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L.A. County challenges hatred: Let the battle begin

New campaign promotes dialing 211 to report hate crimes

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LA vs Hate is a community-centered creative campaign to encourage and support all residents of Los Angeles County to unite against, report, and resist hate. (Photo Screengrab lavshate.org)

As we all cope with the constant stresses that envelop the COVID-19 pandemic, raging disastrous events stemming from global warming, economic crisis and other woes, the emergence of a long existing ill has crept into the American experience: hatred.

It is not new, but hatred is entering a new and potentially lethal era. On the one hand, it has been called out in unprecedented ways in movements from #MeToo to Black Lives Matter, where behaviors once overlooked are tolerated no more. On the other hand, the demonization of targeted groups is highly in vogue. Whether the group is designated by a perceived political allegiance, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or age identities, they are minimized, reduced to a mischaracterization and loathed.

Donald Trump, the hatred catalyst in chief, leverages, inspires and stokes the flames of this fear and loathing. He has normalized those who hold anger and outrage near and dear in their consciousness, and had previously stifled their desires to act on those passions.

“Over the last four years, we have watched as a few prominent Americans have repeatedly condoned hate speech and violence against others,” said L.A. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. (Photo Courtesy Office of Sheil Kuehl)

A dozen years ago, Professor Semir Zeki of University College London led a published study on the physiological nature of hatred. The study found that the human hate circuit in the brain includes parts o called the putamen and the insula, and these create intensity and irrational behaviors when the subject encounters the object of his or her loathing.

“Interestingly, the activity of some of these structures in response to a hated face is proportional in strength to the declared intensity of hate, thus allowing the subjective state of hate to be objectively quantified.” Zeki stated. Thus, as these unchallenged ideas go unchecked in many individuals, their own neurology makes them walking time bombs.

Those time-bombs will be defused if the city of Los Angeles has its way.

Specifically, this week, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, the LA County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS), and the Commission on Human Relations launched “L.A. versus Hate”.

“The L.A. vs Hate initiative provides every Angeleno with tangible actions to undertake if they witness or are victimized by a hate crime or bias-motivated incident,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

One of the strategies to reach the hate circuitry in the minds of the angry, is an appeal through the aesthetic. “L.A. vs Hate” starts with art.

Artists are invited to create a thought intervention by bringing the principles of “L.A. vs Hate” to life. Each art composition is authentic and meaningful.

LA vs. Hate GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

For victims, the distribution of this art clarifies what constitutes hate, and how to report it. The first step when a hate crime, or incident has occurred, is to dial 211. Contacting 211 LA is free, confidential, and accessible in 140 languages. 211 LA is a public non-profit (501C-3) organization set up to deliver specialized hot-line and service navigation to resources for those affected by hate, as well as to collect data on the hate climate in our community.


211 LA is not affiliated with a law enforcement organization and is completely confidential. Individuals reporting to 211-LA may also choose to report anonymously. Callers are also offered the option to be referred to follow up services including legal aid, trauma counseling, and advocacy support. In the first six months of this year, 87% of residents calling 211-LA to report hate requested follow up services.

The “L.A. vs Hate” campaign is the umbrella over three campaign components: the distribution of marketing art that defines and educates about hate and how to report it; the 211 LA resource for easy access; and the network of services and support to which victims are connected based on their needs and situation.

The network partner agencies are highly competent and effective in serving the wide range of diverse and vulnerable communities who are particularly targeted for hate acts : youth of color, immigrants, disabled youth, and since COVID-19 related backlash, Asian-Americans.

In Los Angeles in particular, Asian-Americans have felt the blaming rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic. “In Los Angeles County, there is no place for hate. Now more than ever, we must all work together to combat the pandemic and take care of one another. The alarming spike in hate incidents in our County, particularly aimed at our Asian Pacific Islander communities and communities of color, requires a robust and creative response,” states Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.

Some of the network partner agencies include the Anti-Defamation League; Antelope Valley Partners for Health; Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council; Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of L.A. (CHIRLA); Hate Violence Prevention Partnership of L.A. (includes Bienestar, Brotherhood Crusade, California Conference for Equality & Justice, and Muslim Public Affairs Council); Not In Our Town; and San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, Inc.

The “L.A. vs Hate” initiative is not the culmination of a success story. It is the beginning of a remedy to a growing crisis. “Even before this pandemic began, hate crimes in LA County were on the rise, reaching their highest point in a decade last year,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “All of our residents need to know they are valued, that they belong, and that the County is taking action to protect them and respond to this growing threat. By stressing to our local communities the importance of reporting hate and connecting hate victims with supportive services, the LA vs. Hate campaign is one way that we will achieve that goal.”

Nancy Gibbs, author and former editor of Time magazine has said, “If the opposite of love isn’t hate but indifference, then the antidote to hate is engagement.”

The City of Angels has heard the message. Through art, information, engagement and healing… hate will be exposed, dealt with, and vanquished.

Compassion will win, and bigotry will not retreat into the nether regions from which it came, but it will feel the warm flames of disintegration.

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Los Angeles

LA-DWP & Mayor Garcetti announce new outdoor watering restrictions

Sprinkler watering will be allowed Monday & Friday at odd-numbered addresses in the city, and even-numbered addresses on Thursday & Sunday

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City of Los Angeles (Blade file photo)

LOS ANGELES – In a press conference Tuesday Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and officials from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) announced that outdoor watering in the city will be restricted to two days a week starting June 1.

The announcement comes as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California declared an unprecedented water shortage emergency two weeks ago, imposing restrictions after MWD’s board voted to adopt the emergency measures to “reduce non-essential water use” in certain areas. Cities and smaller water suppliers that get water from MWD are required to start restricting outdoor watering to one day a week, or to find other ways to cut usage to a new monthly allocation limit.

LADWP

In Tuesday’s press conference Mayor Garcetti said L.A.’s two-day limit was still more lenient than the one imposed by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which has ordered many of its member agencies to restrict outdoor watering to once a week.

Sprinkler watering will be allowed on Monday and Friday at odd-numbered addresses in the city, and even-numbered addresses on Thursday and Sunday.

For more information visit the LADWP webpage here.

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Los Angeles

Hollywood residents angered over Sunset Blvd. homeless encampment

Many residents are frustrated over the increasing daily criminal activity that has plagued the area, including vehicle break-ins

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Screenshot via KABC 7

HOLLYWOOD – For those who live in the Hollywood neighborhood that surrounds the homeless encampment on Sunset Boulevard at Martel Avenue, the last seventeen months have been aggravating.

Many residents are frustrated over the increasing daily criminal activity that has plagued the area, including vehicle break-ins which at times has resulted in multiple break-ins on the same vehicles.

“We’ve had tons of break-ins. Our garage has been broken into five times. Cars are vandalized. Mail is stolen,” local resident Lawrence S., who lives near the encampment, told KABC 7. “Our building, the building across the street, the building across the street that way — there’s just rampant crime.

“I actually had my sister in-law come to visit for the first time and she parked across the street in broad daylight and within 30 seconds, someone from the homeless encampment was down swinging a club at her. The violence is escalating and we keep asking the City Council, what is it going to take? Do we need to wait till someone’s murdered?”

The encampment is located at 7323 Sunset Blvd. and surrounds an AT&T building. It’s located in L.A. City Councilwoman Nithya Raman’s district who toured the encampment in 2021, joined by residents, including Terry S.

“She promised. She said that she would be adamantly enforcing ADA compliance. That she’s looking into setting up a safe camping location for the campers. Never happened,” Terry S. told KABC 7.

“In August, 41.18, an ordinance, passed and we were very hopeful because finally we thought that they would have some tools at their disposal,” Lawrence S. said. “But the city councilwoman is only enforcing a part of that ordinance, which is the Care Plus Cleanup program. However, she’s only doing it when she feels like enforcing it, which is three times in 17 months.”

Residents say that the city’s efforts to clean up and clear out the encampment only results in the homeless displaced for a couple of days sometimes less and then they return to reestablish the encampment. This past Thursday the city again clean and cleared the encampment.

While an KABC 7 camera and reporter Josh Haskell were working on the story homeless people were in the background reestablishing their presence across the street.

KABC 7 reached out to Councilwoman Nithya Raman whose office responded with a media statement:

“This encampment is a priority for our office, and our Homelessness Team has been consistently bringing services and working with the individuals living at this location. LAHSA outreach teams most recently identified seven people living here and together we worked to move three of them into shelter just yesterday as part of our Encampment-to-Home project, which has already moved 43 people in Hollywood indoors. Additionally, a cleanup took place at this location yesterday and we are working to move the remaining individuals into shelter as soon as beds become available. We are in continued communication with the residents in the neighborhood regarding the status of our progress as we move forward.”

Residents upset with LA City Councilwoman Nithya Raman over Sunset Boulevard homeless encampment:

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Los Angeles

Lawsuit against USC in sexual abuse case of 80 male students settled

“The settlement is another step toward closure for our clients who finally feel a sense of recognition and validation for speaking up”

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Engemann Student Health Center (Photograph courtesy of USC by Dietmar Quistorf)

LOS ANGELES – Attorneys representing 80 individuals who filed lawsuits and made claims against the University of Southern California and former USC men’s health physician Dennis Kelly for allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment have reached a global settlement according to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Mikayla Kellogg.

“The settlement was achieved through the persistence and bravery of our clients who had the strength to come forward to share the harrowing details of their experiences at the USC Student Health Center and the determination to hold USC accountable for its failure to protect its students,” said Kellogg, partner at Kellogg & Van Aken last week. “The settlement is another step toward closure for our clients who finally feel a sense of recognition and validation for speaking up.”

The lawsuit was filed in February 2019 in Los Angeles Superior Court by six former University of Southern California student alumni, all gay or bisexual, alleges that Dr. Dennis A. Kelly discriminated against and battered them while he was serving as the only full-time men’s sexual health doctor at the Engemann Student Health Center on the USC campus.

Since the original filing, 74 additional individuals have come forward, bringing the total number of claimants to 80.

Kelly Van Aken, partner at Kellogg & Van Aken said, “It has been a long three years for our courageous clients who have persevered through intense scrutiny to ensure their voices have been heard. It is our hope that by taking these allegations public and speaking out on behalf of dozens of current and former students of USC, institutions entrusted with the care of vulnerable young people are forced to confront and correct the toxic and problematic cultures that allow abuse and misconduct to continue.”

Dennis Kelly was a physician at USC’s Student Health Center from 1997 to 2018. The claimants allege that Dennis Kelly used his position of trust and authority as USC’s men’s health physician to engage in sexual misconduct under the guise of medical care and disproportionately targeted LGBTQ+ patients.  They further allege that USC received complaints about Dennis Kelly’s misconduct but failed to adequately address them and continued to allow Dr. Kelly to see and treat vulnerable young students without limitation.

Kelly, 72, who resigned in August of 2018 after twenty years working at the student clinic as a primary care physician, denied any inappropriate behavior toward patients and called the lawsuit’s allegations “terribly hurtful.”

“I can’t second-guess or question anything I’ve done,” Kelly said in a phone interview February 12, 2019 with the Los Angeles Times. He added, “I know I did it all professionally and without any other motive.”

Kelly, who described himself as an openly gay physician to the paper defended his actions telling The Times that he had devoted much of his career to counseling LGBTQ patients about ways to reduce the risks of their sexual behavior.

According to Kelly, he never used the graphic terms described in the lawsuit or performed unnecessary genital exams. He said he suspected his stern warnings about behavior that put patients at risk for sexually transmitted diseases were misinterpreted as condemnation or deviance.

The court documents stated that Kelley specifically targeted USC’s gay and bisexual and male student population, “all of whom were young adults and many of whom were visiting the doctor without a parent for the first time,” alleging he subjected to “intrusive and medically unnecessary rectal examinations.”

“Dr. Kelly did not treat heterosexual men in a similar manner and did not perform rectal examinations on heterosexual men who had similar sexual practices,” the suit claimed.

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