Judge orders classes back at South LA’s Jefferson High

By Taylor Haney

Jefferson High School

Jefferson High School

LAUSD officials met with staff at Jefferson High School Thursday to talk about incomplete course schedules. A lack of resources has been keeping many students out of their required classes — or any classes at all. Yesterday, a Calif. Superior Court judge ordered the state to fix scheduling problems at the South L.A. high school.

One student told Annenberg Radio News that his schedule “wasn’t right” for him. For others, classes they needed just didn’t exist.

Click play to hear their comments: 


The ACLU of Southern California had lodged a complaint in May naming a few specific schools and detailing their problems. Here’s how they map out.

See also: #TBT South LA: Jeffferson High School, 1938

USC student tells of racial profiling in South LA

Tobi Oduguwa looks out onto the street where he said he experienced racial profiling in the area near USC. | Lensa Bogale

Tobi Oduguwa looks out onto the street where he said he experienced racial profiling in the area near USC. | Lensa Bogale

Tobi Oduguwa is a University of Southern California junior double-majoring in computer science and physics. But as a black man two inches over six-feet-tall, he gets asked what position he plays on basketball team more often than his major. The question comes up so often that he has given himself his own, unofficial basketball number.

“If you hear about a point-guard named number six, that’s actually me,” said Oduguwa.

But the assumptions aren’t always so harmless.

Oduguwa learned the hard way when officers from the USC Department of Public Safety stopped him one night outside of his apartment and, without explanation, asked to see his ID.

After being question, Oduguwa realized that he was suspected of choking a young woman in the building across from his own. It wasn’t until a friend vouched for Oduguwa that he was finally released. [Read more…]

South LA town hall focuses on excessive force in Sheriff’s Department

Audience listens to ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg, who detailed accounts of use of excessive force in L.A. county jails.

About 40 people showed up at a South LA town hall meeting on Thursday night to discuss the use of excessive force within Los Angeles Sheriff Department. The purpose of the event, held at the Imperial Church of Christ and organized by the Citizen Advisory Board (CAB), was also to introduce the community to a new task force made up of the department’s top brass currently dedicated to addressing the issue.

The first speaker of the evening, civil rights attorney Bradley C. Gaged, who described several cases of excessive force and abuse by law enforcement, questioned the efficacy of the unit.

“I don’t see how a task force can be of any use, because top management already knows about it,” said Gaged, referring to complaints against officers for excessive force. “The code of silence among officers is still strong…. There needs to be a strengthening of whistleblower laws.”

He also pointed out that among his biggest concerns was the fact that the majority of the cases of excessive force by law enforcement have involved African Americans victims.

Assistant Sheriff Cecil W. Rhambo, Jr. addresses the crowd as CAB chair, Dr. Sandra Moore, listens.

Attorney Michael Gennaco, from the Office of Independent Review, was quick to acknowledge that there have been many problems in the handling of inmates by Sheriff’s deputies and that conditions in the jails have been deplorable. But he said that thanks to external advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), many needed reforms have been implemented, such as reducing the number of inmates per cell from six to four and seeking to improve access to medical care within a facility.

Gennaco also said that every year, the Sheriff’s department fires half a dozen deputies for use of excessive force in jails.

That may not be enough, if you listen to the account of ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg, who worked on a 2011 report detailing abuses in L.A. County jails. “Civilian eyewitnesses told us they weren’t afraid of the inmates, but of the deputies.”

Assistant Sheriff Cecil W. Rhambo, Jr. defended his department saying: “We don’t supervise perfect people. We’re aware there are problems out there, but we’ve implemented a lot of measures to improve [our department], including town halls like this one.

Nine people from the Sheriff’s department were in attendance, including a cameraman, who recorded the meeting.

Cynthia Salomon wants to know how long it takes for an independent review process to be completed.

The audience was given the opportunity to ask questions after the speakers finished their presentations. Among the concerns: race as a factor in the use of excessive force by law enforcement.

“If I ever had a problem, I’d be scared to call for help,” says Cynthia Salomon, an African American special education teacher’s assistant. Salomon went to the town hall to get some answers about the process of independent review of cases in which excessive force was used. She says both her children were arrested in March of 2011 during a street altercation, after which two LAPD detectives fired 17 shots, injuring her 21 year-old daughter in the leg. Both are currently in jail. “I’m worried for her. She has a lump on her breast and needs medical attention, but she still hasn’t been seen by a doctor.”

Salomon’s concern over access to medical care in jails was just one of many from the crowd – and an issue which the CAB is monitoring. Dr. Sandra Moore, Chair of CAB, a faith-based community advocate group, will soon be releasing its report of the Women’s Facility in Lynwood and make recommendations on how to effectively change the current prison culture that contributes to deputy misconduct, abuses and negligence.

South Los Angeles citizens pledge support for Sheriff Lee Baca

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

imageSome Los Angelenos are beginning to speak out in support of Sheriff Lee Baca. The sheriff is facing criticism after the ACLU recently revealed that they’re investigating widespread inmate abuse in LA county prisons under the supervision of Sheriff Lee Baca.

Baca responded last week by meeting with inmates, collecting their concerns and beginning an internal investigation to look into their allegations.

But Peter Eliasberg of the Southern California ACLU says Baca’s latest investigation is nothing but a “PR effort” to cover up years of verbal harassment, beatings and tazings.

“All of these things add up to not only a pattern of abuse but also a pattern of investigation that even Inspector Clusoe wouldn’t do, they were so poorly done – and designed not to get at the truth.”

On the contrary, Baca says he hasn’t looked into deputies on this scale because, for years, he simply didn’t know about physical abuse or unsanitary living conditions. He didn’t even know how badly inmates needed soap or extra blankets.

“I’m willing to learn the lessons. I’m willing to engage my department’s deputies so that they can learn the lessons. And the lessons aren’t learned just by training and policy and supervision.”

If Baca is trying to preserve political support, he’s popular in South Los Angeles, promised Dr. Sandra Moore. She chairs both Concerned Citizens for Fair Policing and the Citizens Advisory Board in South LA and hosted a press conference in Watts today.

“I just want the community to know, he’s not resigning. we won’t allow it. he’s not going anywhere. But we’re gonna work with him side by side. The ACLU can have the same opportunity.”

The ACLU has demanded Baca’s resignation, but this panel of about a dozen neighborhood organizations pledged unflinching support for the Sheriff.