Xinran Ji suffered fatal blows to head

Jonathan DelCarmen and Alberto Ochoa listen to witnesses give testimony as Rose Tsai, attorney for Xinran Ji's parents, watches from the audience. | Daina Beth Solomon

Jonathan DelCarmen and Alberto Ochoa listen to witnesses give testimony as Rose Tsai, attorney for Xinran Ji’s parents, watches from the audience. | Daina Beth Solomon

By Daina Beth Solomon, Celeste Alvarez and Olivia Lavoice

Xinran Ji died from swelling and bleeding inside his brain after being struck on the head at least six times with a blunt object, possibly a baseball bat, testified a L.A. County medical examiner Wednesday as prosecutors revealed evidence about the killing.

The 24-year-old from China was attacked last summer in an attempted robbery near his apartment, blocks from where he studied engineering at the University of Southern California.   

Deputy medical examiner Louis Pena said any one of six blows could have been fatal. Ultimately, the brain stem, which controls one’s breathing and heart rate, failed as capillaries ruptured and bled.  [Read more…]

Trader Joe’s scouting out first South LA store

Trader Joe's | Rebecca

Trader Joe’s | Rebecca

In 1967, the first Trader Joe’s opened in Pasadena. The supermarket chain began selling its organic pretzels and “Two Buck-Chuck” wine among other groceries outside of California in the 1990s and grew to operate more than 400 stores nationwide.

Now, for the first time, Trader Joe’s is coming to South L.A.

The store has committed to opening a location at the forthcoming USC Village, located on Hoover and 31st streets near the Figueroa Corridor, according to USC University Communications.

Many residents who live in the area are rejoicing. [Read more…]

New USC Village breaks ground

Community members, student leaders, trustees and local politicians break ground with USC president Max Nikias. | Phoenix Tso/Neon Tommy

Community members, student leaders, trustees and local politicians break ground with USC president Max Nikias. | Phoenix Tso/Neon Tommy

Nearly 950 members of the USC community gathered Monday morning in 90-degree weather to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new USC Village, a project that aims to raise USC’s reputation around the world.

“There will be no one to catch up to,” said USC president C.L. Max Nikias about the appeal of specific project features to incoming students. These features include the 2700 beds to be added by 2017, and the retail space that will open up and about the McCarthy Honors College, which Trustee Kathleen Leavey McCarthy donated $30 million to build for incoming merit scholarship students. “Everyone will want to go where the action is.”

In the days leading up to the groundbreaking, admissions officials were excitedly anticipating how to market these features to next year’s freshmen. During the ceremony, President Nikias spoke of how USC was committed to transforming from a commuter university to a residential one, like “other preeminent universities.”

“This is special for us,” said Timothy Brunold, USC Dean of Admissions, in a phone interview in the days leading up to the groundbreaking. “The students we’re currently recruiting will be able to use it.”  [Read more…]

The Village at USC means changes in South LA

The Los Angeles City Council’s 15-0 vote on Tuesday to approve the University of Southern California’s proposed renovation and expansion of The Village at USC on the northern side of the University Park campus came after years of negotiations between USC and community groups. Below is a joint statement issued by USC, UNIDAD Coalition (United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement, which includes: Community Development Technologies Center (“CDTech”); Esperanza Community Housing Corporation; Tenemos que Reclamar y Unidos Salvar La Tierra-South LA (“T.R.U.S.T. South LA”); Playa Vista Job Opportunities and Business Services (“PV JOBS”); Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (“SAJE”); St. Francis Center; United University Church; Blazers Youth Services Community Club; and St. Agnes Church; and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.


USC and the UNIDAD Coalition are proud to announce the following community benefits that will be included as part of the Development Agreement for USC’s Specific Plan.

In connection with its 20 year development plan and consistent with USC’s longstanding commitment to civic engagement, USC has agreed to provide $15-20 million in affordable housing funds for use in the neighborhoods surrounding the University Park Campus; create a legal clinic within the USC Gould School of Law that provides assistance to tenants currently living in surrounding neighborhoods; and construct 4,038 net new student beds on campus. USC has further committed to: local (30%) and disadvantaged (10%) hiring for the thousands of both permanent and construction jobs created by the project, most of which are union or meet or exceed the City’s Living Wage Ordinance; funding for job training and job placement services for local residents; business assistance for up to 40 local small businesses; relocation assistance for qualifying existing University Village businesses; mechanisms for bringing existing businesses back to the new University Village project once constructed; a 15% local procurement goal; and funding for parks and community gardens. In addition, the UNIDAD Coalition and USC have established an Economic Development Coordinating Council – a collaborative effort to create a job training and placement pipeline for South Los Angeles residents. This coordinating council will also bring together services to strengthen and develop new small businesses along the corridors surrounding the University Park Campus in South Los Angeles.

USC, the UNIDAD Coalition, and other community stakeholders have engaged in an ongoing dialogue in the spirit of establishing benefits that improve the quality of life for residents and University students, in and around South Los Angeles. A collaborative public process has played a key role in bringing about these community benefits that will provide critical investments in the local community. USC appreciates the value everyone brought to and will continue to bring to neighborhood revitalization efforts, including the UNIDAD Coalition, faith leaders, parents of students in USC’s Family of Schools, and local community and business organizations, and are hopeful this effort will create pathways for future collaborations that are fundamental to the creation of a healthy South Los Angeles.