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Cases jeopardized by racist & homophobic comments by Torrance police

They joked about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying

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Photo Credit: City of Torrance, California, Police Department

TORRANCE, Ca. – Years of text messages that contained extremely offensive descriptions of Black and Jewish people or members of the LGBTQ+ community by more than a dozen Torrance police officers resulted in the dismissal of criminal cases The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

According to the Times, while no officers face criminal charges in direct relation to the text messages, the racist exchanges have led to the dismissal of at least 85 criminal cases involving the officers implicated in the scandal.

The text messages were first discovered during an investigation into two former Torrance officers, who were charged with allegedly spray-painting a swastika into a car in January 2020.

Former Torrance officers Cody Weldin and Christopher Tomsic, were charged by the LA County District Attorney’s office with conspiracy and vandalism after allegedly spray-painting a swastika and a “happy face” into the car after responding to a call.

The Los Angeles Times noted that while looking into the vandalism allegations, the office of LA County district attorney George Gаscón began requesting texts sent by the officers, which led to the discovery of racist and homophobic messages from other police officers.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said his office will investigate the Torrance Police Department in the wake of a scandal that revealed more than a dozen police officers had exchanged racist text messages for years the Times reported.

Los Angeles Times Crimes & Court reporter James Queally wrote in a tweet; “For years, more than a dozen Torrance cops exchanged racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic texts and images. Today, I can identify most of the officers and reveal some of their hateful conversations.”

According to Queally’s reporting, in the span of one week in November, the Los Angeles County public defender’s office received approximately 300 letters from prosecutors disclosing potential misconduct by officers implicated in the scandal, according to a spokeswoman for the public defender’s office.

The broad scope of the racist text conversations, which prosecutors said went on for years, has created a crisis for the Torrance Police Department and could jeopardize hundreds of criminal cases in which the officers either testified or made arrests, the Times reported.

The officers’ comments spared no color or creed: They joked about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying during an investigation into a police shooting, according to district attorney’s office records reviewed by The Times.

In a statement on its website, the City of Torrance said: “The City of Torrance wants all members of the community alike to be reassured that the city does not condone any member under our employ that expresses or condones behaviour inconsistent with our mission to serve everyone in the community with respect and dignity. 

“We will not tolerate any form of bigotry, racism, hate, or misconduct. 

“An internal investigation is being conducted and the involved officers have been placed on administrative leave.”

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Los Angeles County

Inaugural LA County Youth Climate Commission seeks youth leaders

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for young people who are both passionate about climate change and interested in public service”

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (Press Release) – Aiming to empower the region’s next generation of environmental leaders, the County of Los Angeles today issued a call for young adults to serve on its inaugural Youth Climate Commission.

On the heels of major climate legislation at the federal level, the County is seeking 25 youth leaders who have a commitment to civic action that will create greater resilience in their communities.

The Board of Supervisors, responding to grass-roots activism from Los Angeles youth climate leaders, adopted an ordinance to create the Commission to inform, recommend, and advise on County goals, plans, actions, and policies related to climate change mitigation and resilience.

The panel – the first County Commission to focus exclusively on climate change – aims to amplify the perspectives and priorities of local youth, since they will be the most dramatically impacted by the ongoing climate impact during their lifetime.

“I am heartened that after years of insufficient action on climate, Congress is advancing a major climate bill that will change the game for lowering our emissions nationally,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis who represents the First District and authored the ordinance. “With new federal resources, the stakes are even greater for us to ensure that the very people whose future is most impacted are at the table to effect real change.”

“Despite another season of record-breaking heat and extreme weather, I remain hopeful in the next generation’s unwillingness to stand idle in the face of the climate crisis. The Youth Climate Commission provides an important structural pathway for new and diverse leadership to advance equitable and bold climate solutions for the Los Angeles region” said Supervisor Holly Mitchell who represents the Second District.

“Young people all across Los Angeles County are an untapped source of energy and ideas that can, and should, influence the County’s actions on climate change,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl who represents the Third District and was the co-author of the ordinance. “I encourage young people who have a commitment to reversing climate change, protecting biodiversity, and reimagining our relationship to our planet’s natural resources to consider participating on this exciting body that will help to shape LA County climate policy for years to come.”

“We are already seeing the effects of climate change, but many of my colleagues and I will be long gone when the worst impacts of the climate crisis take hold. Young people are leading a movement on this issue and they are proving better at it than the generations before who have failed them. They deserve a seat at the table in shaping our County’s climate policy and I encourage the young climate leaders across my district to apply to be a part of this commission”, said Supervisor Janice Hahn who represents the Fourth District.

“Our County is very big, so it’s important that we attract a diverse group of individuals so that we hear perspectives inclusive of different parts of our County, such as our high desert, foothill, and mountain communities,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the Fifth District. “Many of these communities face a higher likelihood of being impacted by natural disasters due to climate change, such as wildfires and flooding. I highly recommend anyone who is interested to come forward and apply to join this new County Commission. It’s a fantastic opportunity for young people who are both passionate about climate change and interested in public service.”

The findings of the County’s recent Climate Vulnerability Assessment, demonstrated that an estimated 56% of residents – nearly 5.7 million people — face high risk to such climate hazards as extreme heat, wildfire, inland flooding, extreme precipitation, coastal flooding, and drought. 

Low-income and communities of color face a disproportionate amount of climate vulnerability as well as limited capacity to withstand and weather future threats, the study found.

The commission’s recommendations will further the ongoing implementation of Our County Sustainability Plan, the most ambitious regional sustainability blueprint in the nation. Among its 159 action items is creating a fossil fuel-free L.A. County by 2050.

“We are committed to reflecting the diversity of our County in our new Youth Climate Commission. We invite young adults from marginalized communities, communities burdened by pollution, and beyond to co-create with us a future with healthy, sustainable communities by applying to serve as commissioners,” said Executive Officer Celia Zavala.

Application materials are available on the website and must be submitted by Sept. 15, 2022. Interested applicants must be age 18 by Oct. 1, 2022.

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Los Angeles County

2nd Recall effort against LA County District Attorney George Gascón fails 

The 520,050 valid petition signatures fell short of the 566,857 required to place the recall question on the ballot

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Screenshot/YouTube: LA DA George Gascón holding a press conference last Fall

LOS ANGELES – The second effort to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón was rejected Monday after the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office announced recall organizers had fallen short of the requisite validated signatures needed to qualify for the November elections ballot.

A spokesperson for Dean C. Logan, the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, said that recall organizers had submitted a total of 715,833 petition signatures, of which 195,783 of the signatures were invalid and another 45,000 were duplicate signatures. The remaining 520,050 valid petition signatures fell short of the 566,857 required to place the recall question on the ballot.

KTLA reported that organizers halted their first recall attempt last fall after they were unable to gather the necessary signatures by the end of October.

Gascón, 67, was elected in 2020 on a pledge to reform the county’s criminal justice system. Since he took office, juveniles are no longer being charged as adults, sentencing enhancements that he says lead to mass incarceration have been eliminated and cash bail for nonviolent felony offenses has ended. Misdemeanors associated with substance abuse and mental illness are also being diverted out of the criminal justice system, both KTLA and the Los Angeles Times have reported.

Gascón’s policies have provoked criticism from Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, as well as officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and others from the 88 jurisdictions within the County.

Recall organizers contend that his policies favor criminal defendants and have contributed to a significant rise in crime rates reported across the County.

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Los Angeles County

Project Angel Food’s Lead With Love 3 telethon pulls in a new record

The evening was a triumph, as the broadcast became the highest grossing night in the telethon’s three-year history

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Eric McCormack & Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (Photo by Philip Faraone/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

LOS ANGELES – The Saturday telethon hosted by KTLA 5 to benefit the Hollywood based charity Project Angel Food was a massive success according to its organizers pulling in $1,172,970.00 which exceeded the event’s sponsored by City National Bank goal by 17%.

KTLA 5 and Project Angel Food noted the evening was a triumph, as the broadcast became the highest grossing night in the telethon’s three-year history. Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub reflected, “With inflation and rising food insecurity among L.A.’s critically ill population, it is so encouraging to see Los Angeles step up to help us rise to the challenge.”

Project Angel Food feeds critically ill men, women, and children in Los Angeles County. The organization delivers Medically Tailored Meals, with care and compassion, directly to the client’s homes. More than 2,500 vulnerable Angelenos are fed daily, with over 1.2 million meals delivered each year.

Oprah Winfrey opened the show, Richard Gere made a rare television appearance, and Lori Loughlin made her first non-acting television appearance in more than three-and-a-half-years.  The night was filled with fan favorites, celebrity messages, an All-Star Phone Bank of celebrities taking donor calls, and musical performances.

Will & Grace star Eric McCormack and KTLA Morning News anchor Jessica Holmes returned to host the annual televised event and were joined by Loni Love and Alec Mapa who also returned as dynamic co-hosts. 

(L-R) Loni Love, Pauley Perrette, Alec Mapa, Eric McCormack, Jessica Holmes, Debbie Gibson, Mary-Margaret Humes, Michelle Visage, Gregory Zarian, Lawrence Zarian, Charo, and Melissa Peterman onstage during Project Angel Food’s Lead with Love 3 – a Fundraising Special on KTLA on July 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)”

Highlights included:

  • Lori Loughlin, who has volunteered with Project Angel Food since January 2021, appearing a “day in the life of a Project Angel Food volunteer” package in which she said of the organization, “It is a community, it is a family, and all the people that work here are so wonderful. They have welcomed me with such open arms at a time when I was feeling particularly down and broken. That’s how I found a home here, and that’s what I feel like they did for me, and that’s why I’m so proud to be here and working with this organization, because they really do care. It’s really a community.”
  • Oprah Winfrey’s stirring opening, kicking off the show with this message: “When we find a way to serve other people, we see how compassion and empathy can really make a lasting, positive impact by showing up for somebody else.”   
  • Richard Gere announcing a $75,000 matching grant from the Herb Ritts Foundation, saying, “Herb was one of my dearest, closest friends and when he passed away in 2002, from complications from HIV/AIDS, it was completely devastating for all of us. And he wanted his foundation to continue the work he had been doing helping people.”
  • A hysterical Will & Grace reunion in which Eric McCormack’s Will & Grace co-star Sean Hayes feigned audio issues and insulted McCormack’s gray hair and beard.
  • A Charlie’s Angels reunion with Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd.
  • Four “Mystery Guests” included Cybill Shepherd, who left McCormack flabbergasted with revealing she knew Elvis Presley, “in the Biblical way,” Charo, 13-time Grammy Award winner Chaka Kahn, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who discussed delivering meals with Project Angel Food.
  • The television debut of Debbie Gibson’s new song “Cheers” from her upcoming Christmas album which closed the show, and Taylor Dayne’s live performance of “I’ll Be Your Shelter.”
  • Loni Love “flipping her wig” when Rock ‘N Roll legend Stevie Nicks called in a surprise $25,000 donation.
  • Presenting sponsor City National Bank’s Linda Duncombe, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing, Digital and Product Officer, delivering a $100,000 check to McCormack, Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub, and Holmes.
  • Pauley Perrette, who was on hand to introduce a musical performance, bringing with her a $9,000 donation.

Executive produced by television veteran, Brad Bessey, along with Michael Levitt, Ayoub, KTLA’s Marcus Smith and Jacob Burch, and Mark McBride, sponsorships, the live two-hour fundraising special was jam-packed with surprises, energy and fun. Bessey says, “Over dinner with Eric several months ago, he mentioned in passing he would love our show to have more of a ‘variety feel’ this year, so we ran with it. I think we delivered with humor and heart.” 

The All-Star Phone Bank, emceed by Mapa, created the most unpredictable and entertaining segments of the night with Melissa Peterman, Michelle Visage, Kim Coles, Jai Rodriguez, Beth Hall, Mary-Margaret Humes, Lawrence Zarian, and Gregory Zarian talking to donors throughout the night and creating comedy chaos along the way.

In addition to Dayne and Gibson’s live performances, musical highlights included Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo performing “We Belong,” Sarah McLachlan performing, “I Will Remember You,” Five for Fighting performing, “World,” and Josh Groban performing, “Angels.”

Celebrity messages flooded in from supporters Bryce Dallas Howard, Sharon Stone, Whoopi Goldberg, Eugene Levy, Gloria Estefan, Karamo, Holland Taylor, Henry Winkler, Fran Drescher, Tyler Henry, Danny Pino, Cheryl Burke, Rachel Lindsay, Ross Mathews, and Jonathan Del Arco.

Donations are still being accepted for LEAD WITH LOVE 3, at angelfood.org/love.

To learn more about Project Angel Food, please visit www.angelfood.org.

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