LA Press Club recognizes Intersections for South LA reporting


Annenberg students, along with Journalism School Director Willow Bay and Annenberg Dean Ernie Wilson, crowd the Biltmore Hotel lobby on their way into the LA Press Club Awards ceremony.


Intersections was honored by the Los Angeles Press Club in nine award categories Sunday night for reporting on topics ranging from Zumba fitness to LAUSD mismanagement, sidewalk tacos to criminal justice. During 2014, the year recognized by the 57th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards, Intersections expanded its ranks and moved into the Annenberg School’s new Media Center while continuing to explore untold stories of South L.A. and experiment with multimedia storytelling. We also became Press Club nominees for the first time — which now offers us the chance to highlight excellent reporting that illuminates many sides of South L.A. life.

Read on for links to some of the finest work from Intersections of 2014, with gratitude to our staff and advisors. The full list of winners is available on the L.A. Press Club website.

— Daina Beth Solomon
Outgoing Editor-in-Chief

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LA County vows support for immigrants

Supervisors will create a task force to help deferred action applicants even as Obama’s relief programs are halted.

Supervisor Hilda Solis announces the creation of task force to help immigrants applying for deferred action. | D. Solomon

Supervisor Hilda Solis announces the creation of task force to help immigrants applying for deferred action. | D. Solomon

Los Angeles County officials voted Tuesday to put resources in place to help immigrants apply for deportation relief, despite a federal judge’s ruling last week to halt an expansion of the Obama administration’s deferred action programs.

The Board of Supervisors decided in a 4-1 vote to create a task force that would ensure support for the nearly 500,000 county residents who qualify for work permits and legal residency under two new federal programs.

Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who proposed the task force along with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, said county agencies need to prepare for the likelihood that the federal court ban is reversed. [Read more…]

Tornado tears through South LA, ripping five roofs and spooking all

South L.A., moments before the tornado swirled in earnest, caught on tape by an onlooker. |ABC7 screenshot

South L.A., moments before the tornado swirled in earnest, caught on tape by an onlooker. | ABC7 screenshot

Well, this is a rare headline.

A tornado swirling at least 65 miles per hour touched down in South Los Angeles Friday morning, ripping the roofs off several homes, flinging trash and debris into the air and leaving onlookers gaping in disbelief at the vicious, rare display of weather.

Some recorded videos that the National Weather Service later used to rank the mini-twister at level EF0, the smallest on the scale, which can spin up to 85 miles per hour.

“Look at that, look at that!” said one man in a heavily bleeped-out video obtained by ABC7, just seconds before the tornado began spinning in earnest. “What the bleep!” he exclaimed, multiple times, as palm trees swayed at their waists and debris got catapulted over his head and onto the adjacent roof.

In less than a minute, it was over. “Look what that did to our neighborhood, yo,” the cameraman concluded in astonishment.

Watch the action here:

According to the L.A. Times, the fierce wind succeeded at damaging a total of five homes, including tearing the roof off a duplex. A steel-edged sign that crashed into a window at the Garr Learning Center spooked the preschoolers inside, but none were injured.

To see the damage for yourself, visit the intersection of S. Vermont and W. Gage and head to 57th St. and Figueroa.

Did you see the tornado?! Tell us about it in the comments below and email pictures to [email protected]

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Lark Galloway-Gilliam, South LA health activist, dies at 61

Lark Galloway-Gilliam | re-code LA

Lark Galloway-Gilliam | re:code LA

Lark Galloway-Gilliam, the founder of activist organization Community Health Councils who pushed for quality health and healthcare in South L.A., has died. She was 61. Among many accomplishments, the native Angeleno helped create an ordinance limiting fast food eateries, recruited grocery stores featuring nutritious options, led the charge against a toxic oil field and brought health education to underserved groups.

An obituary in the Los Angeles touches on the impact of her legacy, cultivated since founding her nonprofit in the wake of the 1992 L.A. Riots:

“As the founder of Community Health Councils, Galloway-Gilliam worked with lawmakers, corporate executives and residents to tackle institutional problems that have plagued South L.A. Along the way, she helped cultivate the next generation of activists by hosting workshops to teach residents how to protect their community.”

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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…]

Zumba boom in South LA’s concrete desert

A new crop of Zumba studios have taken root in South LA,

helping people lose weight and transform their lives.

Students get some air time while jumping in a Zumba class. | Daina Beth Solomon

Students get some air time while jumping in a Zumba class. | Daina Beth Solomon

This article was recently featured in the Huffington Post’s “What’s Working” campaign. It originally appeared on Intersections on October 30, 2014.

“She used to be fat!” a woman said after Patricia Campos’ class on a recent weekday morning, nudging her elbow at a fellow student.

“No, I used to be fat!” a friend chimed in.

“I was fat, too!” added another.

Just minutes prior, the trio of 30-somethings were among 20 women clad in black leggings and neon hued tops twisting side to side as a Dominican cumbia song blasted from the stereo.

“Get movin’!” commanded Campos in Spanish, pointing to one women’s waist with a mock serious expression of indignation.

Patricia Campos

Patricia Campos tells her students: “Forget about your kids, about your husband, forget about your work. Give yourself up. This hour is yours, enjoy it.” | Daina Beth Solomon

Campos herself bounced with energy, demonstrating each routine without resting between numbers. She paused only to snag a paper towel with her foot and wipe it across the floor to soak up flying beads of sweat.

Nearly 40 Zumba studios have cropped up in the 50-square-mile region of South L.A. over the past few years, offering homegrown exercise facilities in an area that had long lacked affordable options. In an area of Los Angeles where the population faces a surfeit of obesity, the classes may be one way Angelenos in South L.A. can work toward shrinking their waistlines. [Read more…]

Call for help, call to stop human trafficking


Mark Ridley-Thomas finds the sex trafficking of minors the most horrific human trafficking crime. | Daina Beth Solomon

Los Angeles will soon see several dozen new billboards and posters across the city featuring digits outlined in bright teal – a hotline for human trafficking victims to get help. Human trafficking, while long associated with foreign countries, is a reality in the United States, and victims can include men and women of all ages.

Sex trafficking in particular has plagued Los Angeles, with young girls forced into prostitution by men who are often affiliated with gangs. Several main drags in South L.A., Hollywood and the Valley are some of the top pick-up spots on the West Coast.

In South L.A., the women walk past the liquor shops, storefront churches and schools lining Figueroa and Western, often wearing lingerie and mini skirts and high heels. In the dark of the night, they are some of the only people out and about.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas representing South L.A. said it’s “egregious” for so many minors to be trapped in such work.

“The problem is, to some extent a hidden one, a hidden one in plain sight,” he told Intersections.

He and other officials believe increasing public awareness is essential. They hope the billboards remind victims that they have options to escape.

#TBT South LA: Vernon Library, 1950

vernon library

The Vernon Library, courtesy USC Libraries.

“Open to all” reads a grand inscription above the doorway to the Vernon Public Library in South L.A., circa 1950. Two women stand in front, dwarfed by tall Greek columns.

The library’s grandeur has since faded. But the building still stands in its original location, possibly dating back to 1920 when Central Avenue was the city’s hot corridor for jazz music.


The front facade of the Vernon Library in a photo from sometime between 1920 and 1950.


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#TBT South LA: Jefferson High, 1938

Jefferson High 1938

A Jefferson High Yearbook from 1938 photographed at the Southern California Library | Daina Beth Solomon

When Jefferson High School opened in 1916, South Los Angeles was beginning to reflect the diversity of people immigrating to Los Angeles from around the country and the world. By 1938, a single page in the yearbook listed names as diverse as “Satoshi Suzuki,” “Dora Mae Ten,” “Esperanza Garza” and “Marcellus Reed.” The faces staring up — some serious, some smiling — come from Black, Latino, Asian and White backgrounds.

While diversity in the city as a whole has continued increasing, South L.A. in some areas has become more homogenous. These days, the neighborhood surrounding Jefferson is 91 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Black and 1 percent Asian, according to the 2012 American Community Survey. Now that will be a different kind of yearbook.

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This yearbook resides in the archives of the Southern California Library

Got a historical photo from South L.A.? Email it to [email protected] to be featured in the next “Throwback Thursday South L.A.”

George McKenna wins LAUSD School Board, LAPD reacts to South LA death + USC attackers plead not guilty

George McKenna |

LA School Report: George McKenna won the District 1 seat of the LAUSD School Board covering a swath of South L.A., beating opponent Alex Johnson with 53 percent of the vote. Just 8 percent of eligible voters turned out for the runoff election.

LA Times: The LAPD provides details on the controversial killing of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South L.A.

Reuters: Four teenagers pleaded not guilty to the fatal attack of USC engineering graduate student Xinran Ji.

LA Weekly: South LA’s KIPP Empower Academy Charter School in the Vermont Knolls neighborhood is named as one of the “awesome LAUSD schools in affordable neighborhoods” in a piece by our colleague Ani Ucar from Annenberg Radio News.

NBC: School is back in session, and things are starting to get back to normal at Miramonte Elementary, the South L.A. campus plagued since 2012 by reports of child abuse.

KCET Artbound: The old church at 49th and Compton is actually a modernist gem by architect Rudolph Schindler.

CityWatch: Is predatory loaning happening in South L.A.?