Claim filed in shooting of South LA teen

Jamar Nicholson, a South LA teen mistakenly shot by police, speaks at a news conference on Wednesday.

Jamar Nicholson, a South LA teen mistakenly shot by police, speaks at a news conference on Wednesday.

A $20 million claim was filed Wednesday against the City of Los Angeles in the shooting of 15-year-old Jamar Nicholson, who was mistakenly shot by police.  Nicholson was shot in the back on the morning of Feb. 10 near Crenshaw Boulevard and Florence Avenue when one of his friends was seen carrying a replica handgun that police officers thought was real.

Watch this video from Annenberg TV News of Nicholson speaking out about the shooting:

Attorney John Harris, who represents Nicholson and another teenager who was in a group of four that day, said at a news conference Wednesday that the officers “displayed callous disregard.”

LAPD officials did not comment on the claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit.

Reward offered in South LA murder

By Diana Lee, Staff Reporter

Moses NelsonThe Los Angeles Police Department is offering $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in the murder of Moses Nelson. The 32-year-old father of three was shot dead on the morning of November 23, 2014  while walking down East 57th Street near Naomi Avenue in South LA. Police say a man riding a bicycle came toward Nelson and shot him several times.

Witnesses have come forward, but no one has been able to identify the suspect as the surveillance video did not capture his face, according to LAPD Detective Leonardo McKenzie. The video only showed the suspect’s clothing and the model of his bicycle. [Read more…]

Seeking bonds between South LA and LAPD

By Arielle Samuelson 

Rep. Karen Bass meet with Angelenos in South L.A. after asking for suggestions to improve police-community relations. |  Arielle Samuelson/Neon Tommy

Rep. Karen Bass meet with Angelenos in South L.A. after asking for suggestions to improve police-community relations. | Arielle Samuelson/Neon Tommy

Congresswoman Karen Bass, from California’s 37th District, flew from Capitol Hill to Ferguson, Mo. to a South Los Angeles church last Saturday to gather a flock of concerned citizens in a town hall meeting to discuss new policing reforms for better relations between community members and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Two lines stretched down both sides of the church and Bass was kept an hour over schedule in order to hear every person who wanted to offer suggestions to improve police department behavior in the community. [Read more…]

Cecil Murray, South LA’s civic leader and spiritual guide

The respected pastor who helped put out fires of the 1992 riots now fosters religious dialogue at USC.

Cecil Murray

Cecil Murray gets settled in his USC office. | Jordyn Holman

Since late November, residents from South Los Angeles have been peacefully protesting courthouse decisions to not indict police officers in Missouri and New York who killed two young unarmed Black men in the line of duty.

For Rev. Dr. Cecil Murray, the former pastor of South L.A.’s First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the demonstrations in memory of Michael Brown and Eric Garner bring to mind L.A. protests of days gone by in that they aimed to shed light on the disconnect between police officers and the people they serve.

[Read more…]

Ezell Ford shot three times at close range in South LA

Ferguson protesters reach the site where Ezell Ford was killed last August. | Daina Beth Solomon

Ferguson protesters reach the site where Ezell Ford was killed last August. | Daina Beth Solomon

An unarmed, 25-year-old Black man killed by police last summer in South L.A. was shot three times at close range, according to an autopsy report released today.

Ezell Ford was hit on his right side, back and right arm, according to the medical examiner. The doctor wrote in the report that a muzzle imprint on Ford’s back suggested close contact with officers, which correspondents with their version of events.

Ford was walking home on West 65th Street near Broadway on Aug. 11 when two Los Angeles Police Department officers approached him, according to a police statement. [Read more…]

Ferguson protest marches through South LA

Ferguson protesters reach the site where Ezell Ford was killed last August. | Daina Beth Solomon

Ferguson protesters reach the site where Ezell Ford was killed last August. | Daina Beth Solomon

Protests continued to unfold around the country on Monday, a week after the Grand Jury in Ferguson decided not to indict the officer who killed Michael Brown last summer.

In Los Angeles, the action was in South L.A., where a group of 30 clustered at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Division waving signs that declared, “Ferguson is everywhere.”

Then some protestors took to a bullhorn to tell stories of just how the events of Ferguson are linked to their own lives in Los Angeles – particularly the cases of Ezell Ford and Omar Abrego, both killed by officers from Newton Division last August. [Read more…]

LAPD seeks witnesses to Ezell Ford shooting

By Ashley Yang and Celeste Alvarez

LAPD press conference on Ezell Ford investigation. | LAPD Twitter

LAPD press conference on Ezell Ford investigation. | LAPD Twitter

Los Angeles city officials and law enforcement officers reinforced their plea Thursday for witnesses to come forward with more information about the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Ezell Ford, a mentally ill African-American man, by two Los Angeles Police Department officers more than three months ago.

“We are here today united in the search for truth,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters at a news conference. “The community, the poor family, our police officers and the city deserve nothing less.”

The LAPD expressed need for the community’s assistance in forming a clear account of the circumstances surrounding Ford’s death. Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said her office will also be accepting witness statements if the public does not feel comfortable reaching out to the LAPD. [Read more…]

Residents speak out at neighborhood council

the South LA constituent service center | Southwest Neighborhood Council

Residents bring concerns to monthly meetings at the South L.A. constituent service center | Southwest Neighborhood Council Facebook

Imagine 212 apartments and one overflowing trash chute. Imagine filthy carpets and beds crawling with bugs. Imagine walking into your laundry room to find homeless people sleeping in piles of dirty clothes.

Now imagine senior citizens living day-to-day in these conditions with no sign of imminent relief. The residents of this senior citizen apartment complex in South L.A. are retired and relying on fixed incomes from the government.

Regardless of its inhabitants, though, the depictions of the complex expressed at a Neighborhood Development Council Meeting for the southwest area in late October sounded almost inhumane.

Chairwoman Leonella Enix began the meeting, held at a local community center, with this pressing issue. Residents of the southwest region eagerly chimed in and pleaded for solutions. (The neighborhood development council’s jurisdiction roughly spans the neighborhoods of Vermont Knolls, Manchester Square and Gramercy Park.)

On top of the aforementioned issues with the senior citizen complex, rent recently increased. Enix said that one resident’s rent is now $27 per month more than the monthly stipend she receives from the federal government to cover housing. She walks around the neighborhood trying to find ways to come by the extra money every month, according to Enix.

Furthermore, the property management team does not speak English, only Spanish, so residents’ complaints frequently go unresolved. The majority of the residents are English-speaking African Americans.

The chairwoman went on to emphasize that the Development Council must figure out ways to help the senior citizens to help themselves. Residents want to convene to discuss possible improvement plans, but there is a $100 fee to use the community room at the complex. Sean Fleming, a representative for U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), at the meeting said Waters’s office would request the money to cover a preliminary meeting. Regardless of the outcome of this re-quest, the council plans to raise funds to cover residents’ meeting fees.

Enix said that South Los Angeles needs to find ways to advocate for more resources in general. The conversation then transitioned from senior citizens’ living conditions to concerns about gang activity in the L.A. Police Department’s Southwest Division.

Middle-aged men and women and senior citizens stood up and shouted at the chair, noting that their fear of gang violence increased on the weekends, when much of South L.A.’s police forces are sent to cover the University of Southern California for game days.

These community members took turns trying to convey to the council that they felt “forgotten.” Enix said that the Los Angeles Police Department was currently working on new strategies to combat gangs in the area, but that attempts during the last two weekends had failed.

LAPD officers left the neighborhoods around 9:30 p.m., according to Enix. Residents told her that gangs “waited them out,” and simply struck later in the night.

A cracked sidewalk in Los Angeles | waltarrrrr/Flickr

A cracked sidewalk in Los Angeles | waltarrrrr/Flickr

The last concern discussed at the late October meeting was the condition of the neighborhood’s sidewalks. Margaret Peters, the council’s treasurer, said that she has been a homeowner in the area for 26 years, and her sidewalks looked more “atrocious” than ever.

According to Peters, the city of Los Angeles is discussing options to help residents fix the sidewalks. One is the Fix and Release Program, in which the city would repair the sidewalks once, but any subsequent repairs will be the responsibility of the homeowner. Another is the 50/50 Program, in which half of the cost of a sidewalk repair would be covered by the city and the homeowner would cover the other half. Under both plans, part of the deal entails homeowners being liable for any injuries occurring on their section of sidewalk.

The resounding response in the room was an insistent plea for another resolution to the hazardous sidewalk situation. Community members indicated that trees planted by developers decades ago were the cause of the unsafe sidewalks, and they did not see themselves as liable for buck-ling walkways. Chiefly, they did not want to pay for something they believed was a matter for the public works department.

This meeting provided an opportunity to hear many aspects of local governance that residents of southwest L.A. want to change. They want better living conditions for senior citizens. They want increased protection from gangs. They want safer sidewalks. Above all, they want to stop feeling forgotten.

The Empowerment Congress Southwest Area Neighborhood Development Council meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of every month at the South Los Angeles Constituent Service Center.

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Update: An earlier version of this article said that the city is considering two programs to fix sidewalks. In fact, these are among various options still under discussion.

St. John’s treats South LA’s incoming young immigrants, Two high schoolers win essay contest + The history of the LAPD’s “militarization”


City Watch: St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in South L.A. helps care for many of the kids immigrating alone from Central America.

KCET: A conference last week addressed South L.A.’s environmental health challenges.

LA Weekly: The LAPD’s “militarization” has roots in South L.A.

LA Times: Two South L.A. high schoolers have won a Charles Dickens essay writing contest.

South LA police brutality vigil turns into protest

People gathered in Leimert Park to give a moment of silence and also vocalize their anger at police brutality | Alex Kanegawa

People gathered in Leimert Park to give a moment of silence and also vocalize their anger at police brutality | Alex Kanegawa

Initially designed as a peaceful vigil for victims of police brutality, the high-profile shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Ezell Ford in South L.A. turned Thursday’s National Moment of Silence into an outlet for anger.

Crowds swelled in Leimert Park to voice their frustrations, just days after a LAPD officer shot and killed Ford, 25, a little less than 5 miles away from the gathering. Like Brown, Ford was also unarmed.

A community activist known as Feminista Jones—whose real name is Michelle according to USA Today—was, like many, glued to the events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri. She took inspiration from a planned vigil in New York to create an event called National Moment of Silence, popularized through its hashtag, #NMOS14.

From Long Island to San Diego, the event was designed to be, according to the Los Angeles Facebook page, “not protests, not rallies, just peaceful gatherings of friends.”

The L.A. gathering was held in Leimert Park, an area significant to African-Americans in South Los Angeles. People from outside the greater L.A. region also came to show their support, such as Joanna Lopez from the Inland Empire. Lopez came out for her 4-year-old son who is half-black and half-Latino.

“I feel like if I don’t step up, no one will,” Lopez said. “He will soon be a young man, and I would like him to feel safe.”

At around 4:00 p.m., a large crowd comprised mostly of African-Americans gathered peacefully with a variety of signs that read, “We stand with Ferguson,” and “Black lives matter.”

The gathering was led by citizens such as Najee Ali and members affiliated with Revcom, who gave speeches on police injustice against people of color throughout the country. When the group called for a moment of silence for victims of police brutality, the crowd raised their hands—a nod to Brown who, according to witnesses, was shot with his hands in the air.

NMOS14 was meant to be a quiet vigil, but anger and impatience ran high in Leimert Park, especially after the recent death of Ezell Ford, who was shot by the LAPD on Aug. 11. After the moment of silence, speeches by Ali and Revcom members were met with cheers and calls to “stop just standing around.” Actress Jenifer Lewis, who grew up around Ferguson, took up a microphone and recounted that “she was one of those people.”

“I want you all to take to social media, write so many letters to the White House that they can’t get out the door,” Kuenta said as she stamped her foot. “We need to tell the authorities to stop shooting our children.”

This prompted the crowd to march down Leimert. LAPD officers were nearby, and a drone even flew above the demonstrators, but authorities kept their distance.

The vigil-tuned-protest caused some mixed feelings from Breanna Jordan, a teacher who came to honor one of her students who was shot, unarmed, by police last year.

“Protest is good, but eventually these things die down. I want to see how we can organize to actually make change,” Jordan said. “All this yelling, I understand why some people are upset, but at the end of the that that’s just going to start nothing.”

Others, such as Alphi Black, want to see more action taken in situations of transparent police brutality. Black is from St. Louis, Mo. and is temporarily living in Los Angeles. She came to Leimert Park because she wanted to give support even though she couldn’t be in St. Louis.

“I’m going to be honest, in Ferguson there’s a lot more than peaceful protest that’s needed. It’s ground zero—the anger and energy is higher there, the police are agitating the situation. I’m not saying violent protest is needed, but if they are meeting us with violence, then we deserve to retaliate.”

For many people in the crowd, angry emotions stemmed from personal connections—such as Lopez’s fear for her son and Lewis’s childhood around Ferguson. The gratitude expressed by Deric Lewis, Michael Brown’s cousin, served as a reminder that the gathering was of a united community. Lewis even gave thanks to the media, who were initially slow to cover events in Ferguson until national outlets arrived on Tuesday.

“I came to show my support along with these people,” he said. “So thank you for coming out here to let people know what’s going on.”

Beyond the anger, some people called for peace. Mir Harris took up a microphone to tell the crowd to be mindful of how they treat others in their daily conversations. Change, it was implied, starts with individuals showing respect to each other in their communities.

For those who were critical of the approach, Harris made her feelings clear: “Don’t worry about who’s in front of the camera. Fuck knowing my name, just know that I’m as passionate as you are.”

Though NMOS14 was supposed to be merely a vigil, the high emotions that ran in Leimert Park strengthened the ties between those from both inside and outside L.A., and hardened people’s resolve to support the people protesting in Ferguson against racial injustice and police brutality.

This article was originally published on Neon Tommy.