. The City of LA’s 900 homeless deaths make up 61% of County deaths.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

South LA trans woman murdered, LAPD are looking for suspects

Surveillance footage captured near the scene of the March 21 murder showed a person dragging the victim’s body out of a light-colored sedan

Published

on

LAPD & CHP patrol vehicles/LA Blade file photo

By Rob Salerno | LOS ANGELES – A trans woman believed to be in her early 20s was murdered in the early morning of March 21 near the corner of West 70th and Figueroa Streets, the latest in what appear to be a string of slayings of sex workers in the area.

The LAPD are still looking for information and have not yet made any arrests.

The LAPD responded to a call around 4:20 am and found the victim suffering a gunshot wound to the back of the head. She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. 

Two days earlier, officers had responded to a call around 8:50pm on Hoover St between Slauson Ave and West 59th, where they found a woman who had been killed by a gunshot. Police believe both women were shot with a 9-millimeter firearm.

Police believe both women were engaged in sex work but have not released any information identifying them.

The Los Angeles Times reported that surveillance footage captured near the scene of the March 21 murder showed a person dragging the victim’s body out of a light-colored sedan next to the parking lot of a high school before driving off.

Police speculated that the victim was shot in the car after a sexual encounter that went wrong. The area is known as a place where sex workers are picked up by clients who drive to nearby motels on Figueroa St. 

The LA Times noted that another 25-year-old sex worker was killed on nearby Western Ave in February when someone in a vehicle fired a gun at the corner she was standing on. Another man was shot in the same incident, but he survived. LAPD does not consider this event to be linked to the other two murders.

LAPD are asking anyone with information to come forward.

******************************************************************************************

Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

L.A. Marathon is Sunday & here are road closures to avoid

Roughly 25,000 runners will stream through city streets with the goal of completing Sunday’s 39th Los Angeles Marathon

Published

on

L.A. Marathon 2023 (Photo Credit: City of West Hollywood/Jon Viscott)

LOS ANGELES – Celebrating its 39th year of running, the Los Angeles Marathon course will begin at Dodger Stadium and it will conclude at Century Park in Century City. The portion of the route that runs through the City of West Hollywood remains unchanged.

Roughly 25,000 runners will stream through city streets, passing by iconic venues, all with the goal of completing Sunday’s 39th Los Angeles Marathon. The 26.2-mile course begins at Dodger Stadium, with the competition getting underway at 7 a.m. and going through several communities, including Echo Park, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Century City.

The finish line is at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars in Century City. Most streets will reopen by 1 p.m. Sunday, with parts of Avenue of the Stars and Century Park East near the finish line being the last to reopen at 8 p.m.

The Los Angeles Marathon route for 2024 will guide runners westbound into the City of West Hollywood along Sunset Boulevard at Marmont Lane, just west of N. Crescent Heights Boulevard. From the Sunset Strip, runners will turn left (south) onto N. San Vicente Boulevard; then right (west) onto Santa Monica Boulevard; then left (south) onto N. Doheny Drive, where they will enter the City of Beverly Hills. The Marathon will run through West Hollywood between miles 14 and 15 of the course.

To ensure the safety of the large numbers of Los Angeles Marathon runners, there will be several street closures in the City of West Hollywood on Sunday, March 17, 2024 from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.; crews will work to reopen roads to vehicle traffic as quickly as possible as the Marathon moves through the City of West Hollywood:

  • Sunset Boulevard between Marmont Lane and Clark Street/N. San Vicente Boulevard (the route enters the City of West Hollywood from the City of Los Angeles west along Sunset Boulevard from Marmont Lane, just west of N. Crescent Heights Boulevard);
  • N. San Vicente Boulevard between Sunset Boulevard and Melrose Avenue;
  • Santa Monica Boulevard between La Cienega Boulevard and N. Doheny Drive;
  • N. Doheny Drive between Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Boulevard (the route exits the City of West Hollywood to the City of Beverly Hills south along N. Doheny Drive).

Parking will be strictly prohibited along the Los Angeles Marathon route. “No Parking” signs will be posted prior to the event. Vehicles in violation will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.

Los Angeles Marathon spectators and community members who are searching for alternative parking solutions in West Hollywood during the Los Angeles Marathon are encouraged to visit the City of West Hollywood’s website, where a directory of parking structures and municipal lots with hours of operation and rates is available online. Members of the public are encouraged to carpool and to use public transportation, taxis, or ridesharing options.

Roads will be closed to the public for the event as early as 3 a.m. on Sunday. They include roads along the route. A map of closures can be found below:

A map of road closures along the L.A. Marathon course for Sunday, March 17, 2024. The closures will begin as early as 3 a.m. (Google Maps)

A full list of complete-street closures can be found at this link: L.A. Marathon course closures.

Along with the fully closed roads along the entire course, several streets will be local access only, meaning only residents can access these roads since they aren’t on the race course. Residents can ask for local access at the traffic closure.

A list of local-access only areas can be found at this link: L.A. Marathon additional street closures.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

Crescenta Valley councilman urinates on doorway to LGBTQ bar

One of the men on the video was later identified as Chris Kilpatrick, an elected member of the Crescenta Valley Town Council

Published

on

DTLA LGBTQ+ bar manager scuffles with men after they urinate on bar's employee entrance doorway. (Screenshot/YouTube KABC 7)

UPDATED: The Crescenta Valley Town Council (CVTC) on Thursday announced councilman Chris Kilpatrick had resigned. “Today, Councilmember Chris Kilpatrick tendered his resignation from the Crescenta Valley Town Council,” CVTC said in a statement posted to Instagram.

LOS ANGELES – In an incident caught on surveillance security video this past weekend at the Precinct DTLA queer bar located at 357 South Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, two men are seen walking into the alcove of the employee entrance to the bar and urinating on the door.

One of the men on the video was later identified as Chris Kilpatrick, an elected member of the Crescenta Valley Town Council. In an interview with KABC 7 Eyewitness News, Jeremy Lucido, bar’s general manager said:

“I was walking to my car on the sidewalk, noticed two guys, drunk with their full cocktails,” Lucido said. “I recognized the glasses from our bar so I knew they (had been) inside. I told them ‘whatsup! You can’t have your drinks out here’ and I went to grab one of the cups and the tall dude pushed me and I flew back.”

Lucido said that when he later reviewed the surveillance security video, he realized that they were the same men he had the altercation with. He told KABC 7 that he posted the video to the bar’s Instagram account which then racked up over 5,000 views and reactions.

“Two bros walk into a bar. 🍻👬😵🚫 Last Saturday night, these two party boys decided to show everyone what not to do at Precinct. They first left the bar with full cocktail glasses in hand, then decided to go to our employee entrance, whip out their 🍤 and piss all over it together. 💛 When done, they rounded the corner where one of the managers spotted the drinks and tried to take them away; the big one reacted by physically assaulting him, throwing him to the ground. Precinct is a safe space for all; let’s have a good time. Don’t be a d*ck. 🫶🏼 oh, yeah, we also have several bathrooms.”

KABC 7 reported that the video has racked up nearly 1,000 comments. Many commenters identified one of the men as Kilpatrick.

“The comments just grew very fast with different stories, other parties and party hosts, and bar managers, like ‘oh yeah, we know them’,” Lucido told KABC 7.

John Duran, an attorney for Kilpatrick in a statement to KABC claimed that Lucido did not identify himself as a bar employee. He says Kilpatrick acted in self-defense, believing he was going to be gay-bashed.

The attorney’s statement read in part: “…public urination is not a criminal offense. It is an infraction under the Los Angeles Municipal Code and one can be cited to pay a fine for this violation. Battery is a misdemeanor offense including an unlawful touching as exhibited by individual one, who grabbed my client first. Pushing back is an affirmative defense if done to defend oneself or others.”

Continue Reading

Los Angeles

LAPD seeking additional victims of celebrity photographer

If you have been a victim or have information about this investigation, you are urged to contact LAPD’s Special Assault Section: 213-473-0447

Published

on

Kenneth Howard Dolin via screenshot YouTube & headshot provided via the Los Angeles Police Department

LOS ANGELES – Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Operations-West Bureau Special Assault Section (SAS) are seeking additional victims in a series of sexual assaults in the Hancock Park area.

On January 10, 2024, a 29-year-old woman reported that she was sexually assaulted by Kenneth Howard Dolin at his residence/photography studio in Wilshire Division. Dolin is a well-known photographer and acting coach.

KTLA 5 news reported that Dolin’s website includes photos of “Saturday Night Live” stars like Chris Parnell and Molly Shannon, former Laker and actor Rick Fox, “numerous multiple Oscar and Emmy Award winning actors” and “luminaries from the worlds of business and media,” he writes.

He has significant connections in the entertainment industry and has been known to solicit victims on modeling websites. The detective’s follow-up investigation revealed that two additional female victims in their mid-twenties also accused Dolin of sexual assault in 2017. All three incidents began with professional contacts that led to reports of Dolin touching women inappropriately during photo shoots when they were alone in his studio.

On March 4, 2024, SAS investigators arrested 64-year-old Kenneth Howard Dolin for 289(a) P.C., Penetration with a Foreign Object (booking #6769557). He has since been released from custody pending further investigation. 

“These victims felt trapped and had to comply with his advances,” said Detective Brent Hopkins, a supervisor with the Special Assault Section. “There’s a huge difference between art photography and sexual assault. We want to make sure we know everything that happened and make sure that line does not get crossed again.”

Investigators believe other victims have yet to be identified. A photograph of the suspect is being released to identify and speak with those victims.

If you have been a victim or have information about this investigation, you are urged to contact Officer Richard Podkowski, Special Assault Section, at 213-473-0447.

During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247).

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly towww.lacrimestoppers.org.

Lastly, tipsters may also download the “P3 Tips” mobile application and select the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.

Continue Reading

Popular