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First look at 2021 legislative priorities

We’re going to prioritize our support for bills that advance racial justice

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Rainbow Pride flag over the California State Capitol building ( Blade file photo)

SACRAMENTO – As the legislative session cranks up, Equality California outlined its 2021 Legislative Priorities. Speaking to the Blade earlier this week, Equality California spokesperson Samuel Garrett-Pate noted; “We’ll likely roll out a few more in the coming weeks, but here are the bills we’re sponsoring that have been introduced so far. Like last year, we’re going to prioritize our support for bills that advance racial justice, as well.”

AB 218 introduced by  Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego), will codify and streamline the process for transgender Californians to update their marriage certificates and the birth certificates of their children to accurately reflect their legal name and gender, while protecting their privacy. Accurate and affirming identity documents are critical to preventing discrimination when, for example, enrolling a child in school, applying for a loan, or making medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated spouse.

This is a reintroduction of State Senator Cathleen Galgiani’s SB 741, which Equality California and co-sponsors had asked Governor Gavin Newsom to veto last year because of a drafting error that could have caused privacy issues in implementation. Now that it’s been corrected proponents are moving forward with the legislation.

AB 245 introduced by Assemblymember David Sen-Fu Chiu, (D-San Francisco), the Affirming Transgender & Nonbinary Students’ Names in College Act, will ensure that California’s public colleges and universities allow transgender and nonbinary former students to have their name and gender accurately reflected on their academic records, such as transcripts and diplomas.

The bill also provides a standardized process for doing so. Students should not be ‘deadnamed’ – referred to by the name they were assigned at birth, rather than by their affirmed or chosen name – on their diplomas and other academic records that commemorate years of hard work and achievement.

AB 245 also builds upon AB 711 signed by Governor Newsom in 2019, which covered school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education.

AB 439 introduced by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer Kahan (D-Orinda), adds “nonbinary” as an option for gender identity on death certificates. Codifying inclusive gender identity options on death certificates brings these documents in line with California’s existing nonbinary options on driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

AB 439 continues the critical work started by now pro Tem Toni Atkins years ago to authorize nonbinary identification on birth certificates, court documents, and driver’s licenses (SB 179 in 2017), and to ensure that California respects people’s gender identity even after death (AB 1577 in 2014)

AB 465 introduced by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D- San Fernando),  will ensure that professional fiduciaries are equipped to provide LGBTQ+ older adults and people with disabilities with supportive and respectful care by requiring LGBTQ+ cultural competency and sensitivity training during the education and licensing process. Private professional fiduciaries provide critical services to older adults and people with disabilities.

They manage daily care, housing, and medical needs, and they offer financial management services ranging from basic bill payments to estate and investment management. LGBTQ+ older adults are a particularly vulnerable community and typically have fewer options for informal care and support. AB 465 will help to protect LGBTQ+ people as they age.

SB 110 introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener, (D- San Francisco), will require Medi-Cal to cover contingency management (CM) programs, similar to how it covers other existing substance use disorder services. CM is a substance use disorder treatment that uses positive reinforcement to achieve behavioral change. CM has proven to be the most effective method of intervention for methamphetamine disorder.

Because there is currently no form of medication-assisted treatment for methamphetamine use disorder, CM is a critical tool in addressing meth and other stimulant use. Meth use is a longstanding crisis in the LGBTQ+ community due to historical and ongoing stigma, shame, and marginalization. SB 110 is an important pillar in California’s response to this public health crisis.

SB 225 also introduced by State Senator Wiener, the Bodily Autonomy, Dignity, and Choice Act, will delay specified medically unnecessary surgeries on children born with variations in their physical sex characteristics. This bill does not affect surgeries that are required to address an immediate risk of physical harm, and it does not remove parents or doctors from the medical decision-making process.

The bill builds upon SCR 110 (Wiener), which in 2018 called on health professionals to foster the well-being and individuality of children born with variations in their physical sex characteristics and to heed international human rights guidelines and health authorities in the United States that caution against medically unnecessary surgical procedures that carry both a meaningful risk of harm and can be safely deferred.

SB 258 introduced by State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), the HIV & Aging Act includes older people with HIV as part of the population of “greatest social need” to ensure they have access to the programs and services administered by the California Department of Aging. With recent advancements in HIV treatment, people with HIV who take antiretroviral therapy can keep the virus suppressed and live long and healthy lives.

State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) (Photo Credit: California State Senate)

For this reason, the number of older people living with HIV is increasing and over half of people living with HIV in California are now aged 50 years or older. Unfortunately, our current medical and social service systems are largely unprepared to address the unique needs of this population. Given the continued growth in the number of older people with HIV, it is imperative that California implement effective policies and programs to address their unique needs.

A spokesperson for Assemblymember Evan Low said that the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus was in the process of finalizing their agenda for this year’s session and would release their litany of 2021 legislative priorities shortly.

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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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Los Angeles

TransLatin@ Coalition celebrates 15 Years of advocacy & progress

The organization has achieved numerous milestones, including founding of the Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness in 2015

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Led by Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, the press conference highlighted the perilous situations faced by transgender and Latinx individuals in their home countries. (Photo by Simha Haddad)

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, the TransLatin@ Coalition commemorated a significant milestone as it marked the launch of its 15th Anniversary Campaign during a press conference held in Los Angeles. The event also served as a platform to unveil the organization’s 2023 Annual Report, shedding light on its journey, accomplishments, and ongoing commitments.

Led by Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, the press conference highlighted the perilous situations faced by transgender and Latinx individuals in their home countries, where they often confront insurmountable violence.

Salcedo emphasized the harsh reality that many flee to cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco seeking asylum, only to encounter further violence and danger, often leading to deportation and, tragically, sending them back to potential harm or death.

A poignant moment of the event was the unveiling of a new logo commemorating the organization’s 15th anniversary, aptly dubbed their “quinceañera.” This symbolizes not only a milestone but also a renewed commitment to advocacy and support for the TransLatin@ community.

In a groundbreaking announcement, Salcedo revealed plans for a $35 million state of the art multiservice and multipurpose space aimed at providing a safe and secure space for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. With $20 million already secured, this initiative underscores the organization’s dedication to addressing the pressing needs of the community.

The TransLatin@ Coalition, founded in 2009 by a group of transgender and gender nonconforming immigrant women in Los Angeles, has evolved into a nationally recognized organization with a presence in 10 states across the U.S. It offers direct services to transgender, gender nonconforming, and intersex individuals in Los Angeles, with a focus on empowering and improving the quality of life for its members.

Since its inception, the organization has achieved numerous milestones, including the establishment of the Center for Violence Prevention and Transgender Wellness in 2015, the opening of the first-ever TransLatin@ office in 2016, and the launch of the #TransPolicyAgenda in 2019.

The TransLatin@ Coalition’s advocacy efforts have also extended to legislative triumphs, such as the passage of AB2218 in 2020, which allocates grant funding for transgender wellness and equity programs, and supporting bills like AB1163 and AB 1487, aimed at advancing transgender rights.

With the recent expansion to include the El Monte site and the opening of a new building on Sunset, the TransLatin@ Coalition continues to broaden its reach and impact, reaffirming its commitment to serving the community and creating inclusive spaces where history is made and celebrated.

“Beautiful and amazing people, who are trans, gender non-conforming, or intersex, please know that you are beautiful and amazing and that you are valued. Do not feel alone. There is a whole movement that is fighting for you. Continue to assert your presence within the tapestry of our society. We love you, we see you, we thank you,” Salcedo told the Blade.

As the organization looks ahead to the next 15 years and beyond, its mission to advocate for the specific needs of the TransLatin@ community remains steadfast, guided by values of altruism, respect, transparency, and collaboration.

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Los Angeles

LAPD Police Commission names Dominic Choi interim chief

The son of Korean immigrants, Choi began his LAPD career in 1995 after earning his bachelor’s degree from USC

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Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass with Assistant LAPD Chief Dominic Choi. (Photo Credit: Screenshot/KABC 7)

LOS ANGELES – Assistant LAPD Chief Dominic Choi will be the first Asian-American to lead the Los Angeles Police Department after the city’s Police Commission unanimously selected him to the role with a start date of March 1, 2024, as current LAPD Chief Michel Moore is set to retire effective at the end of February.

Choi’s the first Korean American to hold the job taking over from Chief Moore, whose retirement Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced four weeks ago in a press conference. The assignment is expected to last only until mid-summer, while a nationwide search is conducted to find a more permanent replacement.

“This appointment will continue our work to make Los Angeles safer. I look forward to working with Interim Chief Choi in the coming months as he provides steady and stable leadership for our police department,” said Mayor Bass. “Interim Chief Choi’s more than 28 years of service to this City as a member of the police department put him in a unique position to not only lead, but to grow and improve our department. I want to thank Interim Chief Choi for his willingness to accept this appointment as we work to make our city safer for all.”

Reacting to the news, LA City Councilmember John Lee wrote on social media: “Congratulations to my good friend Dominic Choi on being named the Interim Chief of @lapdhq!”

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore, Assistant LAPD Chief Dominic Choi & Los Angeles Councilmember John Lee.
(Photo Credit: Office of Councilmember Lee)

The son of Korean immigrants, Choi began his LAPD career in 1995 after earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California, KABC 7 News reported.

He worked patrol assignments in different divisions, rising through the ranks to detective, sergeant, and lieutenant. In 2014, he was promoted to captain, serving in both Foothill and Pacific areas. In 2017, he was promoted to Commander of Operations Central Bureau and later became the Department’s Homeless Coordinator. He remained in that position until he was promoted to Deputy Chief in 2019.

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Chief Moore has been LA’s top cop since June 4, 2018 after then Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti appointed him to the post which was ratified by the Los Angeles City Council on June 27, 2018. Moore is a veteran law enforcement official having joined the LAPD in 1981.

The Chief during his career in the LAPD, has received numerous commendations and awards for his police service including the department’s Medal of Valor, the Police Medal, the Police Star, and the Police Meritorious Service Medal.

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Mayor Bass & officials warn Angelenos to prep for Sunday’s storm

The Mayor and officials are cautioning residents to stay at home and to be careful as the second storm approaches

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Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley held a press conference Friday afternoon at the LAFD's Station 29 in Hancock Park. (Screenshot KNBC Live)

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley held a press conference Friday afternoon at the LAFD’s Station 29 in Hancock Park as the second of two major storms caused by another atmospheric river approaches.

The Mayor and officials are cautioning residents to stay at home and to be careful as the second storm approaches.

The storm is slated to bring cooler temperatures with heavy rain totals with a likelihood of thunderstorms and localized flooding. This storm is expected to bring three to six inches of rain in Southern California’s coastal areas and valleys. The foothills and mountains could see up to 12 inches Saturday night into Tuesday.

The National Weather Service says Metro L.A. will see the most significant downpour from Sunday night into Monday.

On Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California has mobilized more than 8,300 boots on the ground ahead of the next set of winter storms anticipated to bring serious impacts to much of the state this weekend and into early next week.

In addition to increased personnel, California has activated its State Operations Center, Flood Operations Center, Caltrans Emergency Operations Center and the Medical Health Coordination Center – all coordinating a unified response with our local and federal partners.

Supporting recovery efforts from storms in January and late December, Governor Newsom today also proclaimed a state of emergency in Humboldt, Imperial, Monterey, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, which join two counties the Governor proclaimed a state of emergency for last week due to storm impacts.

THE FORECAST: According to the National Weather Service, an atmospheric river will move into California starting early morning on Sunday and will continue through Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. 

  • Rain: Heavy rainfall is possible nearly statewide, but the most likely focus will be on coastal central to southern California. Significant flooding is becoming increasingly likely, including the potential for flooding on roadways, creek and main stem river flooding, mud/rockslides, and debris flows. 
  • Snow: Additional heavy mountain snowfall is expected across virtually the entire state, with snow levels on Sunday starting as low as 2,500-4,500 feet across northern California and 5,000-6,000 feet in southern California. Multiple feet of new snow accumulation are likely in several mountain ranges, and extremely difficult mountain travel conditions are expected. 
  • Wind: Periods of strong, gusty winds will likely lead to outdoor property damage, tree damage, and power outages. 

According to the State Operations Center, Flood Operations Center, and Caltrans Emergency Operations Center:

California has mobilized: 

  • 8,300+ boots on the ground, including:
    • Cal OES, through the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, has deployed more than 550 local government firefighters and support staff, as well as 19 swift water rescue teams, 1 local government urban search and rescue team, in 19 counties.
    • More than 4,000 Caltrans personnel deployed throughout the state.
    • California Highway Patrol officers and other personnel are available in impacted regions and can activate limited emergency operations centers.
    • CAL FIRE has prepositioned 5 hoist-rescue helicopters, 2 swift water rescue teams, additional four-wheel drive engines, and 6 handcrews.
    • The California National Guard is ready to rapidly deploy if called upon. These resources include high-water vehicles, aviation search and rescue assets, military police, general transportation, and heavy engineering equipment units. 
    • 500 California Conservation Corps members available to support.
  • 1,200+ pieces of winter equipment from Eureka to El Centro – such as snow blowers, graders and sweepers – are available to remove snow and ice from the highways.
    • Caltrans has prepositioned water pumps in flood-prone areas, and is ensuring storm drains are clear of debris, checking portable backup generators, and stocking up on reflective signs in the event of power outages.
  • 7 million+ sandbags prepositioned 
  • Sheltering and food supplies for 37,000+ people, including cots, blankets, water and food.  
  • Other state efforts include:
    • The State Operations Center is activated, whole of state government expertise responding 24/7.
    • Community partner phone banking effort making thousands of calls to sign up Californians for local emergency alerts in the most at-risk counties. 
    • The Flood Operations Center is activated and coordinating flood planning and response. DWR Flood Fight Specialists are also on standby and are patrolling priority levees 24/7. The California Nevada River Forecast Center is in a 24-hour operation, producing updated forecasts every 6 hours throughout the duration of the event.
    • State Parks continues to actively monitor the storm’s impacts on state parks and making real-time decisions on closures as needed. As of this morning, California has fully closed 7 state parks and partially closed 6 and have staff on the ground to respond. The public is advised to stay out of the ocean during the storm. For the latest closure information, please visit parks.ca.gov/incidents.

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Mayor Karen Bass: LAPD Chief Michel Moore will retire in February

Mayor Bass did not name a successor but indicated there will be a nationwide search for the next LAPD chief

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In a press conference Friday, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced that LAPD Chief Michel Moore will retire in February. (Screenshot/YouTube FOX 11)

LOS ANGELES – In a press conference Friday, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced that Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore will retire at the end of February. An emotional at times Chief Moore told reporters he was proud of his career at the department.

“It’s been my distinct honor and privilege to have served for more than four decades on the finest police department in the world, and for the last five and a half years as chief, some six years ago, when the opportunity to seek the position of chief of police occurred,” said Moore.

Moore thanked his wife Cindy for her support throughout his career in law enforcement and then told reporters the opportunity to spend time with family factored into his decision to retire.

Moore has been LA’s top cop since June 4, 2018 after then Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti appointed him to the post which was ratified by the Los Angeles City Council on June 27, 2018.

Moore is a veteran law enforcement official having joined the LAPD in 1981. Rising through the ranks he was promoted to Captain and then took over command of the LAPD’s troubled Rampart Division after its former commanding officer Rafael Pérez, was arrested in a scandal in numerous crimes and corruption, notably the shooting and framing of notorious street gang leader Javier Ovando, in addition to the theft and resale of at least $800,000 of cocaine from LAPD evidence lockers.

After years of supervisorial assignments, Moore was promoted to First Assistant Chief and transferred to be the Director – Office of Operations, responsible for overseeing the department’s geographic bureaus and patrol divisions which provide uniformed and investigative services to the city.

The Chief during his career in the LAPD, has received numerous commendations and awards for his police service including the department’s Medal of Valor, the Police Medal, the Police Star, and the Police Meritorious Service Medal.

Mayor Bass did not name a successor but indicated there will be a nationwide search for the next LAPD chief, which Moore will play a continuing role as a consultant.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore to step down

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LAPD: San Fernando Valley possible hate crimes suspect arrested

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64-year-old Edelidio David Wallace was apprehended in the 21000 block of Victory Boulevard at 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon. (Screenshot/YouTube KTLA 5)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Police Department said that Topanga Area patrol officers have arrested the suspect in a series of acts of vandalism in the northwestern area of the San Fernando Valley over this past weekend.

64-year-old Edelidio David Wallace was apprehended in the 21000 block of Victory Boulevard at 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon. The LAPD’s Major Crimes Division, is seeking additional victims of a vandalism suspect in the Topanga area.

An LAPD spokesperson said that Wallace is the man seen in multiple surveillance videos throwing rocks and cement bricks to smash glass windows and doors at over five businesses.

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On January 6, 2024, at approximately 3:00 a.m., Topanga Area patrol officers responded to three vandalism incidents within three blocks of the 20900 block of Victory Boulevard. The suspect used rocks and cement bricks to smash glass windows and doors belonging to several closed businesses. The suspect fled from the location on foot.

On January 8, 2024, between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., the same suspect vandalized additional closed businesses on Vanowen Street, Topanga Canyon Boulevard, and Sherman Way, again throwing rocks and bricks. All the vandalism occurred within a two-mile radius. Major Crimes Division is investigating the vandalism series to determine if there is a hate crime nexus based on three businesses being Jewish-owned. The rocks recovered had “Glory” and “Pay Up” written on them.

Major Crimes Division is also investigating additional vandalisms that occurred on January 5th and January 7th in the same general area to determine if they are related.

Clothing Description:
January 6, 2024: Nike green sweatshirt, black pants, white Nike shoes
January 8, 2024: Nike burgundy sweatshirt, black pants, white Nike shoes

Investigators believe there are other victims who have yet to be identified. A photograph of the suspect is being released in hopes to identify and speak with additional persons who may have been victimized.

If you have been a victim or have information about this investigation, you are urged to contact Major Crimes Detectives Beard or Patin at 213-486-7280. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org. Lastly, tipsters may also download the “P-3 Tips” mobile application and select the LA Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.

Suspect arrested in connection with possible hate crime spree in Canoga Park 

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Los Angeles

At least 5 more potential hate crime acts in Canoga Park 

The LAPD noted that if you have any information about these criminal acts, you can remain anonymous by submitting a tip to Crime Stoppers

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Photo Credit: The Los Angeles Police Department

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed that at least 5 businesses in Canoga Park were vandalized early Monday morning in what an LAPD source said could be potential hate crimes. At least one of those businesses is Jewish-owned.

Officers from the LAPD’s Topanga Community Police Station responded to calls in the 21300 block of Vanowen Street and in the 6000 block of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. A tire store, paint stores, a sign shop, mattress store and an In-N-Out had their windows broken with rocks the LAPD said.

These criminal acts coming on the heels of the acts of vandalism against three Jewish-owned businesses this past week in neighboring Woodland Hills.

The LAPD confirmed that hate crime investigations are underway related to the Woodland Hills incidents, but would not confirm if the Monday morning attacks are believed to be connected.

The LAPD noted that if you have any information about these criminal acts, you can remain anonymous by submitting a tip to Crime Stoppers at www.lacrimestoppers.org, or call 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

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Hate crime investigation in vandalism of Jewish-owned businesses

The LAPD noted that if you have any information about these criminal acts, you can remain anonymous by submitting a tip to Crime Stoppers

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Surveillance video showing suspect throwing a brick through the front windows of a business in the 20900 block of Victory Boulevard. (Screenshot/YouTube KTLA 5)

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – The Los Angeles Police Department’s Topanga Division detectives are seeking the person or person’s responsible for the acts of vandalism against three Jewish-owned businesses this past week.

A spokesperson for the LAPD told local media that officers responded to a call of vandalism at a business in the 20900 block of Victory Boulevard just after 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. 

When they arrived, they found that a rock had been thrown at a business with a note written in Aramaic. Surveillance video captures a man walking up to the business before throwing a rock through the storefront. 

KTLA reported a Jewish-owned business two doors down on the same property was also vandalized, likely by the same suspect or suspects, one business owner believes.

“Apparently, only me and my neighbor who have a mezuzah outside got broken into,” one storeowner told KTLA. “So, we know it’s a hate crime, and oddly enough, when we came in, there was a rock that said ‘payback’ and ‘glory,’ and I don’t know what that means.” 

“Obviously, these guys are not happy with us being Jewish in the neighborhood,” he added.

The owners of the vandalized businesses told KTLA that another business – a dance studio – was vandalized on the same morning, and that another nearby Jewish-owned establishment had been vandalized two days prior. The owner of the dance studio confirmed that she is not Jewish.

The LAPD has not yet released a description of the suspect.

The LAPD noted that if you have any information about these criminal acts, you can remain anonymous by submitting a tip to Crime Stoppers at www.lacrimestoppers.org, or call 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

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Aids Healthcare Foundation acquires LA’s iconic Morrison Hotel

AHF announced that the project will convert the hotel into 111 units of low-income housing estimated to bring a cost of $107,000 per unit

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The ceremony celebrating AHF’s acquisition of the historic Morrison Hotel, a 1914 era building in downtown Los Angeles was held on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. (Photo courtesy of LA-based singer-songwriter, musician & producer Fernando Perdomo)

LOS ANGELES – In a media conference Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) announced that it had acquired the historic Morrison Hotel from LA-based Relevant Group real estate and hospitality development company earlier this month.

Reporting by The Real Deal magazine’s LA bureau, disclosed that the sale price was $12.4 million, according to a deed filed with L.A. County. The magazine also reported Relevant and the nonprofit also signed a “development cooperation agreement” to jointly build a residential, hotel or commercial project, records show. The agreement was a condition of the sale. 

AHF announced that the project, with its plans to convert the building into 111 units of low-income housing is estimated to bring a cost of $107,000 per unit.

Constructed in 1914, the 109-year-old single-room occupancy hotel garnered fame in 1970 when it was featured on the cover of the Doors’ fifth studio album, “Morrison Hotel.” 

Alongside AHF and other dignitaries in attendance at the event Tuesday were famed photographer Henry Diltz, Fernando Perdomo, an LA based singer-songwriter, musician and producer, who was backing David Reeves and one of the surviving Doors band members, drummer John Densmore, 79.

“The people who work in the city can’t afford to live in the city, so the Morrison Hotel is now going to be a solution to that problem,” Densmore said.

Diltz, who shot the famed picture of The Doors for the album cover noted, band members snuck in while the clerk was busy and he quickly shot a series of photos under the “Morrison Hotel” lettering, with singer Jim Morrison front and center in the window.

The 1970 album is highly regarded in rock history, as it reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200, and performed better overseas than the preceding album. It featured classics such as “Roadhouse Blues” and “Peace Frog.”

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The Hollywood sign is officially a century old

Originally intended to last just a year and a half, the Sign has endured more than eight decades – and is still going strong

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A survey crew laying out the upscale residential real estate development neighborhoods circa 1924 a few months after the erection of the now globally recognized billboard sign. (Photo Credit: The Los Angeles Public Library system archives/photographs collection)

LOS ANGELES – The iconic symbol marking Los Angeles as the entertainment capital of the world marked its 100th birthday on Friday, Dec. 8. Universally recognized across the globe, the sign began its sojourn as a literal billboard sign to advertise an upscale residential real estate development. The sign was first illuminated on Dec. 8, 1923, originally saying “Hollywoodland.”

According to the sign’s official preservation website:

Hollywood, which by now represented not just a city, but also an industry, a lifestyle and, increasingly, an aspiration, was officially crowned when the “Hollywoodland” sign was erected in 1923. Built by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler as an epic $21,000 billboard for his upscale Hollywoodland real estate development, the Sign soon took on the role of giant marquee for a city that was constantly announcing its own gala premiere.

Dates and debates swirl about when the Hollywoodland Real Estate development – and the massive electric sign that advertised it – actually came into being. But a review of local newspapers from the era (i.e., The Los Angeles Times, Holly Leaves, Los Angeles Record, Los Angeles Examiner and the Hollywood Daily Citizen) clears up any confusion. For instance, a Hollywoodland ad in the Los Angeles Times (June 10, 1923) states that the real estate development launched in late March of that year and that by June, 200 men were employed, 7 miles of road had been cut and 300,000 cubic yards of dirt had been moved.

And while some sources still cite that the Sign was born in 1924, the correct date is indisputably 1923. The earliest found mention of the Sign appeared on December 14, 1923 in a Holly Leaves article about the Mulholland Highway soon to be built, which would extend from “…from the western end of the (Griffith Park) road, under the electric sign of Hollywoodland, around Lake Hollywood and across the dam.”

Just two weeks later another Los Angeles Times article (December 30, 1923) with the headline “Hollywood Electric Sign Reached by Car,” reported on actor Harry Neville’s epic, experimental trip to test whether a motorcar could reach the Sign on the unpaved grade, and whether the car’s brakes would work on the precipitous path down. According to the article, “A motley crowd of hillclimbers, workmen, salesmen and curiosity thrill-seekers …stood by with fear and trembling as the loose dirt began to give way but Neville stuck by the ship…” to make it safely back to the “wide smooth roads of Hollywoodland.”

Photo Credit: The City of Los Angeles

There has also been debate about whether the Sign was originally erected without lights (with the thousands of bulbs added later). However, historic photos from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph collection, taken just as the Sign was being erected, show workers carrying parts of the Sign that include the original lights in frames or “troughs.” Bruce Torrence, curator of the photo collection, notes that the shape of the light boxes indicate that these sections were probably part of the letter “A” and possibly the “L.”

Confusion solved: by the end of 1923, the Hollywood Sign was fully erected, a high-profile beacon – lights ablaze – for the fast-growing Los Angeles metropolis.

The “billboard” was massive. Each of the original 13 letters was 30 feet wide and approximately 43 feet tall, constructed of 3×9′ metal squares rigged together by an intricate frame of scaffolding, pipes, wires and telephone poles.

All of this material had to be dragged up precipitous Mt. Lee by laborers on simple dirt paths.

Few know that a giant white dot (35 feet in diameter, with 20-watt lights on the perimeter) was constructed below the Sign to catch the eye. The Sign itself featured 4,000 20-watt bulbs, spaced 8 inches apart.

At night the Sign blinked into the Hollywood night: first “Holly” then “wood” and finally “land,” punctuated by a giant period. The effect was truly spectacular, particularly for pre-Vegas sensibilities.

Originally intended to last just a year and a half, the Sign has endured more than eight decades – and is still going strong.

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