LAUSD fails arts education test + Safe Halloween activities in South LA

LAUSD has cut arts programs dramatically and is now looking to reinstate programs. Above, Crenshaw High School.

LAUSD has cut arts programs dramatically and is now looking to reinstate programs. Above, Crenshaw High School.

Only 35 L.A. public schools get an A in supporting the arts: Budget cuts in LAUSD have diminished arts programs for students, but now the district is looking for new ways to reincorporate the arts into schools. (LA Times)

Families provided with safe Halloween across South LA communities: 25 intersections across South LA offered families the chance to enjoy a safe Halloween night in communities better known for violence. (ABC7)

40 years for four shots

Brandon Spencer is paying a 40-year price for four shots that killed no one

By Olga Grigoryants and Daina Beth Solomon

brandon-spencerLike any proud father, James Spencer is eager to show off photos of his son.

Seated at a desk in his Inglewood apartment on a recent Friday evening, the 59-year-old shuffled legal documents, news clippings and letters until he unearthed a photo of a young man wearing a white dress shirt and a black tie — Brandon Spencer at age 18, suited up for work as a security guard.

Now the younger Spencer wears a different uniform. He has recently begun serving a 40 year prison term for opening fire at a Halloween party two years ago at the University of Southern California. 

When neighbors, friends and family heard that Spencer had been charged with four counts of attempted murder, many reacted with disbelief. They thought: “Nah, it can’t be Brandon.”
[Read more…]

A Very Healthy Happy Halloween

Children from across South Los Angeles went “trick or treating” Friday night at the Los Angeles Expo Center. But at the end of the night, their bags weren’t full of candy — they were full of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Brotherhood Crusade, along with several other retailers and service organizations, held the second annual “Very Healthy Happy Halloween” event Friday night. The event was candy-free and offered healthy alternatives for children and their families.

“We’re really encouraging our families to look at how can they have a better healthy lifestyle and showing them alternatives on how to do that,” said Charisse Bremond-Weaver, the president of the Brotherhood Crusade, which provides social services for underprivileged areas throughout Los Angeles County.

After filling their bags with plums, bananas, carrots and more, children were able to go through a haunted house, have their fortune read, play in a petting zoo or do arts and crafts.

Bremond-Weaver estimated that more than 1,000 people from around South Los Angeles attended the event.

“When you look at how underserved communities have a lack of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, it is really this desert of not healthy eating,” Bremond-Weaver said. “We really want to educate our community on the difference between healthy and unhealthy eating.”

Parents said they were excited to get the fresh fruits and vegetables. In South LA, where fast food is more common than supermarkets, fresh produce can be difficult to come by. All produce was donated by Coast Produce.

“Usually kids eat only candy and junk food and this event is opening them up to a lot of healthy stuff that we can’t always get,” said Noemy Molina, who brought her 6-year-old son Phoenix Chavez.

Jefferson Castillo, who brought his two young sons to play the games, said his kids seem to be happier and calmer when they eat healthily.

imageChildhood obesity has steadily risen over the last 50 years in the United States. Los Angeles area doctors said that almost 50 percent of their patients are either overweight or obese.

The biggest culprit for the weight problem?

Children are eating too much processed food instead of eating natural and organic foods, according to Dr. Matthew Keefer from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“Certainly most of us don’t have as much access to fresh fruits and vegetables as we probably should, but also we are eating too many things that come in a package that have extra calories added to it or extra chemicals added to it that are there to preserve it but that aren’t necessarily healthy,” Keefer said.

The best way for parents to encourage healthy eating is to set a good example – eating balanced meals and treating candy, junk food and sodas as treats and not part of a regular diet.

“When they are not under their parents’ control they are going to do what they’ve seen their parents do because they think that is what is adult-like,” Keefer said.

Though economic and time constraints can prevent parents form maintaining an ideal, Keefer said that finding a happy medium is critical for a child’s health.

“We just need to do all that we can to make sure there are safe places for these kids to play and an expectation that a regular part of your diet should be natural things that grow rather than hot Cheetos that are died with food coloring,” he said.

Boy’s murder on Halloween sparks anger in local community

Listen to the audio story:


Happy and proud of his Spiderman costume, 5-year-old Aaron Shannon was getting ready for a Halloween party, when he was shot in the back of his head. The young boy’s death sparked anger in the community due to the heinous nature of the crime and the innocence of the victims.

Detective Douglas Pierce is one of the main investigators on the case. He says the Los Angeles Police Department was overwhelmed with the number of phone calls about the boy’s murder.

The Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered a $100,000 reward for information in the case.

Marcus Denson, 18, and Leonard Hall, Jr., 21, both admitted members of the Kitchen Crips, were arrested last week. Despite their young age, both suspects have prior convictions. Denson was on probation for battery and criminal threats. Hall was on parole for a narcotic related crime.

Detective Pierce is in contact with Shannon’s family. He says “the arrests will not take the pain away.”


A viewing will be held Thursday, Nov. 11 at 5 p.m at the Simpson Family Mortuary, 5138 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90037-3837.

The funeral is Friday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. It will be at the City of Refuge Church, 14527 South San Pedro Street, Gardena, CA 90248.


Picture courtesy of LAist

Reward offered for information on shooting of 5-year-old boy in South L.A.

From Councilwoman Jan Perry’s office:

Aaron Shannon, 5, was shot on Halloween. Shannon died in hospital Monday night. (Photo courtesy of LAist.)

Update: On November 3, 2010 The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, acting on Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ recommendation, added $25,000 in reward money to the city’s offer, bringing the total to $100,000.

Councilwoman Jan Perry received unanimous support from her council colleagues today for the issuance of a $75,000 reward for information leading to the identification and apprehension of the person or persons responsible for the death of a five-year old. The motion allows the City Council to provide a reward of up to $75,000 for information leading to the identification, apprehension, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this violent crime.

“This is an assault on our entire community. I hope that this reward motion will help the 77th Area detectives find the person or persons who shot and killed an innocent child on Halloween,” said Perry. “If you have any information, please come forward for the sake of this family and our community at large.”

On Sunday, October 31, 2010, at 2 p.m., five year old Aaron Shannon, his uncle Terrance Shannon (27 yrs. old), and his grandfather William Shannon (56 yrs. old) were standing in the backyard of 1007 East 84th Street when unknown suspects walking eastbound through the alley and fired numerous shots. All three were struck by gunfire and transported to the hospital. Terrance and William were treated for non-life threatening injuries and released from the hospital; Aaron was hospitalized in grave condition and died on November 1, 2010.

Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call 77th Division Criminal Gang/Homicide Detectives at (213) 485-1383. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

Halloween Events in South Los Angeles

October 29:

LAPD 77th St. Area Halloween Carnival Extravaganza
Oct. 29 to 31, on Broadway between Florence Avenue and 79th Street.

Fun, rides, games and food!


Martin Luther King Street Carnival at Western
1546 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90062

Carnival Hours;
Friday, Oct. 29, 3pm to 11 pm
Saturday, Oct. 30, 1pm to 11 pm
Sunday, Oct. 31, 1pm to 11 pm

Pre-Sale tickets are sold at the Southwest Police Station, 1546 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Save money by buying early. $20 per sheet of 10 tickets, good for one ticket per ride. The Southwest Community Relations Office can be reached at (213) 847-5800. View a slide show of last year’s tricks and treats on Leimert Park Beat.


Halloween Festival at the Rita D. Walters Learning Complex
Oct. 29, 4pm to 7pm, 932 W 85th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90044

Free entry. Costume parade, games and prizes.


Halloween at the Expo Center
Oct. 29, 5:30pm, 3980 Menlo Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90037

5:30pm to 7 pm: BINGO

7 pm: Costume parade and contest

7 pm: Monster House the Movie

Also: Syncro Swim Showcase

Brought to you by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and Brotherhood Crusade.


October 30:

Women4Wesson “4th Annual Halloween Masquerade Ball”
Oct. 30 at 8pm, 3785 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010

Please join Women4Wesson under the leadership of our President, Fabian Wesson as we reach out to assist homeless, helpless and often hopeless children. In attendance: special guest Councilman Herb Wesson, 10th District,  City of Los Angeles.

The event will be held on Saturday, October 30, 2010 from 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 on the Skydeck of the 22-story glass wrapped Solair Wilshire tower.  The address is 3785 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA.  Valet parking is available.  Masquerade and vintage costumes are optional.

Reserve your tickets now by calling Gladys Wesson-Strickland (310) 672-7281 or Patricia Childers (323) 293-7502 or email: kingandassociate[at]


The City of Angels 2010 Masquerade Ball
Oct. 30, 8:30pm to 2am, 431 West Seventh Street, Los Angeles, California 90014

The History of the Masquerade Ball: First noted in Italy during the 15th Century Renaissance, Masquerade Balls were costumed public festivities that were particularly popular in Venice. They were generally elaborate dances held for members of the progressive class, and have been associated with the tradition of the Venetian Carnival. Today, these balls are embodied all over the world.

About the Event: There will be two rooms of Mingling, Laughter, and Dancing while listening to the sounds of progressive DJ’s. Upscale men and women from all over SoCal will gather wearing the most extravagant costumes and masks.

General Admission $20.00
$15.00 before 9:30pm with RSVP: RSVP[at]

LA Athletic Club
431 West Seventh Street
(on the northeast corner of 7th and Olive Streets)
Los Angeles, California 90014
Doors Open at 8:30pm. Event runs until 2:00am
For more information visit


HARD Haunted Mansion
Oct. 30, 6pm to Nov 1, 2am, Shrine Expo Center, 665 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90007

This two day dance festival takes place on Halloween weekend featuring live performances from Underworld, Bloody Beetroots, Boys Noize, Rusko, Calvin Harris and Flying Lotus. Tickets are sold out for Saturday night, but still available for Halloween at $75 (over 18 only) or $130 V.I.P. (over 21 only.) Buy tickets online here or visit a href=“”> for more information.


October 31:

Haunted Picnic
Oct. 31, 11am, 658 E 111th Place, Los Angeles CA 90059

A Harvest Celebration for L.A.’s Community Gardens & Friends, hosted by Stanford Avalon Community Garden and the Los Angeles Community Garden Council. Theme: A family-friendly picnic & fusion of Halloween & Dia de los Muertos activities. Food buffet, live music, garden swap/seed giveaway, Dio de los Muertos altar display, kids’ activities, costume parade, beer garden (adults only), and garden information tables.

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
658 E 111th Place,
LA CA 90059
Free Parking: 600 E Lanzit Ave. (Off Avalon)

$5 for community gardeners: if you volunteer, you get in for FREE!!!
$10 all others
Children under 12 free
Wear Your Halloween/Dia de Los Muertos Costume!


Halloween Festival at the Spider Pavilion
Oct. 31, 12pm to 5pm, Natural History Museum, 900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Open Again September 26 Through November 7, the one-of-a-kind Spider Pavilion is a beautifully landscaped area on the Museum’s South Lawn where spiders freely spin their spectacular webs for all to see. Tickets are sold in half-hour intervals throughout the day at a rate of $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, and $1 for children. Museum Members receive free admission. Tickets can be purchased at any Museum admissions desk or at the Spider Pavilion itself. The Pavilion is open every day of the week from 10 am to 5 pm, with the last tickets sold at 4:30 pm. Learn more about the exhibit at


Also Halloween Weekend:

Long Beach Comic Con
Oct.29 to Oct. 31, The Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd.

Friday: 1pm to 8pm
Saturday: 10a.m. to 7 p.m
Sunday: 10am to 4pm

Admission: $25 for single-day pass; $30 for single-day pass on Saturday at the door; $45 for three-day pass; children ages 10 and younger are free. Tickets available at the Comic Con website or participating comic book stores.

For more information, visit


Have an event to add? Email details to southla[at]