Alternate MLK events in LA area

LOS ANGELES (CNS)Los Angeles' premier annual event to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day the Kingdom Day Parade in South L.A. has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still a number of MLK-related events set for Monday holiday.

Here are some of them:

– at 9 a.m., the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE-CA) Kingdom Day Parade Committee will sponsor a free in-car COVID-19 rapid-testing event in lieu of hosting the annual parade, which has been canceled for a second straight year. The committee has 500 rapid tests, and cars can line up on West 43rd Street off Degnan Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

– at 9 a.m., the First AME Church of Los Angeles will host "The Hope Clinic," a special vaccine event to commemorate MLK Day and provide people an opportunity to receive doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses. The church is located at 2270 S. Harvard Blvd.

– at 10 a.m., Big Sunday will host its 10th annual MLK Day "New Clothing Collection and Com- munity Breakfast." The Hollywood-area block party will feature the collection, assembly and don- ation of 2,022 new cold-weather clothing kits. It takes place at 6111 Melrose Ave.

– at 10 a.m., the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice and other groups will host an MLK Day "Caravan for Social Justice," to "reflect the true spirit of Dr. King." The gathering begins at 10 a.m., and the caravan starts at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Western Avenue and MLK Boulevard.

– at 10:30 a.m., LAUSD second-grader Isabella Blue, the Unite L.A. Foundation and other groups will host a Martin Luther King Jr. "Unity Skate and Walk'' event, featuring music, give- aways, a birthday cake, walk-up COVID-19 vaccines and testing and more. It takes place at Metro Rosa Parks Station, 11611 Willowbrook Ave.

– at 11 a.m., Community Organized Relief Effort and the Sutro Avenue-Southeast Leimert Block Club will host a COVID-19 vaccination and testing pop-up event. It takes place at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

– at 11 a.m., the California African American Museum will commemorate King with a series of virtual events, including a King family story time with the Los Angeles Public Library, a King speech study group and a performance by members of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. RSVP at

– at 7 p.m., the city of Carson will present its annual tribute to King with an evening celebration featuring songs, dance and inspirational words. The event will be livestreamed at


City News Service.

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Covid Relief

Black cop settles suit with City

LOS ANGELES (CNS)A Black Los Angeles police officer who works in the department's Media Relations division has reached a settlement with the city of the lawsuit he filed alleging the divi- sion's director referred to him and a Black colleague as ``boys'' in 2017 and that he suffered a backlash when he complained.

Lawyers for plaintiff Officer Raymond Brown and the city told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Theresa M. Traber during a post-mediation status conference on Wednesday that the whistle- blower suit was resolved. No terms were divulged and it was not immediately clear if the settle- ment needs City Council approval.

Brown sued in May 2020, alleging he was denied promotions for protesting about discrimination and harassment and because management believed he would testify in support of a supervisor who is also suing the city. Josh Rubenstein, who was not a named defendant but whose alleged actions are outlined in Brown's court papers, previously declined to comment on the suit.

Brown was hired by the LAPD in 2005 and since 2015 has been assigned to the online unit in the Media Relations division, according to his complaint. He alleges that in late 2017, Rubenstein
who as commanding officer of the LAPD's Public Communications Group oversees the sworn and civilian staff of the Media Relations Divisionasked Brown and another Black officer, "How are you boys?," and repeated the greeting to the pair within a week.

The term "boy" has historically been used to degrade and dehumanize Black men, so the two officers asked Rubenstein not to address them that way again, according to the suit, which alleges Rubenstein "dismissively" responded that he would be mindful of their request, then left "visibly angry."

Days later, Rubenstein addressed Brown and the other Black officer as "boys" yet again, but this time in "a snide and mocking tone of voice," the suit alleges. Within a week, Rubenstein made the remark for a fourth time and was overheard by Capt. Patricia Sandoval, who apologized to Brown and the other Black officer and told them that she informed Rubenstein it was "not cool" to address them in such a manner, the suit alleged.

Sandoval also previously declined comment on the suit, which alleged that both she and Rub- enstein subsequently became "cold and dismissive" toward the two Black officers and that both made statements indicating they would not advance within the unit and should transfer.

In October 2018, Brown applied for two promotions within the unit, and although he was the most qualified for both jobs, Rubenstein and Sandoval picked other candidates, according to the plain- tiff's court papers. In April 2019, the supervisor for both Black officers, Sgt. Frank Preciado, sued the city for alleged race discrimination, race harassment and retaliation. Preciado alleged he experienced retaliation after he complained about being banned from speaking Spanish. A final status conference in Preciado's suit is scheduled June 3.

Brown and the other Black officer both complained to Preciado about allegedly being [referred to] by Rubenstein as "boys" and the sergeant in turn told Sandoval, Brown's suit alleges. Brown, who was again denied a promotion in July 2019, believes he did not get the job because management in Media Relations believed he would testify on behalf of Preciado in the sergeant's lawsuit, according to his lawsuit.

Brown has lost income, overtime, pension and other privileges and benefits, as well as suffered damage to his reputation and to his ability to obtain promotions due to the LAPD's alleged retal- iation, according to the suit.

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2021 worst year for LA bloodletting in 15 years

LOS ANGELES (CNS)—A total of 395 homicides were committed in Los Angeles last year, making it the deadliest year since 2007, according to data released by a nonprofit news organization, Jan. 11.

According to Crosstown at USC, a nonprofit news organization based at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, the unusually high death toll was fueled by the last four months of the year, during which 122 people were killed.

There were only two other quarters in the last decade when the homicide rate exceeded 100, both of which occurred after the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to Crosstown.

The bloodiest month of the year was July, with 48 homicides, the highest total seen since at least 2010, according to Crosstown's preliminary analysis.

The news agency pointed out that all totals are subject to revision depending on changes in the data provided by the Los Angeles Police Department. The totals reflect crimes reported to the LAPD.

The number of homicides committed in 2021 represents a 12.5 percent increase over 2020 and a 53.1 percent jump in killings relative to the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

The report noted that LAPD Chief Michel Moore has pointed to a rise in gun violence as the reason for the increase. Reports of shots fired in 2021 were up more than 58 percent over 2019 levels and gun-related arrests was up 300 percent over the same time period, according to Crosstown.

A firearm was the weapon used in nearly three-quarters of the homicides.

In terms of geography, downtown Los Angeles had the most homicides for the fifth year in a row, with 29 killings in that community. Watts recorded 23 homicides, while Boyle Heights, Florence and Green Meadows reported 14 homicides each during 2021.

The vast majority of the victims, 86 percent, were men and they were disproportionately Black, according to Crosstown.

More than 35 percent of those killed were Black, roughly 52 percent were Hispanic and about 7 percent were White, according to LAPD data. Black, Latino, and White residents make up roughly 9 percent, 49 percent and 52 percent of the city's residents, respectively, based on US census estimates for 2021.


City News Service.

Grants available to stem mayhem

COMPTON (MNS)—Grant proposals to apply for violence reduction funds through the California Vio- lence Intervention and Prevention Program (CalVIP) are now being accepted by the Bureau of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) which is managing the process.

In 2021, California lawmakers approved a total of total of $209 million for competitive three-year grants to cities disproportionately impacted by violence to improve safety and promote healing. Fifty-three cities are eligible to apply, far more than ever before.

"Community-based solutions to violence are working all over California, but they are under- funded," said Mona Cadena, director of Advocacy and Campaigns  for Equal Justice USA, which is part of a coalition of 34 organizations working to end violence in the state. "This is an enor- mous opportunity for cities and communities throughout California to magnify the lifesaving work that is already happening and to create safer neighborhoods."

The eligible cities can apply for up to $6 million to help fund groundbreaking violence reduction programs that are proven to save lives and make communities safer. Proposals are due Feb. 11, with the grant period beginning July 1.

"Because the timeline to apply is so brief, it is critical that community-based organizations and cities engaging in violence prevention and intervention that are eligible for this funding are aware of the opportunity as soon as possible," Cadena said.

People with questions about the requests for proposals or the process are encouraged to email

Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) is a national organization that works to transform the justice system by ending the death penalty, strengthening programs that help crime survivors rebuild their lives, and promoting trauma-informed responses to violence that save lives and heal communities.

Metropolis News Service.