Tip helps police get suspect in Dodger Stadium assault

According to media reports a tip from a parole agent led police to arrest a suspect in the much publicized assault of a San Francisco Giants fan in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day.

Officer Lyle Knight of the Los Angeles Police Department said he has not received confirmation that the tip was from a parole officer. But the arrested suspect matches the description of the assailant with a mole on his face.

The suspect is identified as Giovanni Ramirez, 31. He is a Hispanic man from Los Angeles, police said. He was taken into custody in the 800 block of North Mariposa Avenue recently. He has been booked for assault with a deadly weapon and is being held on $1 million bail.

The two suspects in the attack were last seen leaving Parking Lot 2 of Dodger stadium. They were driven in a light or white four-door sedan by a woman. Both the woman and the other suspect involved in the attack are still at large, police said.

The LAPD has had 20 detectives assigned to the case, and has expended more than 6000 hours in the investigation. A $250,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.

According to a LAPD news release, Northeast Area detectives got the break they needed when, late last week, information from a law enforcement source allowed detectives to accelerate their investigation and focus on the suspect taken into custody early Sunday morning.image

Police said since the March 31 attack on 42-year old Bryan Stow, the LAPD has received more than 630 leads from law enforcement and the community. The number of leads increased substantially after hundreds of WANTED billboards went up across the city recently.

Police say the case began when Stow was leaving Dodger Stadium along with several of his friends, following the end of the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants baseball game. Then, two men who were wearing Dodger attire began taunting the victim and his friends because of their affiliation with the Giants. But as the victim and his friends tried to walk away, Stow was hit from behind. Once on the ground, the two suspects continued to kick Stow repeatedly to the head, police said. As a result of the beating Stow suffered a severe skull fracture.

Recently, Stow was moved to a Northern California hospital to be closer to his family. Stow is a paramedic and the father of two children.
Tips on the case can be referred to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222 (TIPS) 8477.

‘Tell Me Something Good’ artist gets star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Ten-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan received the 2,240th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of recording artist recently.

Khan has won ten Grammy Awards since being introduced as the front woman for the funk band Rufus in the early 1970s. Chaka Khan’s real name is Yvette Marie Stevens. She is 58 years old.
Superstar singer and song writer Stevie Wonder, who penned Chaka Khan’s first hit with the group, Rufus was on hand at the Walk-of-Fame ceremony. Wonder wrote the award winning song “Tell Me Something Good,” for Khan’s band.image

Rufus had other hit songs including “Once You Get Started,” “Everlasting Love,” and “Ain’t Nobody.”

Later, Chaka Khan broke with the band and launched a solo career with songs such as “I’m Every Woman,” written by Ashford & Simpson. Other solo songs include “Clouds,” “What’Cha Gonna Do For Me?” and the hit song “I Feel For You,” written by Prince.

In 1999, Chaka Khan established the Chaka Khan Foundation. In a partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the organization supports mentoring middle school students who are college bound.

John Muir Middle School Principal Miranda Ra’off and student Tempest Brown attended the Walk-of-Fame ceremony.

Reward doubled leading to arrest and conviction of suspects in beating at Dodger Stadium

The Los Angeles Police Department is seeking a woman in connection with the assault on San Francisco Giants fan who was beaten in a Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day in late March.

At a recent press conference, police said they are looking for a female Hispanic about 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 3 inches tall, approximately 20 years of age with brown or dyed hair in a ponytail. She was wearing a jersey with the name “Andre Ethier” on it. Ethier is an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the time of the beating, the woman was accompanied by a boy about 10 years old.

The two suspects in the beating were apparently driven away from Dodgers Stadium by the woman in a white or off-white four-door, newer luxury vehicle; possibly a Mitsubishi or Acura with tan interior, according to the LAPD.

The Dodgers have doubled the initial reward to more than $200,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects in the attack. Bryan Stow, a 42-year-old father of two and a paramedic, was knocked to the ground and kicked in the head. Stow has suffered brain damage.

Hundreds of billboards have been posted throughout Los Angeles with an artist’s composite of the two male suspects.

Police said they are looking at hundreds of leads in the beating on March 31 of Stow, who was beaten nearly to death in a Dodger Stadium parking lot after a Giants game.image

Recently, he was taken from the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center to the Bob Hope Airport for a trip to San Francisco General Hospital, so he can be treated closer to his Northern California home in Santa Cruz. Stow remains in critical condition.

Detective Pjai Morris said the search for the suspects is a statewide canvas that has included areas of San Francisco and San Diego.

“The family deserves (justice) and so do the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles,” Morris said. “We have a lot of good leads and I’d like to think we’re getting closer.”

Morris said there is no reason to believe that the suspects have fled the country.

Suspect one is described as a Hispanic male with a bald head, approximately 5 feet 6 inches tall to 5 feet 10 inches, 160-170 pounds and a stocky build. He’s about 20 to 25 years old. He has a mustache and goatee. He was wearing a Dodger jersey, dark shorts, and a blue hat with “LA” in white. He possibly has a tattoo on his neck and possibly has a mole or mark on the left side of his face.

Suspect two is a white or Hispanic male with short hair and hazel eyes. He is about 6 feet 1 inches tall, and about 28 to 35 years old. He was wearing dark clothing, possibly jeans and a black tank top. He may have tattoos on his shoulder.

For additional information contact Northeast Homicide Detectives at (213) 847-4261 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (213) 847-4261 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (213) 847-4261 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. You may text TIPLA plus your tip to 274637 (CRIMES) or call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Jumping the Broom is a forgettable class war melodrama

“Jumping the Broom” is a movie that’s poised to say something about the lives of black people, but then doesn’t.

This movie is a standard class war drama about a working class mother-in-law to be and her BAP (Black American Princess) future daughter-in-law. The broom jumping of the title dates back to some African cultures, where the broom was used in marriage ceremonies. The ritual re-emerged among African Americans after the publication of Alex Haley’s ground-breaking book “Roots.” According to Haley’s family memoir, black slaves “jumped the broom” as part of their wedding ritual because they were denied many of the other trappings of a standard American ceremony.

In this film, Pam (Loretta Devine) produces the broom that she and her late husband jumped over at their wedding, so that the family tradition can continue through their son, Jason (Laz Alonso). But future daughter in-law, Sabrina (Paula Patton) refuses to take part in such an inelegant enterprise.image

Before we can get to the wedding and the much-debated broom jumping, we have to suffer through a “meet cute,” where Sabrina accidentally runs over Jason. After a whirlwind romance of a few months, things go awry when the two very different families meet for the first time at a weekend wedding in Martha’s Vineyard.

The class war takes precedence over everything in “Jumping the Broom.” It might have been more enlightening (pun intended) to explore the “light skinned” and “dark skinned” divide among African Americans rather than this contrived bourgeoisie vs. blue collar stuff. After all, the mother-in-law is quite a bit darker than the future daughter-in-law. This idea that there is tension between the various shades of African-Americans is rarely explored in American cinema (see Spike Lee’s illuminating “School Daze.”)

The only true stand-out performance in this drivel is Angela Bassett as Sabrina’s mother. Everyone else is forgettable. But here they are anyway: Megan Good, Tasha Smith, Romeo Miller, Julie Brown, DeRay Davis, Valarie Pettiford, and Mike Epps. The film is directed and co-produced by Salim Akil (“The Game”) in his feature film debut. The screenplay is Elizabeth Hunter (Beauty Shop) and Arlene Gibbs (Traitor), from a story by Elizabeth Hunter. T.D. Jakes, Tracey E. Edmonds, Curtis Wallace, Elizabeth Hunter and Glendon Palmer produce the project.
“Jumping the Broom has a running time of 1 hour and 48 minutes and is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some sexual content.

Lucy Florence tenants face eviction

It’s official – the tenants of the Lucy Florence Coffee House and Cultural Center have been evicted from their space at 3351 West 43rd Street after a protracted three year legal battle with the property’s owners.

Recently, tenants Ron and and Richard Harris sent an open letter to intersectionssouthla.org explaining their side of the battle to remain on the premises, located in the Historic Leimert Park Village.

“Our goal has always been to serve the community with dignity and integrity, and to that end want to clear up some rumors and lies that have been spread about our lockout from the space in Leimert Park,” they said in the letter.

“It’s not true that we have not paid rent to the landlords, Fred and Virginia Calloway,” they claimed.image

Reached at home, Calloway said through his wife, that he did not want to discuss the Lucy Florence matter further.

But the attorney for the Calloways Barry S. Parker, did comment. He said, “Mr. Calloway was personally supportive of (the tenants). He directed a substantial amount of business to them,” Parker said in a telephone interview. “It’s was my understanding because of financial hardship, (the tenants) were not able to fulfill their commitment.”

In the letter, the Harris brothers claimed that there were “overpayments” to Mr. Calloway. They allege, “(he) had a habit of coming by whenever he wanted/needed money and publicly asking for money in the presence of Lucy Florence customers and business associates. In order to placate him, we would pay him some money when he made the request.”

The allegation that Mr. Calloway asked for money unofficially at various times is “absolutely not true,” Parker said.
The Harrises claim, “We have made every effort to give Mr. Calloway the final payment and resolve this issue. Our attorney has sent emails and left messages for Mr. Calloway’s attorney without the courtesy of a response.”

In response to the claims, Parker said the tenants are solely responsible for the protracted legal battle, and the resultant eviction.

“In 2008 we evicted them and (Calloway) was receptive to letting them reinstate their tenancy and he remained supportive of the business and held functions at their facility and tried to be supportive of what they’re doing. I mean, he directed business to their facility.’

According to their web site, the Harris brothers established Lucy Florence in 1996 and named it after their mother as a birthday homage. The store front was a premier shopping venue in Leimert Park, the web page said.

“Normal evictions take about four to six weeks to be concluded,” Parker said. “This went on for months and months to let the tenants have a chance. But (the tenants) were looking for ways to protract their tenancy irrespective of paying rent.”

Madea’s “Big Happy Family” delivers the laughs

Not surprisingly, Madea’s so-called big happy family is not exactly a cheerful clan. Actor, director, producer Tyler Perry loves to skewer the private and public foibles of the modern black family. And his latest effort “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family,” is no exception. Perry returns to his heartfelt themes of love, loss, disappointment, family secrets and general comic excess that are the hallmarks of Perry’s Madea films. image

“Big Happy Family” delivers on the laughs. Some gags are laugh-out loud funny – Madea driving through a drive-thru restaurant because she could not stomach being told it’s 10:31 a.m., and they have stopped serving breakfast. Other gags are just worth a chuckle – Madea slapping a disrespectful boy into the middle of next week. Perry as Madea often seems to be on the verge of Carol Burnett Show-style breaking as the actor – gussied up in full Madea regalia complete with pearls – struggles to keep from laughing at his own comic creation.

The film’s premise is centered on a family member who receives some dire news about her health. For the first act, it is unclear what connection Madea has to these people. In fact, an hour goes by before you see Madea interact with them. Apparently, the sick relative (played to perfection by Loretta Devine) is Madea’s “favorite niece,” Shirley. And Madea is called upon to gather Shirley’s children and grandchildren so they can hear the distressing news about Shirley’s health. Madea agrees to this task although she and Shirley have different parenting styles. Madea explains “she likes to pray and I like to punish.”

But before the fateful super, Madea has to deliver more than a few heartfelt diatribes about how this one is disrespecting his elders or how that one is forgetting where she came from.

Madea’s relatives come from three strata of the modern black family like the bourgeoisie, the “hood rats”, and the blue collar workers. In his earlier films (“The Family That Preys,” “Why Did I Get Married?,” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”), Perry leaned heavily on a fourth group making up the black family – the church-goers. They are all but absent here. Still, the “churchies” receive an occasional nod in the film. Madea tells her mechanic that he’s incompetent because she has to “pray” to get her car to start each morning. “And you know God don’t like me,” she says. Madea’s relatives are usually the god-fearing sort but Madea, herself, says she’ll return to church when they get a smoking section.

In “Big Happy Family,” there is a throw-away subplot involving the true parentage of Madea’s daughter Cora (played by the stalwart Tamela Mann).

In the film, Perry gives many of the best comic situations to Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis); Madea’s sister, who is a rounder, shorter version of Madea. Aunt Bam spends much of her time smoking pot, eating, and trying to seduce a man one-third her age. It could be that Perry is grooming Davis to take over as the mantle of the trash talking, take no prisoners grandma.

Could it be that Perry is ready to hang up his dress? Stay tuned.

The film also stars Shad “Bow wow” Moss as Byron; David Mann as Brown; Lauren London as Renee; Isaiah Mustafa as Calvin; Rodney Perry as Harold; Shannon Kane as Kimberly; Tyana Taylor as Sabrina: Natalie Desselle Reid as Tammy, and of course Tyler Perry as Madea and her brother Joe. Perry also serves as screenwriter and director.

To mark Earth Day: Bringing the green zone to South LA

Earth Day shines light on major concerns

“We want to build a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty,” Van Jones said in his best-selling book “The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems.”
“We want to create green pathways out of poverty and into great careers for American children. We want this ‘green wave’ to lift all boats. This country can save the polar bears and kids too.”

As the nation turns its attention to Earth Day tomorrow, the country is looking to activists like Jones to explain how Blacks and Browns in minority communities can become part of a green revolution that hopes to sustain the environment and create jobs. This is significant because many Hispanic and African Americans are disproportionately exposed to air pollution and other environmental risks, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies.

For example, a 1991 study cited by the EPA found that African Americans and Hispanics were more likely to be exposed to ground level ozone and several other air pollutants known to cause cancer, according to a General Accounting Office report on clean air rules.

In 1992, the EPA established an office to address environmental air pollution affecting racial minorities and low-income communities. Efforts to identify and address disproportionately high and adverse impacts on specific populations and communities are commonly referred to under the term “environmental justice.”

Justice is a term spoken frequently in the Black and Brown communities.

Environmental justice is something that a new building at Los Angeles Southwest Community College will hopefully address, said Jack E. Daniels III, Ph.D., president of the college.

The 44,142 square-foot facility located along Imperial Highway will house the Environmental Sciences and Technology Department, where students can receive training in alternative energy, including wind, solar and water technologies, as well as explorations in energy conservation and sustainability, according to information cited by the college. About 67 percent of the students at the school are African American and 32 percent are Hispanic, Daniels said.

“Green jobs realistically will take time. In the meantime, we’re decreasing our use of energy. It’s going to help the environment and the community. We can assist now in sustaining the planet. The whole issue of sustainability has been a focus of the community college district since 2001. In fact, the (Los Angles Community College District) has been a leader in the country in areas of sustainability.”

imageSouthwest has evolved since 1967 from a campus of bungalows that served as classrooms to state-of-the-art buildings that are certified by the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), says the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) district. Southwest is one of nine colleges that make up the district. The funds for the new buildings come from the $6 billion district construction program approved by Los Angeles voters.

“We are transforming more than a college campus. We are changing lives and a community,” Daniels said. “With the new School of Arts & Humanities and Career & Technical Education facilities coming online in 2012, we hope to inspire creativity and innovation, and expose our students to emerging alternative energy technologies that will be in high demand over the next few years.”

LEED created the Green Building Rating System in 1993 and is currently the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.
“The [LEED] buildings are more energy efficient. The grounds have drought-resistant plants,” Daniels said. “There are solar panels generating the energy for the buildings.”

The buildings will be occupied in about 15 months, he added.

Environmentally friendly buildings are key components of the green revolution, but so are people and their behaviors, said Mike Meador, founder of California Greenworks Inc., a nonprofit organization whose charter is to improve urban communities in South Los Angeles. The motto for the organization is “Greening Communities One Neighborhood at a Time.”

“My take on Earth Day is that it’s not a holiday but a day we should recognize,” said Meador. “We only have one planet, and we share it with everybody.”
According to Meador, the sustainability of the environment is something that transcends racial lines.

“There is no race relations situation with the environment. We’re all impacted by those circumstances. In terms of the environmental movement, the environment crosses everyone’s path, because we all share the same planet together. For instance, we think about every day stewardship issues like recycling. If we are not cognizant of these behaviors, we can affect everyone. As a whole, we have not done enough to put in place other forms of energy. We rely on fossil fuels. I think we need to get back to basics. There needs to be green job opportunities.”

In his books, Jones calls for ensuring “that those communities that were locked out of the last century’s pollution-based economy will be locked into the new clean and green economy.
“We know we don’t have any throwaway species or resources, and we know that we don’t have any throwaway children or neighborhoods either. All of creation is precious and sacred. And we are all in this together.”

Meador agrees. “The environment crosses everyone’s path because we all share this planet together. We all drink the same water, breathe the same air, and live on the same land,” he said. “I know there are those who believe (in the Legislature) that saving the environment hampers business. But we have to be good stewards of the day-to-day care of the environment. But I know the fight is fierce (in Washington) over the environment.”

The environmental movement has become an issue of political polarization. Jones said in his book “…it is tempting to say that we don’t need a U.S. president who will fix everything; we just need one who will stop breaking everything. That alone would make a tremendous difference…”

Jones himself became a political casualty in the environmental debate. Not long after being appointed environmental adviser to the White House, Jones resigned in 2009 after his left-leaning politics resulted in
Republican calls for his ouster.

Jones is well-known in the environmental movement. He worked for the White House Council on Environmental Quality before his resignation.

Southwest professor of environmental science Alistaire Callender shied away from speaking directly on the political issues involved with creating a sustainable environment.
“Sometimes people don’t understand what the issues are,” Callender said. “When you explain the issues, their perspectives change. We’re all in this together. It doesn’t matter what side of the (political) spectrum you’re on.”

As far as job creation, one plan is for the college to develop a certificate program in environmental studies that trains students to conduct home energy audits. Beyond that, the college will be providing courses in environmental studies that can be transferred to schools offering four-year degrees in environmental science.

“We use a lot of resources in the United States. We’re less than 5 percent of the population, but we use 25 percent of the resources,” Callender said. And as other nations such as India develop and seek to use resources commensurate with their share of the population, the American way of using resources becomes increasingly unsustainable, he said.

Callender said he wants people to take a more holistic view of the environment beyond the creation of green jobs to the moral obligation of individual action that could help to sustain the environment.
The public must be encouraged to develop a personal relationship with the environment and think about how individual action can affect sustainability, Callender said.

“(To mark Earth Day) I would say stop using so much bottled water. It’s merely tap water that’s been filtered. We have been convinced that our tap water is bad. Just think about how much plastic we waste when we’re doing that. (The bottles) end up in the landfills or being dumped somewhere else. We’re using large amounts of material to make these bottles to carry around a product that we can get from the tap. Buy yourself a stainless steel container, and fill it with (tap) water.”

The political landscape and the environment can be a hotly contested issue, Meador said. Still, he is cautious about blaming either Republicans or Democrats for what ails the environment. He said he would rather focus more on creating those so-called “green collar” jobs that Jones championed.

To this end, Meador hopes to start a program called California Greenworks@works Environmental Resource and Development Program. The program is designed to create jobs in the green economy, he said. One of the “green jobs” people can be trained to do is energy audits of homes. For instance, the technician will check the air flows of the home and whether the air conditioning is working efficiently.

Meador said he is seeking about $3 million over five years from organizations like the EPA and other government entities like the county of Los Angeles to get such a “green jobs” training program started.
“We can work toward creating jobs. At least (people in South Los Angeles) will have the skills and training to compete (in the new green economy),” he said.

California Greenworks plans to host the sixth annual Los Angeles EarthFest Concert in the Park for the Environment & Expo Saturday. The event will include a concert in the park from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This year’s festival includes a host of free activities for the entire family, each centered on relevant environmental topics. The concert features smooth Jazz performances from leading guitarist Paul Brown and saxophone sensation Jessy J and Blues Jazz artist Barbara Morrison. If you mention OurWeekly, the concert tickets will be $35. The event will be held at Kenneth Hahn Park 4100 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles.
For information on the event, call (323) 298-5077 or on the web at earthfestla.org.

California Greenworks partners with local community-based organizations and groups along with other nonprofit organizations. These partnerships allow the group to put programs and projects into action that make a difference in neighborhoods across South Los Angeles.

Some of the recent efforts include restoration of waterways, engaging elementary school students on the importance of protecting the environment, and creating a community-based program that raises watershed pollution awareness. The group extends invitations on its website to “help to plant a tree, clean up a waterway, or lend a hand to restore a wildlife habitat.

This story also appears on Our Weekly

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater appears in LA this month

Photos courtesy of Davidson & Choy Publicity

The ingredients for a first class dance performance seems to be a woman in a fedora and a man’s suit with the jacket cut in half vertically across the chest, one wooden chair, and an expansive empty stage. She leaps, she twirls, her extremities are extended beyond all reason, and the performance is breathless and breathtaking.image

This piece called “The Evolution of a Secured Feminine” is just one of the dance numbers performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The dance troupe will perform at the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion through April 17. Other performances included in this production are The Hunt, Anointed, Three Black Kings, Cry and the luminous Revelations.
In its LA engagement the company will mark a half century of the troupe’s signature number called Revelations. At a recent performance, the audience gave Revelations three curtain calls. Revelations set to beautiful spiritual music has to be seen to be believed. It has the elements of old time spiritual revival meeting and quality dance performance.
Ailey, who died in 1989, appears via a short film during the performance. The film includes historic performance footage and rare interviews with Alvin Ailey and Artistic Director Judith Jamison.

This is the final season for Jamison to serve as artistic director for the troupe.

“We are thrilled to share this exciting time in Ailey’s history,” Jamison said in a release. “We’re on a journey that began 52 years ago because of Alvin Ailey’s groundbreaking vision. His Revelations is a profound manifestation of how dance can celebrate the human spirt and impact our hearts and minds. During this memorable season, as we welcome Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle, join my incredible dancers who are shinning their light brightly as we begin another five decades of inspiring performances.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” according to the release. It grew from a now-fabled 1958 New York performance that changed American dance. The company has performed for an estimated 23 million people in 71 countries on six continents. The troupe celebrates the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition.